PLO to press on with settlement vote at UN 15Feb11 February 16, 2011

Ma’an News Agency -  15 February 2011

Palestinian representatives at the UN will push forward with a draft resolution calling on the Security Council to condemn settlement construction, PLO Executive Committee member Saleh Raafat said Tuesday.

A vote will be held on the resolution “[d]espite all of the pressure exerted on the Palestinians and the Arab-state supporters by the US,” Raafat said.

“While we call on the United States to withhold their veto on the resolution,” the official said, “Palestinian representatives at the UN are prepared to bypass the UNSC and use the ‘Uniting for Peace’ resolution to have the draft passed.”

“Uniting for Peace” gives powers to the UN General Assembly when the Security Council, “because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The resolution states that “in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures.”

The draft resolution on settlements would then be transferred to the UNGA, under a scheme the Palestinian officials said was “no less powerful than a UNSC resolution.”

If the US does use its veto, Raafat said, the PLO will no longer accept the country’s role as mediator in peace talks.

“The PLO has already called on the International Quartet to sponsor talks in the Middle East including political negotiations if they are to resume when Israeli settlement construction halts,” Raafat noted as a contingency plan.

In a separate statement, PLO member Hanan Ashrawi confirmed that a draft resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlement activities and calling for all such activities to stop “has been officially presented and placed on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council.”

Palestinian negotiators made clear at the outset of the last round of peace talks that the process was contingent on a halt to Jewish-only settlement construction on lands the international community considers occupied. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, appropriating occupied lands is illegal.

“Israeli exceptionalism and impunity have been sanctioned by the United States at the expense of Palestinian rights and the achievement of a just peace. The draft resolution is consistent with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council and international law. A veto by the United States would be seen globally as a direct affront to the international community and the requirements of peace,” Ashrawi said.

Talks collapsed on 26 September, when a partial moratorium on settlement construction ended, and a blitz of new construction began.

Several new settlement housing projects have since been announced. The most recent came to light Monday, when Israel’s Jerusalem municipal council approved the construction of 120 new homes in the Jewish settlement neighborhood of Ramot in annexed East Jerusalem.

Ashrawi said the announced plans “further reinforce the urgency of this resolution.”

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