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UN Security Council Adopts Anti-settlement Resolution; U.S. Abstains

U.S. didn’t veto the resolution because it's consistent with U.S. policy, Samantha Power says; Trump: 'Things will be different after Jan. 20'; Palestinian envoy: This is a step toward healing 70-year wound.

By Barak Ravid        23 December 2016   Haaretz
U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, tonight at the Security Council
U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, tonight at the Security Council C-SPAN, UNTV
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said following the vote that "Today the Security Council reaffirmed its established consensus that the settlements have no legal validity."
She noted Barak Obama has been the only U.S. president since 1967 during whose tenure a UN Security Council resolution on settlements hasn't been passed.
"The United States has been sending a message that the settlements must stop privately and publicly for nearly five decades," she said.
"One cannot simultaneously champion expanding Israeli settlements and champion a viable two state solution that would end the conflict. One had to make a choice between settlements and separation."
Power said that the U.S. didn’t veto the resolution because it reflects facts on the ground and is consistent with U.S. policy. 
She said that the U.S. didn't vote in favor because the resolution is too narrowly focused on settlements. Even if every single settlement is dismantled, peace won't be achieve without both sides' cooperation, she said.
"We wouldn’t have let it pass had it not addressed counterproductive actions by the Palestinians ," she said.
The achievement claimed by certain officials in Israel at the last-minute postponement of Egypt’s presentation of its draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council should not blur the fact that it was a wake-up call for the current Israeli government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emergency efforts to stop the move – which proposed a halt to West Bank settlement, the definition of the settlements as illegal and a distinction between the settlements and Israel – while in the background hovered a concrete threat that America might abstain from using its veto, hinted that Israel’s leaders were surprised by the developments.
It is no surprise that Israel was caught unprepared: After the euphoria that the identity of the new American ambassador has created in the right wing in Israel, the promises to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and the general forecasts of an administration that supports the settlements, it is possible to say that Netanyahu went to sleep with Donald Trump - and woke up with Barack Obama.
On the way to this collision, Israel – and Netanyahu, especially – made a series of tactical mistakes and one large strategic mistake: Settlement in an occupied territory with the intention of annexing it, in violation of international law and the decisions of the UN Security Council.
Among the tactical mistakes, the latest was, of course, the the process of legislating the “expropriation law,” the meaning of which is the anchoring of the occupation in law. This law, alongside the extremist statements in Israel regarding the expected approach of the Trump administration to the conflict, seem to have been the main reason that the international community has responded now.
Obama has never hidden from Netanyahu his demand that construction of the settlements be frozen, so that the situation in the occupied territories will not be irreversible by the time peace negotiations are held. Netanyahu even gave his partial agreement to the demand for a while, though it subsequently gave way to what was seen as unforgiveable behavior - he spoke against Obama’s position in Congress and the UN, the same stage on which he now fears he will suffer a defeat from the outgoing American president.
It appears that the danger has been removed from the agenda for now, but Israel needs to listen to the voices coming from the UN. With no connection to the veto question and the level of support for the settlements from any specific American president, Israel must begin marching on a more moral path. It must stop the settlements and create a convenient foundation for renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians. There is no real alternative.
Haaretz Editorial
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The Full Text of the UNSC Resolution on Israeli Settlements
UN Security Council adopts anti-settlement resolution; all but one member of the 15-member council votes in favor of the resolution.
Haaretz Dec 24, 2016 12:34 AM
Members of the United Nations Security council vote at the United Nations headquarters on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016.
Members of the United Nations Security council vote at the United Nations headquarters on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. AP / Manuel Elias
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The Security Council,
Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008),
Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,
Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines,
Recalling the obligation under the Quartet Roadmap, endorsed by its resolution 1515 (2003), for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including “natural growth”, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001,
Recalling also the obligation under the Quartet roadmap for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons,
Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,
Stressing that the status quo is not sustainable and that significant steps, consistent with the transition contemplated by prior agreements, are urgently needed in order to (i) stabilize the situation and to reverse negative trends on the ground, which are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality, and (ii) to create the conditions for successful final status negotiations and for advancing the two-State solution through those negotiations and on the ground,
1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution;
5. Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;
6. Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and calls for compliance with obligations under international law for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism;
7. Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law, including international humanitarian law, and their previous agreements and obligations, to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace;
8. Calls upon all parties to continue, in the interest of the promotion of peace and security, to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process and within the time frame specified by the Quartet in its statement of 21 September 2010;
9. Urges in this regard the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;
10. Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement;
11. Reaffirms its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions;
12. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution;
13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
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Analysis: UNSC resolution won't have practical repercussions on Israel in short term
 The Security Council resolution will not have any practical repercussions on Israel in the short term. It does not include any coercive mechanisms or sanctions on those who do not implement it, other than the quarterly reports by the UN Secretary General to the council on the status of building in the settlements.
The resolution was passed under Section 6 of the UN Charter, which means that it is non-binding and constitutes a public declaration of purpose and a recommendation only. It is a diplomatic message to Israel that encapsulates the international consensus regarding settlements.
For the resolution to be binding and to enable enforcement or the imposition of sanctions, by the international community, it would need to be passed under Section 7 of the UN Charter. (Barak Ravid)
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White House: Netanyahu's Settlement Policy Responsible for UNSC Resolution Passing

Secretary of State John Kerry says the resolution on the Israeli rightly condemns 'incitement and settlement activity.'
Barak Ravid Dec 24, 2016 12:03 AM
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Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, who is considered one of President Barack Obama's closest a
dvisors, told reporters shortly after the UN Security Council vote in favor of an anti-settlement resolution that the president and Secretary of State John Kerry have warned Israel time and again over recent years both publicly and privately that continued settlement expansion would lead to growing international pressure on Israel.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "had an opportunity to lead a policy that would get a different outcome," Rhodes said. "If we didn’t see acceleration in settlement activity and wouldn’t hear that kind of rhetoric from the Israeli government than maybe the U.S. would have taken take a different view. The fact this is happening towards the end of our eight year shows that this is not our preferred course of action. Obama gave speech after speech and kept warning that the trends will lead to greater international efforts to pressure on Israel … We were compelled to do it because of the choices that were made over years by the Israeli government in building settlements and not taking different opportunities that were presented to promote the peace process."
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Rhodes explained that in in recent years the Obama administration had become increasingly concerned with the expansion of settlements, as well as the growing violence and intensifying incitement on the Palestinian side. Both issues, he said, were addressed in the UNSC resolution that was approved. "We thought we couldn’t in good conscience veto such a resolution. In absence of peace process and in the face of accelerated settlement activity we had no other choice but to not veto this."
Obama's senior advisor rejected the criticism voiced by the Prime Minister's Office over the last day, and said it was full of "falsehoods and inaccuracies." Obama had done more for the security of Israel than any past president, he said, including the signing of a $38 billion military aid agreement. "With this criticism it seems the Israeli government wants the conversation to be about everything but settlements," Rhodes said.
He mentioned a sharp rise in the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, who now number 590 thousand, 90 thousand of them in isolated settlements beyond the security barrier. According to him, the growth in settlement building is not taking place in what Israel calls "the settlement blocs" but in the entire West Bank.
"Netanyahu said his government is more committed to settlements than any other government, so we are very concerned," Rhodes said. "We can't simply have the 2-state solution be a slogan when on the ground it is becoming less and less viable."
Kerry also commented on the resolution Friday, calling on Israel and the Palestinians to advance prospects for a two-state solution.
Kerry said in a statement that the United States did not agree with every aspect of the resolution. But he said the UN measure "rightly condemns violence and incitement and settlement activity and calls on both sides to take constructive steps to reverse current trends and advance the prospects for a two state solution."
Barak Ravid
Haaretz Correspondent
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 Palestinian envoy: Anti-settlement resolution a step toward healing 70-year wound

The Palestinian envoy told the UN Security Council that that the resolution is a "necessary step for addressing a 70-year open wound" of the occupation.  

He called on the Security Council to "stand by this decision, by the law and on the right side of history ."

23.12.2016 | 22:49

Abbas spokesman: UN resolution 'a big blow to Israeli policy'

The resolution adopted by the UN Security Council a blow to Israeli policy, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman says following the vote.

"The Security Council resolution is a big blow to Israeli policy, a unanimous international condemnation of settlements and a strong support for the two-state solution," spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said in a statement.

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