Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has decided to carry out at diplomatic campaign at UN institutions aimed at increasing international pressure on Israel to stop its operation in Gaza. Israeli diplomats said that as part of this campaign, the Palestinians and the Arab states will seek a UN Security Council vote this week on a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.
On Saturday, the Israeli diplomats said, Abbas met with the PLO Executive Committee and drew up a seven-step plan aimed at pressuring Israel to stop the Gaza operation. He implemented the first step on Sunday, during a meeting with UN envoy Robert Serry.
At this meeting, he gave Serry an official letter to deliver to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in which he asked that “the State of Palestine,” as a country “under occupation,” be put under the “UN international protection system.”
The second step will be carried out on Monday, at an emergency meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki will ask his colleagues to draft a resolution calling for an end to the Israeli operation in Gaza that would be submitted to the Security Council for a vote later this week, or next week at the latest.
The Palestinians tried to get the Security Council to pass such a resolution last week, but the United States blocked this effort while it was still in preliminary stages.
In addition, the Palestinian Authority will ask the Swiss government to hold an emergency meeting of countries that are signatories to the Geneva Convention, which the Palestinians joined recently, to discuss the situation in Gaza.
The Palestinians also want to take advantage of their membership in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to ask the UN committee that implements this convention to pass a resolution declaring Israel an apartheid state during its conference in August. The Palestinians will also ask to convene an emergency meeting of the UN Council on Human Rights in Geneva to debate the crisis in Gaza and alleged violations of international law being committed by Israel during the current military operation.
The Palestinian leadership has also decided to examine the option of asking to join additional international conventions, and to examine what legal action it could take against Israel for its alleged war crimes against the Palestinians.
U.S.: Avoid escalation
Meanwhile, Washington is intensifying its efforts to arrange an Israel-Hamas cease-fire and pressuring Israel not to expand its operation in the Gaza Strip.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone on Sunday and asked him to avoid further escalation, while reiterating Washington’s willingness to help mediate a cease-fire along the lines of that reached following Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza in November 2012.
The secretary of state condemned the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, a senior American official said, and stressed Israel's right to self-defense. But at the same time, he asked Netanyahu to avoid further escalation.
"The secretary highlighted the American concern at escalating tensions on the ground," the official said.
Kerry spoke with Netanyahu shortly before the diplomatic-security cabinet met to discuss the continuation of Israel’s operation in Gaza and the efforts to reach a cease-fire. The senior American official said that Kerry briefed the prime minister about the talks he has held with leaders of other countries in the region as part of his effort to assist to halting the rocket fire from Gaza, preventing civilian casualties and restoring calm.
Later in the day, Kerry met with his French, German and British counterparts in Vienna, where all four had come to participate in talks with Iran on its nuclear program.
On his arrival at the Palais Coburg in Vienna on Sunday, where the talks are taking place, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that achieving a cease-fire and avoiding a further escalation in Gaza are the issues at the top of France's agenda.
"France is calling for a return to the ceasefire of November 2012," Fabius told reporters.
Speaking earlier, British Foreign Minister William Hague said that "there is an urgent need to stop the violence in Gaza and return to the cease-fire of November 2012."
Kerry also raised the issue of Gaza during his meeting in Vienna on Sunday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Earlier, a senior American official had told reporters in the Austrian capital that Kerry would use the meeting to urge Iran to stop arming Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza.
Iran, the official noted, has a long tradition of arming these organizations, and the missiles it provides are then launched at civilian populations. The Iranians thus have a responsibility to stop supplying such weapons, which only exacerbate the conflict, and America will use every possible opportunity to make this clear to them, he said.
Copy of the letter obtained by Haaretz from Western diplomats
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