New York, December 31 : The U.N. Security Council, in a close 8-2 vote with five abstentions, on Tuesday voted down a Palestinian statehood resolution that set a deadline for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian territories by 2017.
Eight nations voted for the draft resolution -- one vote short of the necessary nine to be adopted -- including Jordan, which sponsored the resolution, and three permanent Security Council members: China, Russia and France.
The United States voted against the resolution on the table and had been expected to exercise its permanent council member authority and veto the measure, had it passed.
The Security Council consists of 15 members, five permanent and 10 rotating members. The permanent five, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States, have veto power to block any resolution.
The resolution called for an end of Israeli troops in Palestinian territories -- including the West Bank -- by 2017 and set a 12-month deadline for a peace solution, with two separate states. It also identified East Jerusalem as the capital of what would be called Palestine.
Palestine currently is not recognized as a state. In November 2012, the General Assembly voted to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to "non-member observer state."
Jordanian envoy: World ready for move
Dina Kawar, Jordan's ambassador to the United Nations and the sponsor of the draft, said she hoped the Security Council would have adopted the resolution because the council "bears both the legal and the moral responsibilities to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the crux of the conflict in the Middle East." Elements in the draft resolution, including the right for Palestinian people for self-determination, a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and an end to what it calls Israeli occupation were "acceptable not only to members of the Security Council but to the international community as a whole," Kawar said.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said no other country in the world has invested more than the United States in pursuing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but said the resolution "would undermine efforts to get back to an atmosphere that makes it possible to achieve two states for two people." Power said that the current resolution was "deeply unbalanced" and instead of giving a voice to both sides, only considered the concerns of one.
"Today's vote should not be interpreted as a victory for an unsustainable status quo, instead it should serve as a wake-up call to catalyze all interested parties to take constructive, responsible steps to achieve a two-state solution," Power said.
Australia also voted against the measure.
The Palestinian representative at the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told the diplomats that it is "most regrettable that the Security Council remains paralyzed."
"The repeated requests for us to 'wait,' and 'wait,' and 'wait' while our people are suffering, while our people are besieged, while our land is being colonized, and while the two-state solution is being destroyed and the prospects for peace are evaporating, must understand that such requests are not viable under these circumstances and are unsustainable," he said.
"The Palestinians have found every possible opportunity to avoid direct negotiations with Israel," said Israel Nitzan, a counselor representing Israel at the meeting, and called the most recent "unilateral" draft the latest endeavor in a "never-ending string of political games.I have news for the Palestinians: you cannot agitate and provoke your way to a state," Nitzan said.
Five countries abstained from the vote, including permanent member United Kingdom.
UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told the Security Council, "We consider President (Mahmoud) Abbas a man of peace and understand the pressure that the Palestinian leadership has been under to act and their frustration at the lack of progress. But we are disappointed that the normal, and necessary, negotiation did not take place on this occasion. "
After the meeting, Jordan's Kawar told reporters that although she would have liked more consultations and negotiations to "come up with a product that would be acceptable to the 15" [member states,] the importance of this resolution was "to put some momentum and dynamics in the Security Council."