The Arab League has backed a plan by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek international approval for a Palestinian state at the UN Security Council. Member state Jordan is due to present the draft resolution.
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said on Saturday that Jordan, which is currently a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, would present a draft resolution setting out a timetable for the creation of a Palestinian state.
This follows endorsement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a proposal to legally enshrine Israel as the national Jewish homeland.
Israel's Knesset parliament is due to vote on the proposal on December 3. Critics within Israel have warned such a move could institutionalize discrimination against Israel's 1.7 Arab citizens.
Elaraby was quoted by the news agency Reuters as saying after Saturday's Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo: "The Palestinian issue has been circulated in the past, but what is new today is that the Arab states and Palestine decided to go to the Security Council, through Jordan, with an Arab draft resolution,"
Arab League ministers decided to create a follow-up committee to seek international backing for the draft resolution. It comprises Kuwait, Mauritania, Jordan and Arab League chief Nabil al-Araby.
'Internationalizing' the issue
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said there had been no other option but to turn to the international community.
"The current situation in the Palestinian territories cannot continue," he told League ministers in Cairo, according to Reuters.
"There is no longer a partner for us in Israel and there is nothing for us but to internationalize the issue," Abbas said.
The proposed resolution is not likely to be passed by the UN Security Council because the United States, Israel's main ally, holds veto powers. It may also fall short of the needed number of votes.
'Jewish nation' not recognized
Elaraby also ruled out League recognition Israel as a Jewish nation, following moves by Netanyahu's government to enshrine Israel's status as the Jewish national homeland in Israeli law.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations brokered by the United States collapsed in April. Since then, relations have worsened, with Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fighting a deadly 50-day war earlier this year.
That was followed by continued settlement-building by Israel on occupied territory and fatal outbreaks of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem and further afield.
Palestinians seek to establish a state on land captured by Israel in a 1967 war, encompassing the Israeli-occupied West Bank, blockaded Gaza Strip and a capital in East Jerusalem.
Several countries have held symbolic votes on whether to recognize Palestine as a state, including Spain and and Sweden. Parliamentarians in France are due to hold a similar vote on the issue on December 2.
se/ipj (Reuters, AP, AFP)