Palestinians to turn to Security Council this week

The Palestinians expect to submit their request for a UN Security Council condemnation of Israeli settlements next week and will not be deterred by a US appeal to abandon the idea, senior officials have said.

Updated: Jan 18, 2011, 09:48 AM IST

Ramallah (West Bank): The Palestinians expect to submit their request for a UN Security Council condemnation of Israeli settlements next week and will not be deterred by a US appeal to abandon the idea, senior officials have said.

In recent weeks, the Palestinians have prepared a draft that would have the Security Council declare settlements illegal and demand a halt of their construction. During this
time, Palestinian diplomats have tried to win support for the proposed resolution.

The appeal to the Security Council is part of a Palestinian strategy to try to isolate and exert pressure on the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, launched in September, quickly broke down over Israel`s refusal to extend a 10-month moratorium on housing starts in West Bank
settlements and include east Jerusalem, both claimed by the Palestinians. They say they will not resume talks unless construction is halted.

Saeb Erekat and Nabil Shaath, two senior aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, today said that US officials have urged the Palestinians not to seek an anti-settlement resolution from the Security Council. "We told them very clearly that (this) is something we are not going to do," Shaath said. "We are going to the Security Council."

In the United Arab Emirates, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon urged Israel today "to freeze settlement activity anywhere in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in east
Jerusalem."

Also today, the head of the UN`s World Food Program, Josette Sheeran, toured the Palestinian city of Hebron to inspect the distribution of food through electronic vouchers,
a programme that agency officials say was first tried out in the West Bank.

In the past, needy Palestinians used to pick up their rations at food distribution centers. In 2009, the WFP introduced electronic vouchers, or debit cards, as part of a
pilot project, agency officials said.

Bureau Report