Israel Reduces Ties With 10 Countries After UN Settlement Vote
On Friday UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2334 on Friday, condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The resolution was passed by a 14–0 vote with an abstention from the United States, the first such time the Obama administration has done so in regards to a resolution condemning Israeli action.
In a statement outlining the US decision, Ambassador Samantha Powers declared that the decision not to veto the resolution stemmed from the US’ longstanding position against any Israeli settlements in territories occupied after 1967. She also stressed the reasons for not supporting the vote were due to disagreement with the entirety of the resolution and their position that the Security Council and UN are too often biased against Israel.
While the resolution does not impose sanctions against Israel, it is nonetheless a significant development in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It calls for all member states to distinguish between the state of Israel and the territories, and for the UN Secretary General to report on the implementation of the resolution’s provisions every three months. Such measures provide a concrete call for action, rather than a one-off condemnation. The resolution gives a legal basis against settlements, which the Palestinian authority plans to pursue in the International Criminal Court.
Pro-Israel Americans and many Israeli leaders see the US’ absention from the vote as President Obama’s final pushback against Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. New York State Senator and first Jewish US Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer tweeted on Friday that he was extremely frustrated by the Obama administration’s position.
The resolution likely marks the final chapter in what has mostly been a fraught relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. It is otherwise hard to predict how the resolution will affect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict going forward. As he moves closer to his inauguration, President-elect Trump tweeted a rebuke to the UN, noting his presidency will be the start of a new era of the US and UN partnership. Apart from adopting a new resolution to reverse 2334, there is not much President-elect Trump can do for this specific situation.
Israel has responded to the passing of the resolution by recalling diplomats of Security Council member countries and passing approvals for new settlements in East Jerusalem. Today Foreign Ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, said Israel was limiting its “work contacts with the 10 relevant embassies [Britian, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Angola, Egypt, Uruguay, and Spain] here, as well as travels of officials from Israel to those countries … until otherwise decided.”
The deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Meir Turgeman, told Israel Hayom, “We remain unfazed by the UN vote or by any other entity that tries to dictate what we do in Jerusalem.”