UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council issued a formal statement on Monday denouncing Israel’s plan to expand settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, the first action the United States has allowed the body to take against its ally Israel in six years.
Washington’s support for the presidential statement — action the 15-member council has to agree by consensus — came after the United Arab Emirates said it would not put a stronger draft resolution on the issue to a vote, a move that could have prompted a US veto.
“The Security Council reiterates that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines,” the council said in the statement.
“The Security Council expresses deep concern and dismay with Israel’s announcement on Feb 12.”
In contrast the draft resolution would have demanded Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.” Resolutions need nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Russia, China, France or Britain to be adopted.
Israel’s religious-nationalist coalition government on Feb 12 granted retroactive authorisation to nine settler outposts that had been erected without government approval, angering the Palestinians, who want the West Bank for a future state.
The UAE told Security Council counterparts on Sunday that it would not put the draft resolution to a vote on Monday “given the positive talks between the parties.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office then said on Monday that Israel will not authorise new settlements in the occupied West Bank in the coming months.
US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the Security Council that the United States opposes Israel’s Feb 12 settlement plans.
“These unilateral measures exacerbate tensions. They harm trust between the parties. They undermine the prospects for a negotiated two state solution. The United States does not support these actions full stop,” she said.
Thomas-Greenfield described the presidential statement as “real diplomacy at work” that shows how seriously the council “takes these threats to peace,” adding: “The United States joined other members of this council in asking both Israelis and Palestinians to take the urgent and necessary steps to restore calm and improve the quality of life for their people.”
In December 2016 US President Barack Obama’s administration abstained on a Security Council vote, allowing the body to adopt a resolution that demanded Israel stop building settlements.
Most world powers view as illegal the settlements Israel has built on land it captured in a 1967 war with Arab powers. Israel disputes that and cites biblical, historical and political links to the West Bank, as well as security interests.
Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2023