Palestinians refuse clause in UN draft barring criminal charges against Israel

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Washington had sought to soften wording of draft resolution, but Palestinians submitted final proposal earlier Tuesday and have refused to discuss changes.

 American-Israeli efforts to soften the wording of the proposed United Nations General Assembly resolution regarding the recognition of a Palestinian state has failed, an Israeli official said on Tuesday.

Haaretz has learned that the push did not succeed because the Palestinians refused to add a clause to the draft that would prevent them from filing criminal charges against Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The General Assembly was due to vote on the proposal on Thursday.

The Palestinians distributed the final draft of the General Assembly resolution early on Tuesday morning in New York and are refusing to pursue any further discussions on the matter.

Over the past two days, the United States has made attempts to alter the wording of the resolution in order to minimize the political damage that will likely result from the General Assembly vote, in which the Palestinians are expected to garner a large majority.

Earlier Tuesday, Haaretz reported that Israel had joined the American effort, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his special envoy, lawyer Isaac Molho, to Washington on Sunday to work on the issue along with senior Obama administration officials.

A senior Israeli official involved in the international contacts to soften the wording of the resolution stated that the effort was too little, too late and had ended in failure. In his words, senior Obama administration officials contacted the chief of the Palestinian negotiating team Saeb Erekat on Wednesday and asked him to come to Washington urgently in order to negotiate the wording of the resolution, but Erekat refused.

“Erekat told the Americans that he didn’t have any time and that he would speak with them after the [General Assembly] vote,” said the senior Israeli official.

At the center of Palestinian steadfast refusal to alter the resolution draft lies the demand that a clause be inserted into the resolution stating that the Palestinians would not approach the ICC in order to file charges against Israeli officials.

The United Kingdom has made it clear to the Palestinians that it will support their measure in the United Nations if they provide guarantees that they will not seek to file criminal charges against Israeli officials with the ICC. The British did not state whether they were requesting oral or written guarantees from the Palestinians.

The Palestinians made it clear to the U.S. and several prominent European Union member states that they are only prepared to provide an oral guarantee that they will not seek to file charges with the ICC for a temporary period of approximately half a year. After the end of this period, they stated, they would consider themselves no longer bound by this guarantee.

After responding negatively to American efforts to alter the wording of the resolution, the Palestinian delegation to the UN in New York distributed a final draft of the resolution proposal that is contained below. In this draft, which in any event is phrased in general and relatively moderate terms, some minor changes were inserted in response to requests made by some European countries. The principal change was the emphasis placed on the necessity of the immediate renewal of the peace process with Israel.

5. The General Assembly expresses the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap, for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides that resolves all outstanding core issues, namely the Palestine refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, security and water.

Also included in the resolution draft was a clause stating:

4. The General Assembly affirms its determination to contribute to the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the attainment of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East that ends the occupation that began in l967 and fulfills the vision of two States, an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Israel, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.
According to the final draft of the resolution, the GA will state that it grants to Palestine the status of an observer nation that isn’t a full member of the UN. The resolution will establish that the designation of this status to Palestine will not harm in any manner either the position or rights of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people in the framework of the UN.

 

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