United Nations, December 31: The UN Security Council has failed to adopt a Palestinian statehood resolution that set a deadline for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian territories by 2017.
The long-anticipated draft tabled here last night drew the support of eight countries - Argentina, Chad, Chile, China, France, Jordan, Luxembourg, Russia - just one shy of the nine needed to pass a resolution in the absence of a veto by any of the Council's five permanent members.
The United States and Australia opposed the resolution while the United Kingdom, Nigeria, South Korea, Rwanda and Lithuania abstained. The resolution failed to receive the required majority among members, the United States also opposed the text, a move that would have seen the draft fail to pass.
The draft outlined a solution which fulfilled the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states - Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine - living side by side in peace and security in mutually and internationally recognised borders.
It also outlined several parameters for the proposed solution - with a one-year deadline for negotiations with Israel and a "full and phased withdrawal of Israeli forces" from the West Bank by the end of 2017 and would have looked forward to welcoming Palestine as a full UN Member State within the 12-month time frame, urging both parties to build trust and negotiate in good faith.
The text also envisaged a "just solution" to the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the two states and to the question of Palestinian refugees as well as to all other outstanding issues, including control of water resources and the fate of prisoners in Israeli jails.
Security arrangements for the transition would have required a "third-party presence".
Following the vote, Permanent Representative of the US to the UN Samantha Power stressed her country's support for new ways to constructively support both parties in achieving a negotiated settlement.
"This resolution is not one of those constructive steps," she said, adding that the draft set the stage for "more division, not compromise." The vote set-up a "staged confrontation" that did not contribute to a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian question, especially as the text was "deeply imbalanced", establishing "unconstructive deadlines", she said.
UK's representative Mark Lyall Grant said while he supported much of the draft's content, he was disappointed by the lack of negotiation and so had abstained.
Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine Riyad Mansour said the Security Council has "once again failed to uphold its Charter duties." He said the draft was tabled in the face of a political impasse caused by "Israeli intransigence". Israel's representative said the opposite was true, with the Palestinians having "every chance to negotiate".
Having refused to engage, they had now tabled their "preposterous unilateral proposal," and he warned his Palestinian counterpart that he could not "agitate and provoke" his way to a state. France's representative Francois Delattre voted in favour, calling on the Council to be a positive actor, "not a theatre,".
He also voiced his support for a "clear timetable" on peace negotiations. Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin said he regretted that the Council was unable to adopt the draft resolution, which would strengthen the legal basis for negotiations.
He said that recent events had demonstrated that the 70-year-old unresolved conflict was central to the destabilisation of the whole region.
Pointing out that illegal settlement construction had continued and was undermining negotiations on the two-State solution, he stressed that the inaction of the Council on that matter had doomed the "status quo" into a reality.
Chinese envoy Liu Jieyi said the draft was consistent with previous texts supported by the Council as well as with his country's consistent position on the Palestinian-Israeli question.
Supporting the cause of the Palestinian people for realising their legitimate rights, he hoped that the parties would resume negotiations as soon as possible, ending the current "deep stalemate". He called on the parties to end the cycle of violence and urged the Council to intensify its efforts to bring about resumed talks and a just and lasting solution.