After a Stunning Abstention by the US, the UN Security Council Condemns Israeli Settlements

At a meeting of the UN Security Council in late December 2016, the US abstained from voting a resolution that condemned Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank. Since the US did not veto the vote, the UN adopted the resolution.

Egypt initially sponsored the resolution, but withdrew it after pressure from Donald Trump and Israel. However, one day later, several other members of the Security Council brought it to a vote, and 14 members supported it.

Trump was quick to tweet that things at the UN “will be different after Jan. 20th.” The President-Elect argued that the resolution hurts the negotiating position of Israel and is “extremely unfair to all Israelis.”

The settlements in the West Bank have long been contentious. Many experts argue that they hurt Israel’s security in the long run.

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In fact, US Ambassador Samantha Power quoted Ronald Reagan who said “Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel.” He went on to say that these settlements only diminish the confidence of the Palestinians that a final outcome could be “fairly negotiated.”

Power also said that the US has been saying that the settlements must stop, publicly and privately, for nearly 50 years. She also pointed out that the resolution condemns terrorism and calls on both sides to take part in peace talks.

The Ambassador did comment on how the UN has treated Israel unfairly over the years. A pivotal point was the 1975 resolution by the General Assembly that Zionism is a form of racism.

She also pointed out that the number of resolutions that the UN human rights council adopted against Israel this year was more than those focused on such notorious human rights violators as Iran, North Korea, Syria, and South Sudan combined.