Palestinians seek U.N. vote on Israeli troop pullout

Palestinian officials say they have seven 'yes' votes in the 15-member Security Council and are seeking additional support

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The Palestinian U.N. ambassador said Friday his government wants the U.N. Security Council to vote on a resolution before the end of the year that would set November 2016 as the deadline for Israeli troops to withdraw from all Palestinian territories.

Riyad Mansour said Friday that if the resolution is defeated - which is almost certain because of opposition from Israel's closest ally the United States and others - the Palestinians have other options.

"This is not going to be an open-ended exercise," he said. "The main option is to go with a vote."

Palestinian officials said Thursday they have seven "yes" votes in the 15-member Security Council and are seeking additional support. A minimum of nine votes is needed for approval, and then the measure can be vetoed by one of the five permanent members, including the United States.

The draft resolution is an expression of Palestinian frustration with the repeated failure of U.S.-led negotiations with Israel on the terms of an independent Palestinian state. The last round broke down in April, after nine months of fruitless talks in which the two sides couldn't agree on the ground rules.

Mansour said the Palestinians will not go back "to the same kind of negotiations that have led us nowhere for more than 20 years."

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, asked earlier this month about a deadline for an Israeli pullout, said that the United States strongly believes the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through negotiations between the two parties.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor said when the draft was first circulated that by pursuing the resolution the Palestinians were "bypassing negotiations by taking unilateral action" and "avoiding a real dialogue."

Mansour said the Palestinians are committed to voting on the resolution and "the centerpiece of our resolution is the time frame."

He said one option if the draft resolution is defeated is for the Palestinians to join more treaties and conventions and the International Criminal Court.

When the U.N. General Assembly recognized a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in October 2012, the Palestinians gained the right to seek membership in U.N. institutions and treaty bodies and possibly take their complaints over Israeli settlement-building on occupied land to the ICC, which is independent. Earlier this year, it joined 15 international treaties and conventions.

"We want to create legal facts on the ground that we exist as a state," Mansour said, adding that joining additional treaties, conventions and the ICC will further "acknowledge that a Palestinian state does exist."

Palestine joined Paris-based UNESCO in 2011 before becoming a U.N. observer state, leading to a U.S. cutoff of funding to the educational, scientific and cultural agency under a U.S. law that bans support for any U.N. agency with Palestine as a member.

Mansour said the Palestinians may also go to the U.N. General Assembly where resolutions are not legally binding but there are no vetoes.

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