Under U.S. pressure, the Palestinian Authority has dropped a prospective U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli housing plans in Judea and Samaria.
A draft resolution obtained by the Associated Press that would have demanded an immediate halt to all Israeli building activities across the Green Line was slated to be put to a vote as early as Monday.
The council will instead likely issue a non-binding statement supported by Washington that includes a denunciation of both the Israeli housing plans and recent Palestinian terrorist attacks.
In return, and as part of a broader informal deal to reduce tensions ahead of Ramadan, which will begin on March 22 or 23, Israel will postpone for several months the approval of additional construction beyond the Green Line, delay planned demolitions of Palestinian homes built without permits in eastern Jerusalem, curb evictions of Palestinians in illegal housing, and reduce the number of IDF raids in Palestinian cities, according to a report in the Walla website.
The Biden administration had been seeking a compromise in order to avoid wielding its veto in the Security Council.
To this end, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with both P.A. head Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday.
Blinken reaffirmed to both leaders Washington’s “commitment to a negotiated two-state solution and opposition to policies that endanger its viability,” according to the State Department. Blinken also “underscored the urgent need for Israelis and Palestinians to take steps that restore calm, and [the Biden administration’s] strong opposition to unilateral measures that would further escalate tensions.”
In a joint announcement last Tuesday, the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy, the British foreign secretary and the U.S. secretary of state said that they were “deeply troubled” by Israel’s recent decision to advance “nearly 10,000 settlement units” and its intention “to begin a process to normalize nine outposts that were previously deemed illegal under Israeli law.”
Israel’s Security Cabinet unanimously decided to legalize the communities in Judea and Samaria in response to a wave of deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem.
A slew of U.S. lawmakers had called on the Biden administration to veto the proposed P.A.-backed resolution.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to strike down the “biased, anti-Israel” initiative.
“As the U.N. Security Council once again moves to consider another one-sided, biased, anti-Israel resolution, it is imperative that the United States maintain its position that only direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can yield progress. For this reason, we urge your administration to use the voice and vote of the United States to oppose and veto any anti-Israel action, including resolutions, at the U.N. Security Council,” said the letter.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has vowed to promote unrestrained construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, despite opposition from the Biden administration.
“The real response to [Palestinian] terror is to continue to build, to continue to set roots in the Land of Israel,” said Smotrich at a meeting of his Religious Zionism Party in Givat Harel in the Binyamin region, one of the nine outposts the Security Cabinet decided to legalize.
“The American response is entirely understandable,” he continued, but “the [Biden] administration knows that this government is committed to the settlements. There’s nothing wrong with two friends having disputes. They understand, and that’s the way things will continue.”
An Israeli official said that no concessions have been made to the P.A. with a view to thwarting its diplomatic offensive at the U.N.