The UN Security Council is to hold a special meeting next week on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
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The Arria Formula meeting will not involve a vote and is expected to be open to the media. Foreign Ministry officials fear it will turn into an international demonstration of condemnation of the government’s policy in the territories and set the stage for an anti-settlement resolution in the Security Council after the U.S. elections.
The meeting will be held on October 14 at the behest of Egypt, Venezuela, Malaysia, Senegal and Angola, with a push from the Palestinians. Arria Formula meetings allow all council members to initiate debates on subjects of specific interest to them. Attendance is not mandatory.
In May the group held a Security Council meeting to discuss international protection for the Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Jerusalem officials say they believe all Security Council members will attend the meeting, stressing that the Palestinians and the host nations succeeded in exceptional fashion to open the session to the press. Jerusalem officials fear that in the wake of the U.S. condemnation of the decision to establish a new settlement for the Amona evacuees, Security Council members will level particularly harsh criticism. They fear the atmosphere from the informal meeting could affect the Security Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East on October 28.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly last month that the Palestinians would renew their efforts to pass a Security Council resolution condemning the settlements and declaring them illegal. Arab UN ambassadors met in New York on Wednesday to discuss possible articles for a resolution, though Arab states have not reached a consensus on a draft resolution.
Senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats believe the Palestinians are unlikely to push seriously for a Security Council resolution on the settlements until after the November 8 U.S. election. Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office officials fear that President Barack Obama will advance Security Council resolutions on the settlements or the principles for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A senior Israeli official said this issue was at the center of a Foreign Ministry meeting on Thursday.
The official, who requested anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, said some senior Foreign Ministry officials presented more pessimistic scenarios. One figure suggested that the latest State Department and White House condemnations express a mood that could lead to U.S. steps in the Security Council after the election.