Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Palestinian Statehood Bid Fails At UNSC, Next Move: Join ICC

Palestinian Statehood Bid Fails At UNSC As U.S., Australia Vote Against

The UN Security Council has failed to adopt the Arab coalition’s bid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to Israeli “occupation”. The veto power US and Australia voted against the move with 5 abstentions.
The draft resolution gathered only 8 votes in favour, so it was automatically defeated. The US however still used its veto power and voted against the resolution. Another veto power state, the UK, along with Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and Rwanda have abstained from the vote.

"This resolution sets the stage for more division, not for compromise," said US Ambassador Samantha Power, calling the draft a “staged confrontation.”
“The United kingdom supports much of the content of the draft resolution. It is therefore with deep regret that we abstained from it,” said UK ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant. “We are disappointed that the normal and necessary negotiation did not take place on this occasion.”
However, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said that Moscow “cannot share the objections of those who believe that the draft resolution was undermining the prospects of the negotiating process.”
“Unfortunately last year revealed how this process has gone into a blind alley, with its monopolization by the United States and their pullback from the Quartet [US, EU, UN and Russia]. We believe this to be a strategic mistake,” said Churkin.
“This draft reflects just demands of Arab states, including the Palestinian people, and is in accord with the relevant UN resolutions, the ‘land for peace’ principle, the Arab peace initiative and middle-Eastern peace roadmap. And is also in accord with China’s consistent position. We express deep regret over the failure of the draft resolution to be adopted,” said Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
Israeli authorities said they are "satisfied" with the failure of the Palestinian statehood bid at UN Security Council.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday his administration would"no longer deal"with Israel in case of the resolution's failure. "If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted to the Security Council to put an end to [Israeli] occupation doesn't pass, we will be forced to take the necessary political and legal decisions," the Algerian APS news agency quoted Abbas as saying.
Last Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called a UN bid for Palestinian statehood an“act of aggression.”
“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is adopting measures whose sole aim is to attack Israel, with no benefit for the Palestinians,” Lieberman said in a statement.

Many months and innumerable headlines in the making, the Palestinians’ bid to impose terms for statehood upon Israel via the United Nations ended in embarrassing failure on Tuesday night, when the Security Council rejected Resolution S/2014/916. The US didn’t even have to wield its veto.

Their defeat was unexpected and stinging. Shortly before the vote, the Palestinians claimed — and Israeli officials confirmed — that nine countries intended to support the resolution, which would have constituted the necessary majority and forced the US veto. But come the moment of truth, Nigeria surprisingly abstained. Pushing a bid for a solution to the conflict within a year and a full Israeli withdrawal within three, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinians found themselves one vote short.

Expect politicians and pundits in Israel to spend the next few days debating whether the 8-2 vote, with 5 abstentions, was a disaster, underlining the country’s increasing international isolation, or a case of brilliant Israeli diplomacy, in that Nigeria could be persuaded to change its position at the last minute. (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the leaders of Rwanda and Nigeria before the vote; Rwanda, less surprisingly, also abstained, as did Britain, South Korea and Lithuania.)

The Palestinians plainly suffered a dramatic reverse. But Israel cannot claim an equally dramatic victory. Mustering the opposition only of the US and Australia — to a motion that was designed to impose terms that Israel has made plain it cannot accept, submitted by a Palestinian leadership that is currently part of a Hamas-backed unity government — hardly suggests widespread international empathy for Israel’s concerns.
Perhaps the smartest way to view the vote is that it underlined ebbing support for Israel’s positions, even as reluctance to endorse an imposed solution narrowly held sway. The message was that the international community is fed up with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, believes a negotiated accord is the best way to solve it, but one way or another wants to see Israel speedily withdraw from the West Bank to enable the creation of a Palestinian state. Israel got some breathing space, nothing more. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has already spoken about going back to the Security Council when its membership is more advantageous.

Palestinians were apparently confident that they had the nine yes votes locked in, miscalculating Nigeria’s position. Had they waited just two more days, by when Malaysia will have replaced South Korea, they would not have been defeated.

The day after, analysts everywhere are earnestly discussing what Tuesday’s defeat of the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations Security Council means for Israeli diplomacy and the future of the peace process.

Despite all the punditry, however, the episode has probably contributed more to the talking points of right-wing Likud politicians on the day of their party’s primary election than to the prospects of an independent Palestine.

It was unclear until the last minute whether the draft — which read more like a Palestinian wishlist than a serious proposal to reach an agreement — would garner the requisite nine yes votes. But even if it had, the Palestinians knew that the Americans would, if need be, use their veto.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sought a showdown at the Security Council regardless. Facing pressure from Hamas and other rivals within Palestinian society, he evidently felt he needed to do something to prove to his nation that he knows how to pressure Israel.

The Palestinians had threatened repeatedly that were their resolution to be thrown out, they would apply for membership in the International Criminal Court and accuse Israel of crimes against humanity. Indeed, as soon as the Security Council vote ended, Palestinian officials started vowing revenge at the ICC, with senior sources saying they would consider signing the Rome Statute by Wednesday evening.

Palestine is planning its next steps after the UN Security Council failed to adopt the Arab coalition’s bid for the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to Israeli “occupation,” officials said.

The Palestinian Authority could also schedule a date for applying to join the International Criminal Court and other international agencies, negotiator Saeb Erekat said, adding that officials would hold a "very serious meeting" on Wednesday.
"There will be no more waiting, no more hesitation, no more slowdown," Erekat said. "We are going to meet and make decisions."
Fatah’s Central Committee and the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) will decide whether to sign the Rome Statute by the ICC, a senior Palestinian source told the Times of Israel.
Abbas Zaki from Fatah Central Committee said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could sign the Rome Statute as early as tonight.

The Rome Statute is the ICC’s founding document. If Palestine were to become party to it, the International Court would have a free hand in assessing all alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory.

Although it should be noted that Israel isn’t a member itself, and only its own membership, in addition to Palestine being a signatory, could open it up to ICC investigations.

“It is thus most regrettable that the Security Council remains paralyzed,” Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour said, but Palestine “must now consider its next steps.”
According to Mansour, at UN Security Council it was time to end the “abhorrent Israeli occupation and impunity that has brought our people so much suffering.”

Palestinian authorities said that if resolution wasn’t passed by UN, they will ask for applying to join international organizations as Palestinian people say they are willing to seek justice for crimes against humanity as well as the war crimes being perpetrated against them by Israel.

Abbas said on Tuesday his administration would "no longer deal" with Israel if the resolution were to fail.
"If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted to the Security Council to put an end to [Israeli] occupation doesn't pass, we will be forced to take the necessary political and legal decisions," he said.

The Palestinian leadership is meeting Wednesday to plan its next steps after a resolution to end Israel's occupation wasrejected by the UN Security Council, and could set a date for applying to join the International Criminal Court, Palestinian officials told Ynet.

Meanwhile, Hamas denounced Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for the "failure" to push through a UN resolution: "This was a unilateral decision taken by Abu Mazen (Abbas) who has taken the Palestinian decision-making process hostage," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP, describing it as a "new failure" by the Palestinian leader.

The UN vote Tuesday against the Palestinian bid, which called for the Israeli occupation to end within three years, was a blow to an Arab campaign for international action to bring about an independent Palestinian state.

The Palestinians have long vowed to join the ICC in order to press charges against Israel for alleged war crimes. But membership could expose the Palestinians to similar allegations.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said officials would hold a "very serious meeting" Wednesday and could set a date for applying for membership to the ICC and other international agencies.

"There will be no more waiting, no more hesitation, no more slowdown," Erekat said. "We are going to meet and make decisions."

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