New Zealand circulates UN resolution on Israel-Palestinians

Updated at: 10/29/2015 5:52 PM

(AP) UNITED NATIONS - UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A proposed U.N. resolution aimed at setting the stage for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations is almost certain to raise objections from both sides with its calls for a halt to Israeli settlement expansions and Palestinian action at the International Criminal Court.

The draft resolution, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, notes "with alarm the escalating cycle of violence" between Israel and the Palestinians. It declares that a two-state solution, achieved through direct negotiations, is the only path to peace.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully, whose country is serving a two-year term on the Security Council, told a council meeting last week that recent events "cry out for action."

The current wave of violence began in mid-September in Jerusalem amid tensions over a sensitive holy site and quickly spread deeper into Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Eleven Israelis and 58 Palestinians have been killed.

Israel says the latest violence is the result of Palestinian incitement. But Palestinians say it is the result of frustration stemming from nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation.

The draft resolution demands that Israel and the Palestinians take steps "to end the violence, avoid incitement and protect civilians." And it calls on both sides to refrain from "provocative acts, including acts which threaten the historic status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem," including the hilltop compound revered by Muslims and Jews.

With little prospect of negotiations amid the escalating conflict, New Zealand's McCully said the Security Council should mandate a course of action for the two parties to prepare for talks in "a realistic but early timeframe."

The draft resolution declares that the 17-month suspension of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians "is unacceptable" and calls on the parties to take steps to rebuild trust.

It asks members of the Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia — as well as sponsors of the Arab peace initiative and Security Council members to assist the parties in preparing for negotiations.

The Security Council has not adopted a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for six years because of deep divisions and prospects for this measure are uncertain. The United States, Israel's closest ally has blocked several proposed resolutions.

The draft calls on both parties to refrain from actions or statements that might undermine or prejudice negotiations or their outcome, "including continued expansion of settlements and demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories."

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon told AP: "This proposal is destructive instead of being constructive.

"The only way to achieve peace is through direct talks between the parties," he said. "The best way to reduce tensions in the region is to urge President (Mahmoud) Abbas to accept Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu's call to meet with him."

The draft also calls on the parties to refrain from "referring a situation concerning Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories to the International Criminal Court."

The Palestinians officially joined the ICC in April in hopes of prosecuting Israel for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 50-day Gaza conflict last year. The court's chief procesutor, Fatou Bensouda, has opened a preliminary investigation and the Palestinians reportedly need to provide documentation.

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