The Palestinian leadership’s resolution to end Israel’s occupation through negotiations failed to pass the United Nations Security Council this evening. While Palestinian leaders had hoped to garner the nine votes needed to be approved by the 15-member council, only eight countries supported the measure. The United States and Australia voted against it while five others abstained.
“The Security Council has once again failed to uphold its charter duties to address theses crises and to meaningfully contribute to a peaceful and lasting solution in accordance with its own resolutions,” said Palestine’s representative to the United Nations Riyad Mansour.
Just hours before the Security Council convened, a Chief Palestinian negotiator said to Al Jazeera in New York, Palestine had nine confirmed votes. It was widely suspected that the Palestinians had the votes to pass their resolution, yet the U.S. said earlier in the day they would not support the measure, and so if Palestine would have received a majority of votes, the U.S. was expected to invoke their veto privileges.
Secretary John Kerry also made 13 phone calls to different countries over the past two days asking them to rescind support for the draft resolution. “Some of them he’s spoken with more than once,” said State Department Director of the press office Jeff Rathke.
“In recent years no government has invested more in the effort to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace than the United States,” said the U.S.’s Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power after the draft resolution was called to a vote. “We voted against it because we know what everyone here knows, as well—peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must be made at he negotiating table. Today’s staged confrontation in the UN Security Council will not bring the parties closer to achieving two-state solution.”
The U.S,’s stance against the resolution comes as no surprise. Since the Palestinians first broached the possibility of seeking action at the Security Council the U.S. has been against it. However, up until this week the State Department has said they were not opposed to a Security Council measure as such, only a resolution that would call for unilateral action.
Power added the U.S. would welcome Palestinians to once against seek Washington as a broker to ending the conflict with Israel “when they are ready to return to the table.”
However, for the Palestinian leadership the U.S. brokered talks have failed to produce a Palestinian state and Secretary Kerry’s latest efforts did not even set a framework for peace talks. The Security Council resolution is widely regarded as a last ditch effort to set parameters for talks with Israel in line with international law.
France who initially authored another version of the draft resolution, voted in favor along with Argentina, Chad, Chile, China, Jordan, Luxembourg and Russia. Although France did express reservations in the text’s language, and the rush to bring the measure to a vote.
The United Kingdom who abstained, echoed France’s concerns that there was not enough time to deliberate. Their ambassador said “We are disappointed that the normal necessary negotiation did not take place on this occasion.” While United Kingdom did not support the draft resolution seemingly due to the process in which it was quickly called to a vote, it did not oppose the content in the resolution and offered sympathetic remarks to the Palestinians.
“We consider president Abbas a man of peace and understand the pressure that the Palestinian leadership has been under to act and their frustration with the lack of progress,” the United Kingdom’s ambassador added, closing that his country could assume the role of drafting another resolution in 2015 that would be more likely to pass. China who voted in favor, also offered to take a stronger role inside of the Security Council to purse a course for a negotiated two-state solution.
Jordan, the Arab representative to the Security Council, submitted the draft resolution to the UN secretariat yesterday and within 24-hours it was brought to a hurried vote at Palestine’s behest, according to Jordanian representatives.
Dina Kawar, Jordan’s ambassador to the UN said while her country is a “stakeholder” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a neighbor and regional partner, ultimately the initiative moved ahead to meet a Palestinian deadline of reaching the Security Council floor before the New Year. “We hope they know what they are doing,” said Kawar following the vote to Al Jazeera.
Introducing the resolution to the Security Council Kawar said, “The Security Council must respond to the legitimate Palestinian rights to freedom and dignity in its independent, fully independent, fully sovereign, fully viable state.” Indeed this principle was upheld even by dissenting Australia and the United Kingdom.
Israel, however, was firmly against the resolution, or any resolution at the Security Council.
The Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer was not present in New York as he stayed back in Jerusalem during the vote. Israel’s representative at the UN, however, had stern yet and brief words for the Security Council. He said they were “indulging the Palestinians” who have “engaged in a never-ending stream of political gains and now they are parading into this council with a preposterous, unilateral proposal.”
Despite Palestine’s clear loss at the UN, tomorrow Palestinian Authority President will address press in Ramallah during a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of his Fatah political party. He will also meet with his executive committee and next steps will be announced in the coming days. The measures being discussed include joining additional international treaties, Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Negotiation Affairs Department Spokesperson Ashraf Khatib told Mondoweiss in advance of the vote.
For the Palestinian leadership, the Security Council vote may serve as a benchmark in their efforts to hold Israel accountable and build momentum within Europe for the cause of statehood. Indeed some fruits of those efforts emerged tonight, most noticeably from France and the United Kingdom who both supported utilizing the Security Council to create a timetable to end Israel’s occupation via internationally endorsed negotiations rooted in previous UN resolutions.