Palestinians to hold off move on Israeli settlements

UN resolution condemning settlement expansions will be put on hold to focus on a French peace proposal

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The Palestinian foreign minister said Thursday that a push for a UN resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement expansion will be put on hold to focus instead on a French proposal for a peace conference.

The draft resolution was circulated to Arab countries and to some members of the Security Council earlier this month as part of a drive for UN action in support of the two-state solution.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said the draft would be shelved to focus instead on the French initiative, which provides for a first ministerial meeting in Paris on May 30.

“We have agreed that our move at the Security Council should not jeopardize in any way the French initiative,” Maliki told reporters in New York following talks between president Mahmoud Abbas and Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who chairs the council this month.

US State Department: Settlements undermine peace efforts

“We should really sail smoothly in a way that the French initiative will continue,” he said, adding that the Palestinians would decide on formally presenting the draft text at a later time.

Diplomats said that France, Egypt and Saudi Arabia had discouraged the Palestinians from moving ahead with the proposed measure that would have put pressure on the United States to resort to a veto.

The Security Council failed in 2011 to adopt a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements after the United States vetoed it.

Earlier this month, Abbas said there was an “urgent” need for a UN resolution on Israeli settlements to salvage the two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine would be both recognized.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in Paris that the May meeting will prepare an international summit to be held in the second half of 2016, which would include the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been frozen since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

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