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'Palestinians withdraw request for UN vote on US Mideast plan'

By AFP - Feb 10,2020 - Last updated at Feb 10,2020

A Palestinian man walks past the Dome of the Rock Mosque at Al Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, on February 7 (AFP photo)

UNITED NATIONS, United States — The Palestinians have abandoned their request for a vote at the UN Security Council Tuesday on rejecting the US Mideast plan, over a lack of international support, diplomats said.

Introduced by Indonesia and Tunisia, the resolution risked not having nine out of 15 votes in its favour, the minimum required for adoption provided there is no veto by a permanent member, the diplomats told AFP.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to take part Tuesday in a session on President Donald Trump's January 28 plan, which paves the way for Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank but also allows for a demilitarised Palestinian state.

The sudden Palestinian withdrawal of their request came after the United States — which enjoys veto power as a permanent member — proposed a series of amendments that could come for a vote at the session attended by Abbas.

In proposals seen by AFP, the United States would significantly alter the text to remove references to 1967 lines being the basis of peace.

It would also cut out a line stating that Jewish settlements built in the West Bank since 1967 are illegal, a position taken by virtually every country except the US and Israel.

The United States is also seeking to eliminate language that equated East Jerusalem with the occupied West Bank.

The Trump plan calls for recognition of the occupied city as Israel's undivided capital, while establishing a Palestinian capital on its outskirts.

While recognising that the Trump plan "departs from the internationally endorsed terms of reference and parameters", the US wants the resolution to state that the Security Council "welcomes discussion on this proposal to advance the cause of peace".

"Discussions are continuing on the text," a diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Other diplomats cast doubt on whether a vote could take place at a later date, considering the wide divergences in positions.

Diplomats, however, said they had no reason to think Abbas’ appearance would be scrapped.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian delegation arrived in Gaza on Monday seeking to ease tensions, a Hamas security source said, after Israel again attacked the enclave with air strikes.

Egypt has long served as a mediator between Israel and Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip, but further details on the latest visit were not immediately available. 

Israel’s army said in a statement that early on Monday its “aircraft and fighter jets targeted a number of Hamas terror targets in the southern Gaza Strip”.

A Hamas “training compound and military infrastructures” were among the targets, the army added.  There were no reports from Gaza of casualties or damage.

Israel has waged three onslaughts on Gaza since 2008.

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