Draft on settlements ready for UN: Palestinians

The draft resolution condemns Israel`s West Bank settlement activity.

Bethlehem: A Palestinian draft resolution condemning Israel`s West Bank settlement activity is ready to be presented to the United Nations Security Council, a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator in peace talks with Israel, said he expected the resolution would be put to a Security Council vote in February, after the United States ends its presidency of the council.

"We are not condemning Israel. We are condemning settlement activities and we hope the resolution will pass," Erekat said.

He said 15 nations had helped draft the proposal after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested a UN Security Council meeting to discuss settlement building in November.

"Something must be done on the international level to halt the settlement expansion which the Israeli government is undertaking in the West Bank, including Jerusalem," Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas` spokesman, said at the time.

As the Palestinians have only observer status at the United Nations, the resolution will be presented by a full member of the council.

Erekat said he hoped the United States would not use its veto to defeat the resolution and added that if it did not succeed at the Security Council, "we will go to the International Court of Justice”.

The Palestinians want Israel to stop building on land, including areas in and around East Jerusalem captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War, where they plan to found an independent state.

Major powers including the United States see the settlements as an obstacle to a peace deal that would end the six-decade-old conflict.

Weeks of intensive US diplomatic efforts to revive direct peace talks between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu collapsed when Israel refused to extend a 10-month partial building freeze in the West Bank.

Nearly 500,000 Jews live on land captured by Israel in the 1967 war, where the Palestinians want to found a state that would also include the Gaza Strip, separated from the West Bank.

Bureau Report