The United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York on April 16, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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U.S. President Barack Obama called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday in an attempt to prevent the impending vote on a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

The Palestinian Authority and other Arab nations have pushed that the UN Security Council will vote on the resolution on Friday, and Washington has implored the PA to withdraw the proposal, but so far to no avail.

The U.S. has made it clear that it will veto the resolution should it come to a vote, and it would mark the first time the United States has used its veto power since Barack Obama assumed the presidency.

The point of the resolution, foreign diplomats say, is to highlight Washington's isolated position on the Security Council, show the Palestinian population that the Palestinian Authority is taking action, and to pressure Israel and the United States on the settlement issue.

Security Council members have carried out unofficial discussions on Thursday evening ahead of Friday's vote. UN sources told Haaretz that according to the discussions it seems that the United States is not the only member that is against carrying out the vote.

A senior diplomat said that the U.S. isn't alone in its reservations regarding the vote, and that the five permanent council members do not like votes which force a rift between the permanent members of the Security Council.

The diplomat said that the general feeling that comes from the unofficial discussions between member states it that they would rather go for a move that would not create conflict in the Security Council.

One of the attempts by the U.S. to thwart the vote was to offer a compromise to the Palestinians, that instead of a resolution condemning Israel, the U.S. would support a presidential statement that would call the settlement activity illegitimate, which is not legally binding as a UN Security Council resolution.

Intensive U.S. diplomatic efforts to revive direct peace talks between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu collapsed last year over settlement construction.

Israel has repeatedly called for a resumption of direct negotiations with the Palestinians. But the Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table until Israel first agrees to renew its 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement building.

Meanwhile, as the efforts to prevent the vote on the Resolution continue, Obama Administration officials have stressed that the U.S. government's attitude towards settlements has not changed.

"We, like every administration for decades, do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and a two- state solution, which we strongly support, but to Israel's future
itself", said the White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Despite the efforts to prevent the vote on the Resolution, Obama Administration officials stressed that the U.S. attitude towards settlements has not changed.

 

"We, like every administration for decades, do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and a two- state solution, which we strongly support, but to Israel's future
itself", said the White House spokesman Jay Carney.