Monday, December 22, 2014

Jordanian-Palestinian resolution to the UN Security Council gives US and Israel wiggle room

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Early this morning Jordan submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on behalf of the Palestinians calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of territory conquered in June 1967 through a negotiations process. The Palestinian government has said the text was finalized late Wednesday evening.
The principal point of the resolution is to re-affirm international resolutions and previous agreements on ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a negotiated two-state framework. The draft does not contain language about a binding timeline to complete negotiations– the 2016 deadline that has been in the news– nor does it call for immediate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Rather it “Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfills the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine.”
The resolution goes on to define new terms of reference for solving the conflict: borders “based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps” and adding a third-party security presence. In a separate section the resolution backs UN resolution 242 and 181, but they are not in the list of new parameters for negotiations. Under the current U.S. brokered framework, resolution 181 on the status of the right of return for Palestinian refugees and heirs was excluded, as was the deployment of a third-party security force.
If the resolution passes as is, it would be the first Security Council measure calling for an end to the conflict using the parameters set forth by the UN General Assembly. It could signal to Palestinians that the issue of refugees is back on the negotiating table.
By using the language “affirms the urgent need to attain” an end to the occupation in 12 months, the Palestinians have circumvented the U.S.’s red line that it would not support any unilateral action by the Security Council. The Palestinians were careful not to state outright that Israel would have a binding deadline to remove its forces from the West Bank. Instead it employed the softer wording of a “need to attain,” more or less a recommendation, giving Israel wiggle room at the United Nations. In this wording Israel is not explicitly required to remove forces within the 12-month deadline. Of course this does open the window for another set of negotiations that can continue indefinitely. However, the resolution creates stronger momentum and pressure on Israel to complete the next round of peace talks as a Security Council measure carries more weight from the international community to resolve the conflict with urgency.
Reporting on the GroundThe Palestinians have also stated that the text of the resolution they submitted was largely taken from a version of the draft written by France. When asked about this directly, the French Foreign Ministry and International Development Spokesman said yesterday, “Our aim is to bring the international community together in support of the peace process. We therefore wish to see presented to the UN Security Council a text likely to get unanimity, ” continuing, “The Palestinians have announced the submission of a text in New York. We will examine it in light of this objective.”
At this point the Palestinians are in a critical moment of lobbying aimed at ensuring they do not get a veto from any Security Council member state and have enough votes to pass the council. They want the resolution to be voted on before the end of the year, as they think prolonging the process could weaken the momentum they have created, particularly in Europe, for an independent Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership is currently meeting in Ramallah and will continue leadership discussions until the weekend, said Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiations Affairs Department Spokesman Ashraf Khatib.
“There’s a link to the momentum in the political process” said Khatib of the timing of the resolution, noting the wave of European governments recognizing Palestinian statehood over the recent weeks. However, with deliberations scheduled among the Palestinian leadership in process now, and discussions yet to begin at the Security Council, it is not yet clear when the resolution will be voted on, or if additional pressures against the resolution will be forthcoming. Still the Palestinians want a vote before Christmas.
“Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority] thinks he can threaten us with unilateral steps,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening during a state Hannuka candle-lighting ceremony. “We will not allow this to happen. We will never agree to unilateral diktat. We will always safeguard our security. This is our lesson both from the days of the Maccabees and in our day,” he continued, likening the current political strife to the biblical story of Hanukkah.
Full text of the Draft Resolution:
Draft Resolution (17 December 2014)
Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967); 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,
Reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,
Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947,
Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,
Affirming the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative,
Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, including the sustained and regular opening of its border crossings for normal flow of persons and goods, in accordance with international humanitarian law,
Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognised by the World Bank and the IMF in 2012 and reiterating its call to all States and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for independence,
Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties, and fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties,
Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001),
Recalling the obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict,
Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,
Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013/14 to facilitate and advance negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement,
Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a long-term solution to the conflict,
1. Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfills the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders;
2. Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters:
– borders based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps ;
– security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine, including through a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed the end of 2017, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effective border security and by preventing the resurgence of terrorism and effectively addressing security threats, including emerging and vital threats in the region.
–  A just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace Initiative, international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III);
–  Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States which fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship;
–  an agreed settlement of other outstanding issues, including water;
3. Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to the occupation and an end to all claims and lead to immediate mutual recognition;
4. Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed at the center of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution;
5. Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations within the timeframe defined in the present resolution;
6. Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and refraining from all acts of incitement and provocative acts or statements, and also calls upon all States and international organizations to support the parties in confidence-building measures and to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations;
7. Calls upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;
8. Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighborly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative;
9. Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that ensures the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status, including through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements, and welcomes the proposition to hold an international conference that would launch the negotiations;
10. Calls upon both parties to abstain from any unilateral and illegal actions, including settlement activities, that could undermine the viability of a two-State solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;
11. Calls for immediate efforts to redress the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip, including through the provision of expanded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations agencies and through serious efforts to address the underlying issues of the crisis, including consolidation of the ceasefire between the parties;
12. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months;
13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
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