Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
February 16, 2011 - 1:00am

The United States reportedly is backing a United Nations Security Council statement that would slam Israel on settlements but would stop short of a resolution.

The Security Council president's statement proposed by the Obama administration would express "strong opposition to any unilateral actions by any party, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community" and "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process," according to reports Wednesday in Foreign Policy and on All Hurrah, the U.S. government-run Arabic broadcaster.

It also condemns "all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza, and stresses the need for calm and security for both peoples."

The statement is a bid to head off a resolution drafted by the Palestinians that has the backing of many of the nations on the council. The Obama administration does not want the resolution, which hews closely to longstanding U.S. policy on settlements, to come to the council; vetoing it would appear hypocritical, but Israel and its U.S. supporters have said they would see withholding a veto as exposing Israel to a hostile body.

Foreign Policy reported that the Palestinian delegation rejected the compromise, and is pushing for a vote on the resolution as soon as Friday.

Presidents' statements are declarative and do not carry the authority of a resolution.

The mention of Gaza rocket fire in the reported proposed president's statement would also restore a semblance of balance. The draft resolution as it stands condemns unilateral actions generally, but only specifies Israel's settlements.

The statement would represent a shift in tactics, but not substance. Previous U.S. administrations have at least implicitly pushed for settlement freezes through the Security Council; the council in 2003 endorsed the "road map," which called for a settlement freeze.


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