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Palestinians to submit draft on end of Israeli occupation to UN but hint at vote delay

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — An Arab-backed draft resolution on ending Israel's occupation of lands captured in 1967 is to be submitted later Wednesday to the U.N. Security Council for a vote, the Palestinian foreign minister said.

However, Riad Malki said the actual vote might be put off, suggesting a compromise is in the works to avoid a clash in the council.

The current draft, sponsored by Jordan on behalf of the Palestinians, sets November 2016 as a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from war-won lands the Palestinians seek for a state.

The U.S. is likely to veto such a resolution. Israel fiercely opposes any suggestions that the Security Council set a framework for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which broke down again in the spring after the two sides couldn't agree on the ground rules.

PHOTO: US Secretary of State John Kerry, second right, meets with Arab League secretary general Nabil El-Arabi, second from left, on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in London. The meeting was to discuss the ongoing peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, second right, meets with Arab League secretary general Nabil El-Arabi, second from left, on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in London. The meeting was to discuss the ongoing peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said after a three-day Europe trip devoted to Mideast diplomacy that it is important to avoid anything that interferes or "might be perceived as interfering" with Israeli elections planned for March. The priorities should be halting growing Israeli-Palestinian violence and creating conditions for an eventual resumption of negotiations, he said.

In the West Bank, Malki told the Voice of Palestine radio Wednesday that after Jordan submits the Arab-backed draft later Wednesday, there could be more negotiations on the wording.

Asked when the vote would be held, he said: "We were informed that France has agreed with the United States, the United Kingdom and Jordan to continue talks about the draft resolution in order to obtain the biggest possible number of votes and to avoid a (US) veto."

The Palestinian push at the Security Council is largely symbolic. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is under domestic pressure to take steps toward statehood after U.S.-led negotiations with Israel hit a dead end.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said France hopes to see a draft submitted that "is likely to have unanimous support."

"The Palestinians announced the submission of a text in New York," he said in an online briefing. "We will study it in light of that goal."

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