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RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinians will ask the U.N. Security Council in the coming days to condemn Israeli settlement construction, a senior Palestinian official said Wednesday, part of a growing Palestinian campaign to rally international pressure against Israel with peace efforts deadlocked.
The move reflects growing Palestinian discontent with U.S. efforts to broker a peace agreement by next September. American-mediated talks have been stalled for more than three months, in large part because of disagreements over Israeli settlement construction on captured lands claimed by the Palestinians.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that shortly after the New Year the Palestinians' Arab allies would present a resolution that will "declare that the Israeli settlement building is illegal and must be stopped immediately."
Palestinian officials acknowledge that such moves will have little immediate impact on the ground. Instead, they say they want the world to send a tough message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom they believe is not serious about pursuing peace.
President Barack Obama personally launched the latest round of peace talks at the White House on Sept. 2, vowing to broker an agreement within a year. Talks broke down just three weeks later with the expiration of a limited Israeli freeze on settlement construction.
The Palestinians say they will not resume talks until Israel stops building homes for Israelis in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and claimed by the Palestinians. Netanyahu has refused to renew the construction slowdown, and the U.S. has been unable to find a compromise to restart talks.
While the Palestinians say they are still committed to a negotiated peace deal, they have grown increasingly frustrated and begun to take alternative actions to put Israel on the defensive. As part of that campaign, they have been seeking unilateral recognition of an independent Palestinian state, even in the absence of a peace deal.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the Palestinian efforts do little to promote peace.
"By choosing unilateralism over direct talks, the Palestinians are declaring that they renounce peace altogether," he said. "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."