WASHINGTON – The Palestinians are making headway at the UN, while Israel's Foreign Service is on strike.
The Palestinians submitted to the Security Council a draft resolution proposing to declare Israeli settlements as illegal. Israel was absent from the discussion, due to strikes in the Foreign Ministry.
The proposal was distributed among the Security Council members, but was not discussed nor voted on.
The United States opposed the submittal of the draft resolution, and the Palestinian members had to make due with only presenting it to the UNSC members during a monthly discussion on "the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian question."
The Israeli delegation was absent from the meeting following an instruction from the Foreign Ministry workers union. Israel'd Ambassador to the United Nations Reuven Meron called the ambassadors of other Security Council members and explained that Israel's absence was not politically motivated, but rather due to an internal work dispute.
The latest crisis in the Foreign Service has left Israel almost helpless in the face of the Palestinian progress in gaining international recognition, culminating with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's declaration during his visit to the Palestinian Authority this week.
Show of powerThe draft proposal, which was presented by Lebanon – the rotating Arab member on the Security Council– was signed by 122 out of 192 member states.
The proposal demands that Israel halts construction in settlements that are on Palestinian territory, and defines the construction on all lands occupied in 1967 as illegal and a key obstacle to a comprehensive, just peace agreement.
Palestinian flag waived outside PLO mission in Washington (Photo: AFP)
The Palestinian observer to the United Nations Riyad Mansour admitted that "if it was up to us, we would have liked to see the Security Council act immediately," adding that it was the United States that was blocking the move.
The US has repeatedly made clear that it objects to any unilateral step that might thwart efforts to bring both sides back to the negotiationing table. Although the United States opposes Israel's construction in the settlements, it is also against Palestinian attempts to drag other international players into the conflict.
US' Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Rosemary DiCarlo stated that negotiations can progress only if the two sides engage in direct talks – and not with the intervention of the Security Council.
During the Security Council discussion, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe presented a monthly review of the situation in the Middle East and reiterated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's demand that Israel stop all activity in the West Bank.
Pascoe added that Israel has begun building some 2,000 new housing units in the West Bank since the moratorium expired on September 26 of last year.
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