The UN just put Israel on notice -- and the US let it happen

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (UN). Photo: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg/Getty

The UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding that Israel halt building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, a move that was permitted by the US’s abstention.

The resolution, put forward by by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Senegal, passed with 14 members of the council voting in favour. The US abstained, refusing to use its power as a sitting member of the Security Council to veto. In doing so, the Obama administration defied pressure from US President-elect Donald Trump, along with bipartisan members of Congress.

The resolution says that Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories have “no legal validity” and constitute a “flagrant violation under international law.” The settlements are a “major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State (sic) solution,” and a, “just, lasting and comprehensive peace,” the resolution says.

Members of the council clapped and cheered as the vote passed. It was the first time in 36 years the UN adopted a resolution on Israeli settlements.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, condemned the resolution, calling it a “provocative action,” that “must be dealt with sternly and forcefully.”

Graham said he would work to form a bipartisan coalition to “suspend or significantly reduce United States assistance to the United Nations.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas said in a statement that “President Obama is personally responsible for this anti-Israel resolution.”

“This resolution hurts the prospects for a secure and just peace by targeting Israel for building homes in Jerusalem, its own capital, while not specifically addressing Palestinian incitement of and financial support for terrorism,” he said.

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council that the US would not have let the resolution pass if it didn’t address “counterproductive” measures by Palestinians to the peace process.

The passage of the resolution comes near the end of an often contentious relationship between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. An unnamed Israeli official accused Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry of being behind the resolution earlier on Friday, Reuters reported.

“The US administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tailwind for terror and boycotts,” the official said.

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