PA ‘backtracks’ on UN resolution against Israel amid US pressure

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has backtracked on pushing for a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlement activity after pressure from Washington, according to several reports.

The UNSC session which will focus on the “situation in the Middle East” and the “question of Palestine” is set to take place on Monday at 10am in New York City (15:00 GMT).

The Reuters news agency said on Monday that the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which had drafted the resolution along with PA officials, informed the UNSC that the resolution and the vote would be dropped.

Reports by several other US and Israeli news outlets citing diplomatic sources said the PA agreed to drop pursuit of the vote amid pressure from the US government, including promises of a financial aid package as well as a temporary suspension of announcements on new Israeli settlement units and Palestinian home demolitions.

“[US Secretary of State Antony] Blinken reiterated an offer to the Palestinians for a US package of incentives to entice them to drop or at least delay the resolution,” the Associated Press said in a report published on Sunday, citing “diplomats familiar with the conversations”.

“Those incentives included a White House meeting for Abbas with President Joe Biden, movement on reopening the American consulate in Jerusalem, and a significant aid package,” the report continues, adding that “Abbas was noncommittal”.

Another report published by the Axios news website, said that in addition, “Israel agreed to several economic steps that will increase Palestinian tax revenues by more than $60m a year.”

‘Security coordination’ with Israel

The website also said the PA agreed to “start talks on resuming security coordination with Israel,” a controversial policy which includes sharing intelligence information about activists and publicly stating it is helping Israel thwart attacks. The PA suspended “the security coordination” in the wake of a deadly Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp last month.

It added that the PA started to implement a “security plan” put forward by US officials “to restore its control in the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus,” where Palestinian armed resistance has been growing for more than a year.

The PA has not released any official statement about the reports, but local media quoted a Fatah official as saying that “the steps that will be taken by the Palestinian Authority will serve only the interests of the Palestinian people”.

The situation on the ground has become increasingly tense over the past few months under Israel’s new extreme right-wing government, which has taken steps to further ignite tensions including significantly increasing home demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and carrying out several large deadly raids in Palestinian cities.

Most recently, on February 13, the Israeli government approved the “legalisation” of nine settlement outposts and announced plans to advance thousands of new illegal settlement units, which prompted the UNSC draft resolution.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement that the decision crossed “all red lines” and undermined the revival of “the peace process”.

The US has criticised Israel’s decision to expand the settlements, but at the same time also expressed its reservations against a push for the UN to denounce the move.

Meanwhile, Israel told the US on Monday that it will not authorise new settlements in the coming months.

The PA, which has pockets of limited control, claims the 1967-occupied territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip as a future Palestinian state.

About 700,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In response to the dropping of the UNSC vote, Martin Konecny, head of the European Middle East Project, said “anyone framing this as a US diplomatic success is taking a very narrow & biased lens”.

“This is the US arm-twisting Palestinians to shelve entirely legitimate resolution, sidelining UNSC as guardian of int’l order & shielding Israel’s expansionism,” he added.

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