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Libya urges UN to take up Israeli settlements
Despite US veto on any such measure, northern African country indicates it will introduce fresh draft resolution before Security Council demanding end to settlement activity
Libya indicated on Tuesday that it would introduce a fresh draft resolution before the United Nations Security Council demanding that Israel end its settlement activity in Palestinian territory.

 

"We are discussing it with the Palestinians and other members of the Security Council. We are going to do that, yes," Libya's UN Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham told reporters about the plans.

 

Arab countries could quickly reach an agreement on the principles and terms of the text, perhaps before the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday on Friday, he said.

 

Arab countries had already prepared a similar text in July 2008, Shalgham recalled.

 

Libya, the only Arab country currently holding a seat on the Security Council, had been dissuaded at the time from pushing for a vote in the face of a likely veto from the United States, Israel's staunchest ally.

 

And the US deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Alejandro Wolff, indicated that Washington would again oppose any such measure.

 

"He has lots of ideas," Wolff said, breaking into a big smile when asked about the Libyan ambassador's proposal.

 

'Collective effort'

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations blasted the Jewish settlements, a thorny issue in long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as "illegal" and the "the main obstacle on the path of the peace process."

 

Riyad Mansur called for "a collective effort to bring Israel into compliance with the requirement of peace if we want to find a way to move forward."

 

The Palestinians have said Israel must halt all settlement activity before the resumption of peace negotiations that were suspended during the Gaza war at the turn of the year.

 

Arab countries have backed the move by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and rejected US calls to begin normalizing ties with Israel ahead of a peace deal.

 

A resolution such as the Libyan proposal would help "bring Israel into compliance if the international community is serious about resolving this impasse," Mansur said.

 

But the Palestinian envoy acknowledged that such efforts would take time and "would require very responsible and quiet diplomacy with all concerned parties including possibly at the level of capitals, including possibly at the level of ministers."

 

He noted that Arab foreign ministers would be meeting soon in Cairo.

 

The settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community, house about 400,000 settlers.

 

According to Palestinians, the settlements will prevent them from forming a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - which the Jewish state left in 2005 after 38 years of occupation, withdrawing about 8,000 settlers.

 

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