Palestinians plan next move after failed UN vote
Palestinian officials say their leadership is planning its next steps after a resolution to end Israel's occupation was rejected by the UN Security Council.
They also said that the leadership could set a date for applying to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The UN vote was a blow to an Arab campaign for international action to achieve an independent Palestinian state.
The Palestinians have long vowed to join the ICC in order to press charges against Israel for alleged war crimes. But membership could expose the Palestinians to similar allegations.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said officials would hold a "very serious meeting" Wednesday and could set a date for applying for membership to the ICC and other international agencies.
Israel opposes the Palestinians' membership campaign.
Hamas critical, Israel 'satisfied'
Islamist Hamas movement denounced Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for the "failure" to push through the UN resloution on Palestinian statehood which would have set a 12-month deadline for reaching a final peace deal.
"This was a unilateral decision taken by Abu Mazen (Abbas) who has taken the Palestinian decision-making process hostage," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said, describing it as a "new failure" by the Palestinian leader.
Predictably, the failure to adopt the resolution was greeted with satisfaction by Israel.
"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.
Russian, Chinese support
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 by the 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". 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."
Israel 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 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 for war crimes.