US abstains in UN vote denouncing Israeli settlements in Palestine

US abstains in UN vote denouncing Israeli settlements in Palestine

The United Nations Security Council [official website] passed a resolution, on Friday, which establishes that Israeli settlements in Palestine have no legal validity. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] welcomed the resolution, stating [UN report] that the settlements violated international law, and that they were an obstacle to the two state policy and lasting peace in the region. A spokesmen for the Secretary General stated [press release] that “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 Trump transition team, along with the Israeli government, had urged the United States to veto the resolution. The resolution passed 14-0 with United States ambassador Samantha Power [official bio] the the lone abstention. After the vote Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared [NYT report] “Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. and will not abide by its terms”.

The conflict surrounding the West Bank settlements has long been an issue in the region, and has raised many questions, including those involving human rights violations. Earlier this month a UN Human Rights chief announced that the settlements set up by Israel violated International Law. The Israeli High Court of Justice [official website] ruled in November that a controversial West Bank settlement of Amona must be dismantled by December 25th, despite challenges for an extension. Also in November the Israeli legislature approved a bill which would make the West Bank settlements legal, which was opposed by Netanyahu, preferring to wait for the High Courts decision. This conflict has been going on for many years; in November 2015 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged both sides to find a way to reconcile the conflict and find a way to peace after an arson ended with the death of a Palestinian child.