Palestinian officials have denied reports that a UN Security Council resolution condemning US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan has been withdrawn, as Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas prepared to address the Security Council on Tuesday.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said a draft resolution was “still being circulated” and described rumours that the United States had exerted pressure on member states to obstruct the resolution as unfounded.
“We are continuing the process of consultation with various countries in a way that doesn’t contradict the principles of the resolution,” he said in a tweet.
“Reports that the resolution promoted by the Arab Group and the non-aligned movement has been withdrawn are unfounded.”
Reports that the resolution promoted by the Arab Group and the non-aligned movement has been withdrawn are unfounded. The draft resolution has been distributed.We are continuing the process of consultation with various countries in a way that doesn’t contradict the principles
— Dr. Saeb Erakat الدكتور صائب عريقات (@ErakatSaeb) February 10, 2020
Trump last month unveiled his long-delayed Middle East plan, which was strongly supported by Israel but condemned by the Palestinian leadership and people. The plan envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the occupied West Bank to Israel and favours Israel on key contentious issues including borders, the status of Jerusalem, and Jewish settlements.
Erekat, who has arrived in New York with Abbas, said reports about the Palestinian leadership pulling the draft resolution were part of a “vicious war” against Palestinians.
He also stressed that Abbas would address the Security Council as planned.
Divisions under the surface
The original draft resolution, co-sponsored by Tunisia and Indonesia and backed by the Palestinian delegation, said Trump’s plan violates international law and Security Council demands for a two-state solution based on the borders of Palestine before the 1967 war.
It would have expressed the council’s determination “to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions, including enforcement measures under Chapter 7 of the (UN) Charter,” which cover military and non-military means.
After lengthy negotiations and revised drafts through the weekend, and the circulation of a drastically amended text by the US, the Palestinian delegation decided against putting any draft in “blue” – a final form for a vote, diplomats told The Associated Press news agency.
Erekat said since the resolution has not been put in “blue”, it cannot be said to have been pulled.
The Palestinian leadership has the backing of the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and, most recently, the African Union, which have all rejected the plan.
But individual countries’ positions are more complicated. In the midst of pushing for the UN resolution last week, Tunisia abruptly withdrew its UN ambassador, raising speculation that the Arab state had come under pressure from Washington.
After appearing on Thursday at the UN, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser who spearheaded his Middle East push, said there was a “tonne of cracks” in opposition to the plan.
He pointed to divisions within the European Union, which failed to issue a joint statement critical of the plan amid dissent from a handful of countries such as Hungary, led by the right-wing populist Viktor Orban.
Of the four EU members that hold seats on the Security Council, two of them – Germany and Estonia – looked ready to abstain from a vote criticising the US plan, diplomats told the AFP news agency.
The other two members are Belgium and France, which is a permanent member and therefore has the power to veto resolutions.
The United Kingdom, which is also a permanent member of the Security Council, left the EU at the end of last month.
Israel and the US have also been optimistic of winning at least muted backing from Arab states traditionally supportive of the Palestinians, with Gulf monarchies united with Israel in their hostility to Iran.
The ambassadors of Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) attended Trump’s unveiling of the plan alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who later held a breakthrough meeting with Sudan’s top general.