UN Security Council Calls an End to the Israeli Settlements

Trump warns UN to wait for January 20

The UN Security Council passed a resolution urging Israel to end its illegal settlements after the U.S. opted not to vote.

Egypt, which initially proposed the resolution withdrew after Israel asked Trump to intervene. The other four non-permanent members (Malaysia, Senegal, New Zealand, and Venezuela) proposed the resolution again.

The U.S. has sheltered Israel from condemning resolutions in the past. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would not abide by the vote. Israeli ambassadors in Senegal and New Zealand were called back for consultations, while Israel has no diplomatic ties with Venezuela and Malaysia.

Palestinian leadership welcomed the resolution which was passed by 14 votes to zero, with one abstention from U.S. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman said that the UN resolution was a big blow to the Israel policy as it condemned Israeli settlements and showed strong support for the two-state solution.

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted

“As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

On January 20, Trump will be officially sworn in as 45th U.S. President.

The Jewish settlements are the most contentious issue between Israel and the Palestinians, who see the settlements as an obstacle to peace. There are around 140 settlements in which around 500,000 Jews live; the settlements were built after Israel’s occupation of West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. The settlements are considered illicit under international law, a fact disputed by Israel.

The official statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said:-

“Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms. At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half a million people in Syria, it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, and calls the Western Wall ‘occupied territory’. The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes. Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.”

Samantha Power, The U.S. Ambassador to UN, said that the U.S. decision reflected ground realities. She stated that the settlements were an obstacle to the two-state solution and criticized Mr. Netanyahu’s support for settlement expansion.

She further added that the U.S. didn’t vote for the resolution because it was “too narrowly focused” on settlements; both the sides would need to acknowledge harsh truths and make difficult choices even after the settlements are dismantled.

The U.S. reversed its longstanding policy to shelter Israel from condemning resolutions. The decision to not veto the condemnation resolution was taken after months of debate in the administration. By abstaining from voting, President Obama defined his position and support for a two-state solution before leaving the office. But Trump has taken a strongly pro-Israel stance as his latest intervention and tweets reflect.