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UN Security Council to vote on Palestine statehood

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council was due to vote Tuesday on a draft resolution on Palestinian statehood that was almost certain to be defeated in the face of strong US opposition.

Security Council member Jordan requested the vote on the draft resolution that sets a 12-month deadline to reach a final peace deal with Israel and paves the way to a Palestinian state.

“We have decided that we are going to pass to a vote at the Security Council on the resolution,” Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar told reporters following a meeting of Arab ambassadors.

The 15-member council is scheduled to convene at 2200 GMT.

The vote caps a three-month campaign by the Palestinians at the United Nations to win support for a resolution that sets a timeframe for ending the Israeli occupation.

The resolution calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories to be completed no later than the end of 2017.

On Monday, the Palestinians presented changes to the text, toughening up language on East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state and demanding an end to Jewish settlement building.

The United States again rejected the measure, arguing that it binds the parties to a strict timeframe to reach an agreement that has eluded the region for decades.

Washington reiterated its opposition on Tuesday after US Secretary of State John Kerry made a round of telephone calls, speaking to 13 foreign ministers to explain the US position.

“Our concerns about this are multiple ones,” said Jeff Rathke, a State Department spokesman.

“There’s concern about the timing. This sets arbitrary deadlines. We think this would not help negotiations between the parties concerned. We have concerns about Israel’s legitimate security needs.”

– Will US veto? –

The spokesman stressed that the United States would not stand alone in its opposition to the Palestinian push for statehood.

But two well-informed diplomats said the resolution will garner the nine “yes” votes needed for adoption — a scenario that would force the United States to resort to its veto power to block the measure.

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.

Washington has repeatedly vetoed UN resolutions seen as undermining its ally Israel.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said his country would not support the resolution, but did not specify whether he would use his veto or abstain.

“There are some difficulties with the text, particularly language on timescales, new language on refugees. So I think we would have some difficulties,” Lyall Grant told reporters.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour called on the Security Council to adopt the resolution to show that it is in sync with international momentum to recognize Palestine and advance peace in the Middle East.

“This is an indication to us that the entire international community is interested in the Palestine question, is interested in a role by the Security Council and we hope that the Security Council shoulders this responsibility and adopts this resolution,” he said.

Mansour took an indirect swipe at the United States, saying Arab and European governments had sought compromise to “open a door for peace at the Security Council,” but that “one party did not want to go along with this global consensus.”

International alarm is growing over the ongoing violence and the failure to restart negotiations that last broke down in April, when US Secretary of State John Kerry led a push for peace.

On Tuesday, a Palestinian teenager was seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank, according to family members. The army said he had thrown a suspected explosive device at troops.

If the draft resolution is rejected, the Palestinians have said they will join the International Criminal Court to launch action against Israel and push for greater recognition through the UN General Assembly- AFP

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