Canadian FM: PA Trying to Circumvent Negotiations

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird calls on UN Security Council to reject PA resolution calling for imposed Israeli withdrawal.

Ari Soffer,

John Baird
John Baird
Reuters

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has joined calls urging the United Nations Security Council to vote down a resolution drafted by the Palestinian Authority calling for an imposed solution on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The UN Security Council will vote later Tuesday on a draft resolution submitted by Jordan on behalf of the PA, demanding recognition as a state and Israeli withdrawals from Judea, Samaria and "East Jerusalem".

It is almost certain to be rejected, as both the US and Britain have voiced their opposition to it already.

Diplomats said it was unlikely that the resolution - which will be voted on at 10 p.m. GMT - would garner the nine votes necessary for adoption - a scenario that would allow the United States to avoid resorting to its veto power.

A US veto risks angering key Arab allies, including partners in the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

"Canada fundamentally believes that Palestinian statehood can only be a by-product of negotiations with the State of Israel. We have long rejected unilateral action on either side, as we believe it is ultimately unhelpful to the cause of peace," Bard said in a statement Tuesday.

"The resolution that was submitted to the United Nations Security Council on December 29 is just another attempt to circumvent negotiations and place preconditions on future discussions," he added. "Canada therefore calls upon members of the UN Security Council to reject this resolution and instead use its influence to urge both sides to sit down without preconditions."

"For far too long, Israelis and Palestinians have been at odds. It is time for serious negotiations and concessions from both sides to ensure a future of peace, security and prosperity."

By turning to the UN for unilateral recognition, the PA is effectively in breach of several accords it has signed with Israel in the past.

Earlier Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke reiterated the US's opposition to the PA bid, noting "there are a number of countries that have indicated they cannot support this resolution."

"Even among countries that are longstanding supporters of the Palestinians and that have indicated they would vote in favor of the resolution, many of them have also acknowledged that it is an unconstructive and poorly-timed resolution," added Rathke.

Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant also voiced his country's disapproval of the proposed resolution, telling reporters the UK would not support it - but not indicating whether that meant it would use its UNSC veto or simply abstain.

"There's some difficulties with the text, particularly language on time scales, new language on refugees. So I think we would have some difficulties," he told reporters.

The Tuesday vote comes as something of a surprise after PA foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki indicated on Monday that the vote would be postponed until after the new year, after the vote was put off last Friday and again on Monday.

But on Monday, PA envoys drafted a more toughly-worded version of the resolution after meeting Arab ambassadors at UN headquarters for about two hours.

The updated text contains new provisions on declaring eastern Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state, settling the issue of terrorist prisoner releases and halting Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

The resolution demands UN recognition of the PA as the "state of Palestine," as well as Israeli withdrawals from eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria by 2017, and prior to that a 12-month deadline for wrapping up negotiations on a final settlement.

Russia has said it will support the resolution. Despite Rathke's statements, US Secretary of State John Kerry has not publicly stated that Washington would use its veto against the resolution. However, Kerry's spokeswoman did day the United States will not support the resolution.




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