UN Security Council passes resolution to end Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory; US abstains from vote

The Obama administration on Friday allowed the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements.

UN Security Council passes resolution to end Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory; US abstains from vote

United Nations: UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding Israel stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

However, in a reversal of United States practice to protect Israel (its closest Middle East ally) from United Nations action, it abstained from voting, allowing the measure to pass by a vote of 14 in favour in the 15-member council.

The resolution demands that "Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem."

It states that Israeli settlements have "no legal validity" and are "dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution."

It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years. 

The resolution was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump, as per Reuters.

The Obama administration defied pressure from Trump as well as Israel and several US senators who urged Washington to use its veto.

Ambassador Samantha Power said the US abstention stemmed from concerns that the expansion of the Jewish outposts was threatening the two-state solution aimed at achieving peace by creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

"We do not believe that outside parties can impose a solution that has not been negotiated by the two parties, nor can we unilaterally recognize a future Palestinian state," said Power.

"But it is precisely our commitment to Israel's security that makes the United States believe that we cannot stand in the way of this resolution as we seek to preserve a chance of attaining our longstanding objective of two states living side by side in peace and security," she added.

"The settlement problem has gotten so much worse that it is now putting at risk the very viability of that two-state solution," Power said.

Interestingly on December 22, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had urged US to veto "the anti-Israel resolution".

Israel criticises Obama administration

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon criticized the administration of President Barack Obama for not vetoing "this disgraceful resolution."

"I have no doubt that the new US administration and the incoming UN Secretary General will usher in a new era in terms of the UN's relationship with Israel," said Danon.

UN settler vote `big blow` to Israel: Palestinian presidency

Meanwhile, reacting to the UNSC vote, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's office said that the vote was "a big blow" to Israeli policy.

Presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP that the historic resolution was also a show of "strong support for the two-state solution".

Donald Trump promises change at UN

On the other hand, Trump vowed that the country`s policies at the United Nations will change after he takes office.

"As to the UN, things will be different after January 20th," he said on Twitter, referring to the date of his inauguration.

The tweet came after the US refrained from vetoing the adoption of a Security Council measure calling on Israel.

(With Agency inputs)

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