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Palestinians push for UN membership and against Israeli settlements


Palestinian demonstrators protest against Israeli bombing

Palestinian demonstrators protest against Israeli bombing

Palestinian demonstrators protest against Israeli bombing

Palestinians officials are sounding out members of the UN Security Council on a new resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlement building and on prospects for becoming a full member of the United Nations.

Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour said he had met about half the 15-member council in the last 10 days and expects to meet the rest in the next week.

He said he will then report back to an Arab ministerial committee which will decide on next steps.

Mr Mansour announced the new Palestinian initiatives ahead of an informal meeting of the UN Security Council on "Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution".

It was organised by five non-permanent council members - Angola, Malaysia, Venezuela, Senegal and Egypt.

The scheduled speakers include representatives from two Israeli human rights groups, Peace Now and B'Tselem, and Americans for Peace Now.

Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon criticised the expected participation of the Israeli organisations.

"During this time of year of reflection and prayer for unity amongst our people, it is sad and disappointing that Israeli organisations are providing moral cover for anti-Israel activities at the UN," he said.

Mr Mansour criticised the "dangerous evolution of settlement activities which is threatening to destroy the two-state solution option".

The Palestinians pushed for the Security Council to adopt a resolution against settlements in February 2011 but it was vetoed by the US. The 14 other Security Council members voted in favour of the resolution, reflecting wide support for the draft which had more than 100 co-sponsors.

Mr Mansour said a new resolution would draw from the 2011 text which would have condemned "illegal" Israeli settlements and demanded an immediate halt to settlement building.

"From what has been coming out from Washington, State Department, White House, and what has been written in the media ... there is a strong indication that the United States of America should be sympathetic to a resolution on settlements," Mr Mansour said, "although we don't know for sure because they did not tell us exactly what they will do."

As for the possibility of Palestine becoming the 194th UN member state, the Security Council's admissions committee approved a report in November 2011 saying there was no consensus among the 15 council nations on the Palestinian application. That application is still before the council.

Mr Mansour said the Palestinians, whose status at the UN has been upgraded from an observer to an observer state, have support from "more than nine" countries on the council for a new membership bid.

But the US would almost certainly veto a membership resolution if there is no Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement - and at the moment there is not even a prospect of reviving peace talks.