Riyad al-Malki
Riyad al-MalkiFlash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) foreign minister said Thursday that a push for a UN resolution demanding an end to "Israeli settlement expansion" will be put on hold to focus instead on a French proposal for a peace conference.

The draft resolution was circulated to Arab countries and to some members of the Security Council earlier this month as part of a drive for UN action in support of the two-state solution.

PA foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said the draft would be shelved to focus instead on the French initiative, which provides for a first ministerial meeting in Paris on May 30 ahead of an international conference.

Israeli and PA officials will be invited to take part in the conference, although Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has rejected the initiative that is based on the 2002 peace initiative, which demands the Jewish state make enormous withdrawals and allow an influx of "Palestinian refugees" only to receive a paper promise of normalization from Arab states.

"We have agreed that our move at the Security Council should not jeopardize in any way the French initiative," Maliki told reporters in New York following talks between PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who chairs the council this month.

"We should really sail smoothly in a way that the French initiative will continue," he said, adding that the Palestinians would decide on formally presenting the draft text at a later time.

Diplomats said that France, Egypt and Saudi Arabia had discouraged the Palestinians from moving ahead with the proposed measure that would have put pressure on the United States to resort to a veto, even though there were reports US President Barack Obama would buck longstanding policy and allow it to pass.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in Paris that the May meeting will prepare an international summit to be held in the second half of 2016, which would include the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been frozen since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014, when the PA torpedoed the talks by signing a unity deal with Hamas.

AFP contributed to this report.