UNITED NATIONS - An Arab-backed Palestinian proposal calling for peace with Israel within a year and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by late 2017 failed to pass a UN Security Council vote on late Tuesday.

The Palestinians moved Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court as a new avenue for action against Israel after the UN Security Council bid failed. The Palestinians hope that ICC membership will pave the way for war crimes prosecutions against Israeli officials for their actions in the occupied territories.

But Israel said it would be Palestinian crimes which would be exposed to the judgment of the Hague-based court.

Eight member states voted in favour of the Palestinian bid in the 15-member Council, two (United States and Australia) voted against it and five abstained. The bid would have required the support of nine member states to pass, although in that case the US would have used it veto power to kill the draft resolution.

The votes in favour of the Jordan-introduced resolution came from France, China and Russia - permanent members - along with Jordan, Argentina, Chad, Luxembourg and Chile. Abstaining were Britain - also a permanent member - Nigeria, South Korea, Lithuania and Rwanda.

Diplomats wondered why the Palestinians and their backers chose to go ahead with a vote this week rather than wait a few days. The makeup of the new Security Council from January 1 2015 suggests the bid would have had greater success, since Australia, South Korea and Rwanda will be gone, replaced by Malaysia, Angola and New Zealand.(The other two newcomers, Spain and Venezuela, would also be in the yes camp, as are the countries they are succeeding, Luxembourg and Argentina.)

In a hard-hitting speech following the vote, Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour lashed out at Israel, accusing it of wilful and wanton violations of international law, the “theft and colonization” of Palestinian land, “rampant settler terrorism,” and, through provocations at Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, “threatening to ignite a religious war.”

“The brutalization of the Palestinian people reached a new apex of savagery, with the Israeli military aggression waged against the besieged and blockaded Gaza Strip in July and August of this year,” he said.  Mansour thanked by name those members of the council who had “righteously and honourably” voted in favour, but said the vote outcome showed that the body was “out of step with the overwhelming global consensus and calls for an end to the Israeli occupation.”

“The repeated requests for us to wait, and wait, and wait, while our people are suffering, while our people are besieged, while our land is being colonized and while the two-state solution is being destroyed and the prospects for peace are evaporating - must understand that such requests are not viable under these circumstances.”

In remarks evidently aimed at the US, Mansour said that “those eager to save the two-state solution must act, and cannot continue to make excuses for Israel and to permit, and thus be complicit in, its immoral and illegal behaviour.”

IN response, Israel's UN delegate Israel Nitzan-Tikochinski said, "I have news for the Palestinians - you cannot provoke your way to a state."   Nitzan-Tikochinski accused the Palestinians of finding "every possible opportunity to avoid direct negotiations," and urged the UN Security Council to "stop indulging the Palestinians and put an end to their march of folly."

The resolution called for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians within 12 months, an end to Israel’s occupation of land claimed by the Palestinians by the end of 2017, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers firebombed the home of a Palestinian family in the southern West Bank overnight, causing extensive damage but no casualties, the village mayor and witnesses said.

Five children and two adults were in the house in Yatta, south of the city of Hebron, at the time of the attack, in which several incendiary devices were hurled into the property through a window. Anti-Arab graffiti written in Hebrew near the property declared the attack had been "revenge".

Yatta mayor Mussa Mhamra condemned the "racist crime committed by settlers who wanted to kill an entire Palestinian family".

Moreover, members of Israel's ruling rightwing Likud began voting Wednesday for their party leader with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeking another term at the helm ahead of snap elections in March.

The primary, in which 96,651 members are eligible to vote, is the first electoral hurdle for Netanyahu who is hoping to secure a third consecutive term in office.

Political analysts say Netanyahu is expected to win the party vote in the face of just one challenge from Danny Danon, a former deputy defence minister and outspoken member of the party's far-right fringe.

Members are also voting to determine the frontrunners on the party list for the March 17 general election.