The Palestinian Authority (PA) is interested in coming to an understanding with the outgoing administration of U.S. President Barack Obama that would avoid an American veto of a UN Security Council resolution that the PA intends to introduce in January, PA officials and Western diplomats told Haaretz on Saturday.
The resolution would be critical of Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
According to Haaretz, a high-level PA delegation is scheduled to arrive in Washington in the coming week, led by senior negotiator Saeb Erekat and the head of the Palestinian general intelligence service, Majid Faraj.
The delegation also includes the future Palestinian ambassador in Washington, Husam Zumlut, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas' senior adviser, as well as a number of high-level officials from Abbas' Fatah party and from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The delegation will be coming to the U.S. capital to participate in a strategic American-Palestinian dialogue session, the first of its kind ever to be held. The more important meeting, however, will be that of Erekat, Faraj and other members of the delegation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
The main item on the agenda of that meeting is expected to be the resolution, which the Palestinians are currently discussing with members of the UN Security Council. The Palestinian visitors will also be meeting with representatives of the Republican Party and with advisers of President-elect Donald Trump.
The PA has in recent years several times initiated unilateral resolutions at the UN Security Council which seek to condemn Israel over its construction in Judea and Samaria and force a peace settlement on the Jewish state.
This time, however, things are different as there have been concerns that Obama, freed of re-election concerns, will advance such resolutions or break with American protocol and refrain from vetoing them if they are voted upon before he leaves office.
A group of 88 senators recently urged Obama to continue to maintain the long-standing U.S. policy of vetoing one-sided UN resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian Arab issue.
Similarly, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton warned Obama not to take any actions that could hurt Israel at the UN before he leaves office.
Senior PA officials have said that the PA intends to introduce its Security Council resolution in early January, before Trump takes office on January 20.
For the month of January, the rotating presidency of the Security Council will be filled by Sweden, which is the most recent major country to recognize the “State of Palestine”, and which is also interested in advancing a Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the course of the month, noted Haaretz.
According to the newspaper, the PA has already shared a non-final draft of the resolution with several UN Security Council members in New York. Western diplomats who have read it said it states that the “settlements” are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace and demands that Israel put a total halt to construction and any other activity related to the “settlements”.
Another section of the draft states that members of the UN must avoid providing Israel any assistance that can be used directly for activity related to the “settlements”, the report said.
The draft resolution also calls for a halt to any acts of violence against civilians, including terrorism, as well as provocative acts and incitement, and calls for those responsible for such acts to be put on trial.
Finally, according to Haaretz, the resolution calls upon all countries to act to revive direct negotiations between Israel and the PA based on clear terms of reference, to last for a year.
A senior official in Abbas' office told Haaretz that the PA senses that the Obama administration will not accept the existing draft resolution, portions of which will have to be amended in an effort to avoid an American veto in the Security Council.
White House officials are maintaining ambiguity on everything related to the prospect that Obama would push for a UN Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. High-ranking administration officials said Kerry had made it clear in his address to the U.S.-Israeli Saban Forum in Washington last week that no decision had been taken on the matter and that all options remain on the table.
"We will carefully consider our future engagement if and when we reach that point, and determine how to most effectively advance the objective we all share in achieving a negotiated two-state solution," a senior administration official was quoted as having said.