| Lacking support, Palestinians pull request for UN vote against Trump plan

The Palestinians have abandoned their request for a vote at the UN Security Council on Tuesday that they hoped would reject US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, whose administration has put heavy pressure on critics, diplomats said.

Introduced by Indonesia and Tunisia, the resolution risked not having nine out of 15 votes in its favour, the minimum required for adoption provided there is no veto by a permanent member, said the diplomats.

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A diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the US has placed “very strong pressure” on other countries on the Security Council, including threats of economic retribution.

Despite the setback, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will go ahead on Tuesday and address the Security Council about Trump’s January 28 plan, which paves the way for Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank but also allows for a demilitarised Palestinian state.

“Consultations are still ongoing,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said of the proposed resolution.

Dwelling on the past

READ | Palestinians withdraw request for UN vote on US Mideast plan: diplomats

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, urged Abbas to cancel his trip, accusing him of dwelling on the past and calling on him to focus on the future.

The US would be certain to exercise its veto to any resolution that criticises its plan.

But diplomats said it was far from certain that the Palestinians could pull off a repeat of the December 2017 vote in which all 14 other Security Council members denounced Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The US has proposed a series of amendments to the draft resolution that could come up for a vote at the session attended by Abbas.

In proposals seen by AFP, the US would significantly alter the text to remove references to lines before the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel captured the West Bank, as being the basis of peace.

It would also cut out a statement that Jewish settlements built in the West Bank since 1967 are illegal, a position taken by virtually every country except the US and Israel.

The US is also seeking to eliminate language that equated East Jerusalem with the occupied West Bank.

The Trump plan calls for recognition of the contested holy city as Israel’s undivided capital, while establishing a Palestinian capital on its outskirts.

While recognising that the Trump plan “departs from the internationally endorsed terms of reference and parameters”, the US wants the resolution to state that the Security Council “welcomes discussion on this proposal to advance the cause of peace”.

Diplomats cast doubt on whether a vote could take place even at a later date, considering the wide divergences in positions.

The Palestinian leadership has enjoyed the backing of the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and, most recently, the African Union, which have all rejected the Trump plan.

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