UNITED NATIONS – Palestinian diplomats on Wednesday stepped up lobbying for a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements but the United States spoke out strongly against the initiative.
The United States warned at the United Nations that putting the resolution to a Security Council vote would "complicate" peace efforts.
The Palestinian resolution was formally put to the 15-member council on Tuesday night with Lebanon, Brazil and South Africa as the council sponsors.
Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Ryad Mansour, said the resolution would help bring Palestinians and Israelis back to direct talks. Palestinians have refused to take part in talks since Israel ended a moratorium on settlements in the occupied territories at the end of September.
"There are a lot of political activities in all corners of the globe, in all capitals," Mansour told reporters. "Our objective is to remove this obstacle from the process of negotiations."
No vote is expected for several days, possibly weeks. And the United States has warned the Palestinians against pressing for a vote.
"We believe that continued settlement expansion is corrosive, not only to peace efforts and the two state solution but to Israel's future itself," US deputy ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo told a Security Council meeting on the Middle East.
"As we have consistently said, permanent status issues can be resolved only through negotiations between the parties and not by recourse to the Security Council.
"We therefore consistently oppose attempts to take these issues to this council and will continue to do so as such action moves us no closer to the goal of a negotiated final settlement."
DiCarlo said a council resolution "would only complicate efforts to achieve that goal."
US officials are still refusing to say, however, whether the United States would use its traditional veto of resolutions against Israel.
"I'm not going to speculate on what happens from this point forward," US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Tuesday when asked about a possible US veto.
The United States is alone among the five permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council in opposing the resolution.
The other four -- Britain, China, France and Russia -- have all indicated they would probably vote for the resolution, diplomats said.
The diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East -- the United States, Russia, United Nations and European Union -- are to meet in Munich on February 5. Some diplomats said the fate of the resolution may only be decided after that.
© AFP 2013