A United Nations Security Council draft resolution that set a deadline to establish a sovereign Palestinian state was defeated Tuesday night after it failed to receive the nine votes that are needed for adoption in the 15-member body.
The United States and Australia voted against the measure. France, China and Russia were among the eight countries that voted for it. Britain and four other nations abstained.
The draft resolution, which was introduced by Jordan on behalf of the Palestinians, set a one-year deadline for negotiations with Israel; established targets for Palestinian sovereignty, including a capital in East Jerusalem; and called for the “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli forces” from the West Bank by the end of 2017.
The defeat could potentially lead Palestinian officials to seek recognition in other ways — including by joining the International Criminal Court.
Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said that the resolution was “deeply imbalanced,” setting deadlines that did not adequately take account of Israel’s security needs. “Today’s staged confrontation in the U.N. Security Council will not bring the parties closer to achieving a two-state solution,” she said. “This resolution sets the stage for more division, not for compromise.”
Yet Ms. Power also cautioned Israel against interpreting the vote as “a victory for an unsustainable status quo” and said continued “settlement activity” would also undermine the chances for peace.
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said in a statement on Tuesday night, “We presented a resolution that is fully in line with international law, and which recalls several previously approved resolutions by the United Nations.”
“Although the majority of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution,” he said, “once again, certain countries continue to ensure impunity to the Israeli occupation and its severe international law violations by not voting in favor of the resolution.”
At first, Secretary of State John Kerry sought to defer a vote on the resolution, which the United States and some of its European allies feared would inflame tensions before the Israeli elections that are scheduled for March and strengthen the position of Israeli hard-liners.
But American officials said it has been clear since Mr. Kerry’s mid-December trip to Europe that the Palestinians would insist on a vote. During that visit, Mr. Kerry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Erekat and ranking European and Russian diplomats.
So Mr. Kerry worked to line up enough abstentions from American allies like South Korea and Rwanda so that the United States would not have to wield its veto. Jeff Rathke, a State Department spokesman, said Tuesday that Mr. Kerry had called more than a dozen senior foreign officials over the previous few days, including a call Tuesday afternoon to Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria, which abstained.
Calculating that they were making headway, American officials were eager for the vote to occur this month instead of being deferred until January when the composition of the Security Council will change.
By avoiding a veto, the United States also avoided a fresh irritant in its relations with Arab nations, some of which have joined the United States in the campaign in Iraq and Syria against militants from the Islamic State.
European nations, which have been generally sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, were split. Britain and Lithuania abstained, but France and Luxembourg voted in favor of the measure.
François Delattre, France’s ambassador to the United Nations, acknowledged that his government had reservations about some elements of the resolution but said France decided to support it because of “an urgent need to act.”
Jordan, which represents Arab countries on the Council, had earlier pushed for compromise language that could win full support, but Arab diplomats ultimately backed the Palestinian bid to put it for a vote by the end of the year.
“The fact that this draft resolution was not adopted will not at all prevent us from proceeding to push the international community, specifically the United Nations, toward an effective involvement to achieving a resolution to this conflict,” Dina Kawar, Jordan’s ambassador to the United Nations, said after the vote.
The decision by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, to press for a vote also reflects intense domestic political pressure on him to regain credibility among an increasingly critical public.
In a December poll, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that four out of five Palestinians supported joining more international organizations, while three-fourths of them backed joining the International Criminal Court.
American diplomats have repeatedly warned the Palestinians that joining the International Criminal Court would lead to congressional sanctions.
Nonetheless, the Palestinian leadership has threatened for months to ratify the treaty that created the International Criminal Court, which would make Israel vulnerable to prosecution for crimes against humanity, particularly for its settlement activity.
The Palestinian leadership is to meet Wednesday in Ramallah and announce the next steps.
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