JERUSALEM, Dec 31 – Israel expressed satisfaction on Wednesday after the UN Security Council failed to adopt a controversial resolution on Palestinian statehood setting a 12-month deadline for reaching a final peace deal.
“Every Israeli who wants peace with our neighbours can only be satisfied with the results of this vote,” deputy foreign minister Tzahi HaNegbi told public radio several hours after the resolution failed to pass within the 15-member council.
“This deals a blow to efforts by (Palestinian president) Mahmud Abbas to embarrass and isolate us,” said HaNegbi, a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Eight countries voted in favour, among them three of the council’s five permanent members — China, France and Russia — but the resolution fell short of winning the nine “yes” votes necessary for adoption in the 15-member council.
Australia and the United States voted against, and five other countries abstained, including Britain.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Palestinian attempts to secure their long-awaited state through “unilateral” moves at the United Nations would never achieve anything.
“The failure of the Palestinian vote at the Security Council should teach the Palestinians that provocations and attempts to force Israel into unilateral processes will not achieve them anything — quite the opposite,” he said in a statement.
He denounced the countries which backed the resolution, particularly “some European states”. Tiny Luxembourg joined France in voting for the text.
Lieberman said any state which wanted to see an end to the decades-old Middle East conflict “must act with responsibility and make clear to the Palestinians that decisions can only be taken around the negotiating table.”
Public radio said although Israel had narrowly avoided a fiasco, it was only “a short-term victory” which would not halt international pressure for a peace deal with the Palestinians.
The Palestinian leadership was to meet Wednesday over the next steps in its campaign for statehood.
President Mahmud Abbas was to gather with top officials in his West Bank base of Ramallah at 1630 GMT and brief them on his plans in a speech to be broadcast live by Palestinian television.
The Palestinians have warned that if the resolution failed, they would seek to join a number of international organisations including the International Criminal Court, where they could sue Israeli officials for war crimes.
For its part Russia expressed regret at the failure, describing it as a “strategic error”.
“Russia regrets that the UN Security Council did not manage to adopt the draft resolution,” Russia’s envoy to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said after the vote late on Tuesday.
“We consider this a strategic error,” he told the council in footage broadcast by the Rossiya 24 state news channel.
The Russian ambassador accused Washington of “monopolising” peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as of bringing the negotiations “to a dead end”.