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The Palestinians will ask the United Nations Security Council next month to approve a motion calling on Israel to halt settlement expansion in the West Bank.

The construction by Israel has been a major obstacle to achieving progress in peace talks. In September the Palestinians halted direct bilateral negotiations after the Israeli government refused to commit to an additional long-term moratorium on settlement construction.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the settlement drive was leaving Israel increasingly isolated.”The Israeli government is witnessing an international isolation that it hasn’t witnessed before,” he said. “And this is due to the efforts exerted by the Palestinian leadership and by President Mahmud Abbas.”

Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the Palestinian initiative would do little to promote peace. “The Palestinians are choosing not to renew negotiations and are doing all they can to score minor points. They are trying everything except to talk,” he said.

The White House is against Israeli construction in the West Bank, including in Arab neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem, but it is not clear how the US, which has in the past vetoed anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, will vote in a Security Council session.

President Abbas will speak with foreign leaders over the next few days in an effort to garner support for the recognition of an independent Palestinian state. Mr Abbas will be in Brazil, together with other world leaders, to attend the January 1 inauguration of Brazil’s new president.

Here are excerpts of the draft resolution the Palestinian Authority intends to have presented to the United Nations Security Council in the coming days.

– “Reaffirms that the Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace…”

– “Reiterates its demand that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard…”

– “Urges in this regard the intensification of international and regional diplomatic efforts to support and invigorate the peace process towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” telegraph

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