RAMALLAH, Jan 7 (JMCC) - The Palestinian alternative to direct negotiations with Israel
will face it's biggest challenge early next week when a draft resolution condemning settlement
activity reaches the UN Security Council. With almost all of South America recognizing the state of Palestine - Chile joining yesterday and Paraguay expected soon - and rumors the United Kingdom will up upgrade their Palestinian London delegation to diplomatic mission, Palestine's walk away from the negotiation table to the global stage seems successful.
The draft resolution is currently being lobbied to the 15 UNSC member states including South Africa, Lebanon, Colombia and Brazil - whose former presiden Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva led the South American recognition campaign. But the final vote will hinge completely on the permanent member states and its historically Israel-supporting sole superpower the United States - which could move the resolution approve or abstain.Read more
The United States, Israel's closest ally, has voiced opposition to settlement building, but it also opposes the resolution on grounds that it will not move both sides closer to a two-state solution in which Israel and the Palestinians could live side-by-side in peace. It remains unclear, however, if the US would veto the measure or abstain in a vote.
The resolution puts the Obama administration in a difficult position because a veto would anger the Palestinians and its many supporters in the Arab world and elsewhere - and an abstention would anger the Israelis. Either way, the US vote could complicate efforts to resume direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said last week in Brazil that the Palestinian draft used language similar to that used by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has criticized settlements, so we don't see why the US would veto it.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN observer, has been meeting separately with the 15 Security Council members, as well as other UN ambassadors, to lobby for support for the resolution.
At the left-wing Israeli web magazine +972, Ami Kaufman writes about the success of the Palestinian Wild Card campaign and the piecemeal diplomatic advancement of the Palestinian cause after failed direct negotiations stalled by settlement recalcitrance. He argues US President Obama could simply abstain from voting and, in effect, support a worldwide, accepted condemnation of increased settlement activity:
This is a critical junction in the Wild Card campaign (a call for the US to recognize Palestinian statehood in the summer of 2011). Palestinians claim it will be hard for the US to veto this resolution based on official US statements that have already condemned settlement policy. Moreover, considering the recurring snubs this administration gets from Jerusalem, one might not be surprised if some in the West Wing could see this as a chance for some payback.
But of course, the most important aspect of the vote is the policy aspect: if the US indeed refrains from vetoing the resolution, could it signal a dramatic shift in White House policy towards the peace process? Could it serve as an indication towards future voting intentions, when the Palestinians come again to the UN in the summer to be formally recognized as a state?