Israeli Settlements: Trump Proposes Veto. Obama Says “No”

Construction workers in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Such Israeli settlements have expanded in recent years. UN Photo: Annie Slemrod/IRIN
Construction workers in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Such Israeli settlements have expanded in recent years. UN Photo: Annie Slemrod/IRIN

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed Friday the adoption of a Security Council resolution which states that the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, have “no legal validity,” constitute a “flagrant violation” under international law and are a “major obstacle” to a two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.

“The resolution is a significant step, demonstrating the Council’s much needed leadership and the international community’s collective efforts to reconfirm that the vision of two States is still achievable,” the UN chief’s spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General takes this opportunity to encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work with the international community to create a conducive environment for a return to meaningful negotiations,” the spokesperson added. “The United Nations stands ready to support all concerned parties in achieving this goal.”

Earlier, the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump had stated that the resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed.

“As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations. This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis,” Trump said in a statement released Thursday.

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On Friday, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is active in defending Israel and the Jewish people, called President Obama’s decision to abstain at the United Nations – refusing to veto an anti-Israel resolution – “an act of utter cowardice” and amounts to a “betrayal of our most important ally in the region.”

By abstaining instead of vetoing the resolution, the Obama Administration cleared the way allowing the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction, ACLJ said.

“In an act of utter cowardice President Obama has betrayed Israel,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ.

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The 15-member Council adopted the resolution Friday by a vote of 14 in favour and with one abstention – the United States abstained from the vote. The resolution had been put forward by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela.

In the resolution, the Council reiterated its demand that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard.”

The Council also underlined that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.

The resolution called for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction.

It further called for compliance with obligations under international law for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism.

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Rakesh Raman