France pressuring Abbas to drop UN resolution to freeze settlements

Published April 21st, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing an unnamed senior Palestinian official, said Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority is leaning toward freezing its effort to secure an anti-settlement resolution through the UN Security Council.

According to senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, the French government was pressing the Palestinian Authority to freeze the effort on the grounds that it will fail and undermine French attempts to put together an international peace summit this summer.

"The opportunity to go to the Security Council will always be there and we want to give a chance to the French initiative because, in the end, this is an initiative that serves us and not one that hurts us," the Palestinian figure said.

Also speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Israeli official said that France's Ambassador to UN Francois Delattre informed his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Mansour, of the problems involved in promoting a Security Council resolution against the settlements at this time.

The issue also was raised in a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on Friday, when Abbas supported the French initiative to convene the international peace conference in May.

The senior Palestinian official also said that the French had made clear in closed conversations that there was no point in pushing for a Security Council draft resolution that was unlikely to succeed, either due to the lack of a majority or a US veto.

In a press conference after his meeting with Hollande on April 15, as well as in a press conference Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Abbas said that the Palestinian leadership was continuing its consultations with Arab countries to set the most suitable time to move ahead with a draft anti-settlement resolution.

Abbas, who will be in New York this week, is expected to meet with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss its move in the Security Council.

Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials said that the Egyptians, the Jordanians and the Saudis are not keen to move the draft resolution ahead at this time.

The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority wants the West Bank as part of its future independent state, with East al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

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