Britain, France will back UN draft rejecting US Jerusalem move

Riyad H. Mansour, Palestine's Ambassador to the United Nations (L) speaks with France's Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre (R) after a UN Security Council meeting over the situation in the Middle East on December 18, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York. The UN Security Council is to vote on a draft resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2017
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Britain, France will back UN draft rejecting US Jerusalem move

UNITED NATIONS: Britain and France, Washington’s closest allies, said Monday they will back a UN draft resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Security Council is set to vote on the proposed measure put forward by Egypt that would reaffirm that any decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem “have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”
Diplomats said they expected the United States to use its veto power to block the measure but that most, if not all, of the 14 other members are expected to back the draft resolution.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre praised the Egyptian draft resolution as a “good text” that is “completely in line” with current UN resolutions that reflect the international consensus on Jerusalem.
Delattre said France will support it and that he expected the “overwhelming majority” of council members to do the same.
Breaking with international consensus, Trump this month announced that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, sparking protests and strong condemnation.
The Security Council text expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem” — without specifically mentioning Trump’s announcement.
Aside from the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia can veto any resolution presented at the council, which requires nine votes for adoption.
US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Jerusalem on Wednesday, wading into the crisis over one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital. The Palestinians view the east as the capital of their future state.
British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the proposed text was in line with London’s position on Jerusalem as an issue that must be resolved through negotiations.
Despite a likely US veto, Rycroft said the United States “will continue to play an extremely important role in the search for peace in the Middle East.”
US Ambassador Nikki Haley signalled during a council meeting held ahead of the vote that the United States was ready to use its veto by recalling that the former US administration had abstained in a vote condemning Israeli settlements last year.
The council put Israeli-Palestinian peace “further out of reach by injecting itself” in the process, Haley said, recalling last year’s vote.
“We will not make that mistake again,” she warned.
After a brief open session, the council went into a closed meeting requested by Ukraine, a close US ally, to discuss the measure.
The draft resolution calls on all countries to refrain from opening embassies in Jerusalem, reflecting concerns that other governments could follow the US lead.
It demands that all member-states not recognize any actions that are contrary to UN resolutions on the status of the city.
Several UN resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from territory seized during the 1967 war and have reaffirmed the need to end the occupation of that land.
The Palestinians had sought a toughly-worded draft resolution that would have directly called on the US administration to scrap its decision, but the final version was softened to draw maximum support.
Backed by Muslim countries, the Palestinians are expected to turn to the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution rejecting the US decision, if, as expected, the measure is vetoed by the United States at the council.


Gaza truce holds after Israeli strikes over soldier death

Updated 29 min 30 sec ago
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Gaza truce holds after Israeli strikes over soldier death

  • Israel’s army and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to confirm a truce was reached
  • The United Nations urged all sides to step “back from the brink” after months of increasing tensions

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: A cease-fire announced by Hamas largely held Saturday after a wave of deadly strikes across the Palestinian enclave sparked by the death of an Israeli soldier shot near the border.
Israel did not confirm the deal announced by Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, which went into effect around midnight Friday.
Since then there have been no reports of Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave or of mortar fire from Gaza toward Israel.
“With Egyptian and UN efforts, we reached (an agreement) to return to the previous state of calm between the (Israeli) occupation and the Palestinian factions,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.
He gave no details of the deal.
Israel’s army and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to confirm a truce was reached.
“All we can say is that there have been no incidents or Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since the last wave of airstrikes on Friday night,” a military spokeswoman told AFP.
On Friday, three Hamas militants were killed as air raids sent fireballs exploding into the sky over Gaza, while Israel said rockets had been fired back at its territory. A fourth Palestinian was shot dead in protests near the border.
The United Nations urged all sides to step “back from the brink” after months of increasing tensions.
The soldier, shot dead along the border in southern Gaza, was the first to be killed in and around the Palestinian enclave since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
Friday’s flare-up is the latest as demonstrations and clashes on the frontier since March have seen at least 149 Palestinians killed.
The Israeli army said they struck 60 Hamas sites including weapon manufacturing sites, a drone warehouse and a military operations room.
The cease-fire is the second since in a week.
Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since the 2014 war.