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Palestinians Seek UN Condemnation of Israeli Settlements

Houses under construction are seen in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim, 08 Dec 2010

With the Middle East peace process in tatters, the Palestinians are taking their struggle to the United Nations.

The Palestinians have drawn up a draft resolution condemning Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements that will be presented to the U.N. Security Council. Palestinian officials say 15 nations worked on the resolution, and they expect it to be put to a vote in February.

Palestinian spokesman Nabil abu Rudeineh says Israeli construction in the West Bank and disputed East Jerusalem is a violation of international law.

"The Palestinian position is clear: All settlements are illegal and there should be total cessation of any settlement activities," he said.

The Palestinians pulled out of peace talks in September after Israel refused to extend a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction. Efforts by the United States to revive negotiations have failed, so they decided to turn to the international arena.

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon says the Palestinians, with the backing of the Arabs states, are conducting political warfare.

"Political warfare is replacing actually the warfare on the battlefields," he said. "If they tried to take us on militarily and they could not, and then economically and they could not, and with terror and they could not, now the front is political warfare."

Israel has traditionally relied on the backing of the United States in the U.N. Security Council, but the two countries have been at loggerheads over the settlement issue, and some analysts say Israel cannot rely on a U.S. veto.

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