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Palestinian bid at UN fails to pass, short of one vote

By JT , AFP - Dec 31,2014 - Last updated at Dec 31,2014

AMMAN — Jordan will remain at the forefront of advocates for the Palestinian cause, the Kingdom’s Permanent UN Representative Dina Kawar said late Tuesday.

She made the remarks during a voting session that ended with the failure of a Palestinian bid to secure a UN resolution setting an end date to the occupation at the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Kawar told the meeting that Jordan filed the request for vote in compliance with “pan-Arab consensus” and support for a decision made by the Palestinian leadership, represented by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Kawar had advised Palestinians and representatives of 20 more Arab countries two days earlier, “not to rush things” and to work for a resolution that might win the approval of the 15 members of the UNSC.

China, France and Russia were among the eight countries that voted in favour of the text, but the resolution fell short of winning the nine "yes" votes necessary for adoption within the 15-member council, Agence France-Presse reported. 

Australia and the United States voted against, and five other countries abstained, including Britain.

The failure to win nine votes also spared Washington from having to wield its veto in a move which would have caused it major embarrassment with its Arab allies, AFP said.

The Palestinian-drafted resolution, which was backed by Arab states, would have paved the way for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. 

Kawar said Jordan believes that the UNSC should respond to the Palestinians’ demands to restore their legitimate rights to live in freedom and dignity in their independent, sovereign and viable state within the pre-1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The proposal set a 12-month deadline for Israel to reach a final peace deal with the Palestinians and called for a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian territories by the end of 2017.

The council’s rejection of the resolution was hailed by Israel, which said the Palestinians would achieve their dream of statehood only through bilateral negotiations, rather than through “unilateral” moves at the United Nations. 

But Russia, one of the three permanent members of the Security Council which voted in favour, said the failure to pass the resolution was “a strategic error”.

“Russia regrets that the UN Security Council did not manage to adopt the draft resolution,” said Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin after the vote, accusing Washington of “monopolising” decades of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and leading them “to a dead end”. 

Jordan had requested the vote on Tuesday despite opposition from Washington, which said the resolution did not address Israel’s security concerns and set arbitrary deadlines.

“This resolution sets the stage for more division, not for compromise,” US Ambassador Samantha Power told the council, saying it only addressed the concerns “of just one side”. 

“Peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must be made at the negotiating table,” she said.

Ahead of the vote, Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken to 13 foreign ministers to explain the US position. 

In the event, the resolution failed to garner nine “yes” votes. 

Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg joined China, France and Russia in supporting the resolution.

Lithuania, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Korea abstained along with Britain. 

Diplomatic sources said Nigeria had been expected to support the resolution and changed its stance at the last minute. 

The vote capped a three-month campaign by the Palestinians at the United Nations to win support for the resolution that would have set a time frame for ending the Israeli occupation.

After the vote, Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour accused the council of failing to shoulder its responsibilities and vowed to seek other venues to gain recognition.

“The Palestinian people and the world can no longer wait. That message, despite the regrettable outcome today, is especially clear,” he said. 

The Palestinians had repeatedly warned that if the resolution failed, they would seek to join international organisations, including the International Criminal Court, where they could sue Israeli officials for war crimes in the occupied territories.

France’s envoy said he backed the resolution because of an “urgent need to act” and vowed to continue pressing for a UN role in reviving peace talks.

“Our efforts must not stop here. It is our responsibility to try again, before it’s too late,” said Francois Delattre.

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