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Israel hails UN rebuff to Palestinian proposal

December 31, 2014

Israel has welcomed the UN Security Council's rejection of a Palestinian proposal demanding an end to Israeli occupation within three years. Israel called instead for further dialogue between the two sides.

A Palestinian boy waves the national flag as he and other children take part in a rally outside the United Nations offices in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 12, 2014 . ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images
Image: AFP/Getty Images/A. Momani

Israel on Wednesday hailed a decision by the United Nations Security Council not to adopt a Palestinian-drafted resolution that would have called on the Jewish state to end its occupation on Palestinian territories within three years.

"Every Israeli who wants peace with our neighbors can only be satisfied with the results of this vote," deputy foreign minister Tzahi HaNegbi told Israel Radio. "That is what the world said yesterday to the Palestinians: 'You must hold a dialogue with the Israelis. The Israelis have the right to stand on the international and security interests, and don't use us, the international forum of the UN, to try and solve a conflict between two sides."

He also described the resolution as an attempt "to embarrass and isolate Israel."

One vote short

The Security Council rejected the resolution late on Tuesday, with eight members voting in favor, two against and five abstentions. Nine votes would have been required for the vote to be adopted by the 15-member council.

Those in favor included Russia, China and France, while the United States and Australia voted against.

The US, a close ally of Israel, had always opposed the resolution, saying a negotiated peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians was the only way forward, and these sentiments were reiterated by US Ambassador Samantha Power after the vote.

"We voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because ... peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table," Power said, adding that the deadlines laid out in the draft resolution did not take into account "Israeli legitimate security concerns."

'Genuine peace effort'

The Palestinian side, for its part, voiced disappointment at the decision and said it would mull further steps, including seeking to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), where it could sue Israeli officials for war crimes committed in the occupied territories.

"Our effort was a serious effort, genuine effort, to open the door for peace," said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador.

"Unfortunately, the Security Council is not ready to listen to that message," he added.

Russia also voiced its regret at the Security Council decision, with UN envoy Vitaly Churkin calling it a "strategic error."

The draft resolution set a one-year deadline for negotiations with Israel and demanded a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank by the end of 2017.

Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat said the resolution could be resubmitted to the Security Council in the next few days, with five new non-permanent members starting on Thursday who are seen as more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

If this failed, he said, Palestinians would push on with their plans to join the ICC.

tj/es (AP, dpa, AFP)