Palestinian children hold candles as part of the Global Peace Rally at the office of Palestinian Legislator Mustafa Barghouti (not pictured) in the West Bank city of Hebron, December 7, 2008. REUTERS/Nayef Hashlamoun
Resolution 1850, a U.S.-Russian drafted text, received 14 votes in favor. Libya, the lone Arab member of the council, abstained.
“The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue, and there should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967,” said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, probably making her last appearance at the Security Council before president-elect Barack Obama takes office on January 20.
The vote took place at a high-profile ministerial session that also included Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Chinese deputy foreign minister He Yafei and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.
The text endorses principles underpinning Israeli-Palestinian peace at a time of transition with the arrival of a new U.S. administration and early elections scheduled in both Israel and among the Palestinians next year.
It also calls on both parties “to fulfill their obligations … and refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations.”
Russia’s Lavrov said the “adoption of the resolution is not an absolute guarantee… Much will depend on the ability of Israel and the Palestinians to honor their obligations, notably in the area of security.”
The text urges stepped-up diplomatic efforts “to foster in parallel with progress in the bilateral process mutual recognition and peaceful coexistence between all states in the region in the context of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
And it welcomed consideration by the Middle East quartet —- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — of an international meeting in Moscow next year.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert insisted on the “absolute necessity to respect humanitarian law.”
He said the law bans acts which “blindly target civilians such as attacks and rocket firing against Israel” as well “any form of collective punishment” referring to the brutal Israeli measures against the people of Gaza.
While deploring the council’s inaction in dealing with what he views as a threat to international peace and security, Libyan Ambassador Giaddala Ettalhi voiced hope that the resolution marked “a reversal of the behavior of the Council in the last few years.”
He slammed the deterioration of the situation in Gaza, where Israel further restricted the amount of humanitarian and other basic supplies allowed into the territory since a flare-up of violence in early November.
Monday, the quartet met here and called on Israelis and Palestinians to step up talks to end their conflict and establish a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.
The quartet has put forward a roadmap for the creation of a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.
But no tangible progress has been made on resolving the core issues of occupied Jerusalem (under illegal Israeli control since 1967), the future borders of a Palestinian state (swallowed by Israel) and Palestinian refugees (who were forced to flee their homes after an Israeli campaign of ethnic cleansing) since the Annapolis process was launched.
Israel and the Palestinians welcomed the passage.
“Israel welcomes the unequivocal support expressed by the Security Council for direct and bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” a foreign ministry statement said.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina characterized the resolution as “encouraging … especially because it calls for the total support of the international community for the peace process and allows us to keep up hope for peace” in the region.
He called on the Security Council and the Middle East peace quartet to “act quickly with the Israeli and Palestinian parties with a view to reaching a peace accord”.
For his part, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said he saw the resolution as a “positive step,” while expressing hope that it “does not end up on the shelf with other resolutions that have not been applied”.
He added that he was looking for Israel to cease its settlement activities and its occupation of Palestinian lands seized in 1967, including east Jerusalem.