New Zealand steps up UN push for Israeli-Palestinian talks

A draft UN resolution by New Zealand aimed at reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks calls for a freeze on Jewish settlements and halting moves to prosecute Israel at the International Criminal Court.The text has been circulated to the 15 Security Council members, as well as Israel and the Palestinians, diplomats said Thursday.The measure is the latest attempt by the UNs top body to try to forge a consensus on the way forward in the Middle East peace process amid a new flareup of violence.The draft resolution calls on Israelis and the Palestinians to end the violence, prepare for peace talks and declares the two-state solution to be the “only credible pathway to peace”, according to the text seen by AFP.But the text touches on two sensitive issues that are bound to raise hackles on both sides: Jewish settlements and the Palestinian push to prosecute Israel for war crimes at the ICC.The 10-point measure calls on both sides to refrain from action that could undermine the peace effort “including continued expansion of settlements and demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories.”It also demands a halt to “referring a situation concerning Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories to the International Criminal Court” after the Palestinians joined the ICC this year.Israel has roundly rejected the initiative, stating the two-state solution can only be achieved through bilateral talks.New Zealands Foreign Minister Murray McCully told the Security Council last week of his plan to present a draft resolution that he said could help “stimulate a level of debate” on the crisis.New Zealands initiative came after France circulated a draft for a council statement that failed to win agreement, highlighting difficulties to forge a consensus in the council.The council has not adopted a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process since 2009 and its last formal statement dates back to September 17 when it called for calm at Jerusalems flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque.A spate of protests and attacks in Jerusalem has eased, but tensions are now concentrated in the West Bank city of Hebron, where near-daily clashes pit youths against Israeli soldiers.


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