Palestinian Statehood Bid Falls Short in U.N. Security Council by One Vote

By Patrick Goodenough | December 30, 2014 | 5:44pm EST

The U.N. Security Council meets in New York. (UN Photo by Eskinder Debebe)

(Update: Adds video, and remarks by Palestinian, Israeli and U.S. delegates)

(CNSNews.com) – An Arab-backed bid to have the U.N. Security Council set a deadline for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state failed Tuesday, as a resolution failed to achieve the minimum of nine votes needed in the 15-member body.

The resolution attracted eight votes, with two countries – the U.S. and Australia – voting no, and five abstentions.

A resolution requires at least nine votes to pass, as well as no veto from one of the five permanent members. Failure to reach the nine vote threshold on Tuesday rendered a U.S. veto unnecessary.

The votes in favor of the Jordan-introduced resolution came from France, China and Russia – all permanent members – along with Jordan, Argentina, Chad, Luxembourg and Chile.

Abstaining were Britain – also a permanent member – Nigeria, South Korea, Lithuania and Rwanda.

It’s unclear why the Palestinians and their backers chose to go ahead with a vote this week rather than wait a few days. The makeup of the new Security Council from January 1 suggests the bid would have had greater success, since Australia, South Korea and Rwanda will be gone, replaced by Malaysia, Angola and New Zealand.

(The other two newcomers, Spain and Venezuela, would also be in the yes camp, as are the countries they are succeeding, Luxembourg and Argentina.)

'Savagery'

In a hard-hitting speech following the vote, Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour lashed out at Israel, accusing it of willful and wanton violations of international law, the “theft and colonization” of Palestinian land, “rampant settler terrorism,” and, through provocations at Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, “threatening to ignite a religious war.”

“The brutalization of the Palestinian people reached a new apex of savagery, with the Israeli military aggression waged against the besieged and blockaded Gaza Strip in July and August of this year,” he said. The statement, more 15 minutes long, made no mention of Hamas.

Mansour thanked by name those members of the council who had “righteously and honorably” voted in favor, but said the vote outcome showed that the body was “out of step with the overwhelming global consensus and calls for an end to the Israeli occupation.”

“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.”

In remarks evidently aimed at the U.S., Mansour said that “those eager to save the two-state solution must act, and cannot continue to make excuses for Israel and to permit, and thus be complicit in, its immoral and illegal behavior.”

'March of folly'

In contrast to Mansour's lengthy statement the Israeli response lasted about 35 seconds, and was delivered not by its ambassador to the world body but by a counsellor at its mission in New York.

“The Palestinians have found every possible opportunity to avoid direct negotiations with Israel,” said Israel Nitzan. “They have engaged in a never-ending stream of political games, and now they are parading into this council with a preposterous unilateral proposal.

“I have news for the Palestinians: You cannot agitate and provoke your way to a state," added Nitzan. “I urge the council to stop indulging the Palestinians and put an end to their march of folly.”

The resolution called for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians within 12 months, an end to Israel’s occupation of land claimed by the Palestinians by the end of 2017, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power told the council the resolution “sets the stage for more division, not for compromise. It could well serve to provoke the very confrontation it purports to address.”

Earlier Tuesday the State Department disputed reports that Secretary of State John Kerry made threats during a phone conversation with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas regarding the resolution.

“I’m not going to characterize the details of the Secretary’s conversation with his counterparts, but he did not issue a threat in his conversation with Palestinian President Abbas,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told a press briefing.

Reports in the region, citing sources close to the Palestinian leadership, said Kerry had threatened economic and political sanctions against the P.A. if the resolution went ahead.

Rathke said Kerry had spoken to 13 government representatives over the past day or so about the resolution, including Security Council members and other key Arab and European states.

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