Palestinians mull reply after UN vote fails

Palestinian Authority leaders to meet after failed statehood bid, with many saying there was no need to rush to the UN.

Vote comes at a time of rising tensions in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank [EPA]

Ramallah, Occupied West Bank – Just hours after the failure of a UN Security Council bid to set a timetable for ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian leadership was mulling its response, which it said included signing the Rome Statute as a first step towards joining the International Criminal Court.

Palestinian chief negotiator Sa’eb Erekat said that an “emergency meeting” for the broader leadership would take place on Wednesday evening in response to the draft’s defeat.

“Although, the majority of the Security Council voted in favour of the resolution, once again, certain countries continue to ensure impunity to the Israeli occupation and its severe international law violations by not voting in favour of the resolution,” he said.

Palestinian officials initially said they would go to the UN for a draft resolution to set a timetable for a state by November 2016, then Erekat said a draft would be submitted before the Christmas holidays. It finally made it to a vote last night.

But Palestinians woke up on Wednesday to news that the resolution submitted by Jordan to the 15-member council only secured eight of the nine necessary votes. The US and Australia voted against the proposal. 

Although, the majority of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, once again, certain countries continue to ensure impunity to the Israeli occupation and its severe international law violations by not voting in favor of the resolution

by  Sa'eb Erekat, Palestine's chief negotiator

One of the five countries which abstained, Nigeria, had previously said it would vote for the resolution.

The leadership had long made many promises to join the ICC to hold Israel accountable for war crimes. Setting a date to join the court would also pave the way for Palestinian factions to be held responsible for their own set of alleged crimes.

Similar leadership meetings took place following the death of a Palestinian minister after he was accosted and teargassed by Israeli soldiers in a tree-planting event near Ramallah last month.

Hours after Ziyad Abu Ein’s death, a top official from the ruling Fatah party said the Palestinian Authority (PA) would halt security coordination with Israel. But that did not happen, further enraging Palestinians, who expected a harsh response to Abu Ein’s death.

Israel’s foreign minister said the Palestinians’ UN move showed that a solution can only be made through negotiations.

“The failure of the Palestinian resolution must teach the Palestinians that provocation and attempts to impose unilateral measures on Israel will not achieve anything,” Avigdor Liberman said.

The vote meanwhile, cemented what many ordinary Palestinians already believed: that the leadership should not have headed to the UN without the approval of all the factions.

Many parties had said that the resolution did not meet the “aspirations of the people”.

‘National discord’

Some also wondered why they didn’t wait until January, when one-fifth of incoming 15-member UN Security Council has no diplomatic ties with Israel. “This was an absolute failure,” said Zakariya Mohammad, a poet and writer.

“The decision to go to the UN even without the factions’ blessing has led to national discord.”

Others said that this proved that diplomatic efforts being undertaken by the Palestinians were not enough to secure independence.

“This Palestinian move was a waste of time,” said political analyst Hani al-Masri.

“I support the PLO going to the ICC. Diplomacy alone doesn’t work. It’s important if it is used as a strategy alongside others, like popular resistance and boycott.”

The failed UN bid comes on the heels of a series of votes by the parliaments of the UK, Spain, France, Ireland and Portugal in favour of recognising Palestine as a state.

So far, 135 countries recognise Palestine, and many legislatures are urging their governments to follow suit. These were indicative of heightened European frustration with the political stalemate, which is being paralleled at the UN as well.

The rigorous wheels of diplomacy are at work following months of political stalemate and increased bloodshed in Israel and the Palestinian territories. They also come ahead of early Israeli elections, which some predict will yield an even more hard-line government than Netanyahu’s current coalition.

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in April. Around that time, Palestinians joined international treaties and since then have been pursuing efforts at the UN to secure a deadline for establishing a state.

Tuesday’s vote arguably gave Americans an easy way out as the resolution was defeated without the Americans using a veto.

Source: Al Jazeera