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US Undecided on Vetoing UN Resolution Against Israel's Illegal West Bank Settlements


April 13, 2016
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Tovah Lazaroff, Herb Keinon, Danielle Ziri / The Jerusalem Post & Haaretz Editorial

The US State Department insists the Obama Administration has not taken any position on the potential veto of an upcoming UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law, and the Security Council is expected to simply reiterate that fact. The US vetoed an anti-settlement resolution in 2011, the only veto cast by the US during President Barack Obama's tenure.

http://news.antiwar.com/2016/04/10/state-dept-us-undecided-on-vetoing-un-resolution-against-west-bank-settlements/

State Dept: US Undecided on Vetoing UN
Resolution Against West Bank Settlements

<Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

Security Council members, especially the United States, must adopt this peace-advancing move and ignore the denunciations of the prime minister
-- Haaretz Editorial


(April 10, 2016) -- The US State Department insists the Obama Administration has not taken any position on the potential veto of an upcoming UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, saying no such resolution has been introduced yet, and that it would be premature to shoot it down yet.

Reports out of the UN suggest the Palestinians have been floating the idea of such a resolution, and Israeli officials are already inconsolably outraged at the notion, insisting that they will never allow Palestinian statehood to result from UN actions and the Palestinians are "deceivers."

France has also been reported to be interested in advancing a UN Security Council resolution trying to restart peace talks on Palestine, which have been stalled since 2014. Israeli officials have repeatedly said they expect the US to veto all such resolutions, irrespective of how they're actually worded.

The Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law, and the expectation is that the UN Security Council resolution is simply going to reiterate that fact. Israeli officials tend to rely on religious claims to justify the settlement expansion.



US Undecided on Veto of UNSC Resolution
Against West Bank Settlements

Tovah Lazaroff, Herb Keinon, Danielle Ziri / The Jerusalem Post

(April 10, 2016) -- The United States has yet to decide whether or not to support a Palestinian drive to push forward a UN Security Council resolution later this month condemning West Bank settlements.

"We understand there is an early draft that the Palestinians have shared informally in New York," US State Department Deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington on Friday. The US is one of five nations that have veto rights on all resolutions that come before the 15-member Security Council.

The US vetoed an anti-settlement resolution at the UN in 2011, which was the only veto cast by the US during President Barack Obama's tenure.

The US also has worked against similar initiatives at the council out of a belief that the best step forward is the resumption of direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

The peace process, however, has been frozen since April 2014 with little hope that it will be resumed during Obama's presidency, which ends in January. There is a growing fear among Israelis that Obama could change his tune with respect to a Security Council resolution.

"I'm not going to comment on what is really an informal draft resolution," Toner told reporters on Friday. "Nothing has been formally introduced or circulated at the Security Council, and nothing has been introduced by a Security Council member."

He clarified that the issue was not the US policy on Israeli settlement activity. The Obama administration has been vocal with regard to its opposition to such activity, he said.

"We've spoken from here and elsewhere about our concerns about ongoing settlement activity, and that we believe they're illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace in the Middle East. And that hasn't changed," he said.

But, Toner added, "I just want to set that apart and say that's just a draft resolution. It's not ready -- as we say, not ready for prime time yet. So we've seen it, but we're not going to comment on it at this current form."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a sharp response late Thursday night to reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas planned to bring an anti-Israel resolution to the council.

"Abu Mazen [Abbas] is taking a step that will push negotiations further away," Netanyahu said in a statement. "The only way to advance peace is by direct negotiations and Abu Mazen is avoiding this. The Palestinians educate their children on a daily basis that the settlements are Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre."

The move seemed to catch Jerusalem by surprise, as the focus of concern about activities at the UN has been centered on whether the French would bring a resolution on the Middle East peace process to the Security Council, and whether the US would veto it. There also has been concern that Obama, in the waning days of his tenure, might bring a proposal to the Security Council setting down his own parameters for a resolution.

According to Haaretz, the PA circulated a draft resolution last week to a number of Security Council members condemning settlement construction, and Abbas would like to bring the resolution to a vote when he visits the UN on April 22 to take part in a conference on climate.

Haaretz reported that the Arab League is to hold a special meeting on the matter on April 20, and that -- according to a Western diplomat -- some Arab countries have expressed concern about the resolution and have warned the Palestinians not to go ahead.

Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon also issued a statement on the matter. "The Palestinians must understand that there are no shortcuts" when it comes to resolving the conflict, Danon said.

"The only way to promote negotiations starts by them condemning terrorism and stopping the incitement, and ends with direct negotiations between the two sides. "[The Palestinians] are continuing to deceive the international community by putting forward initiatives that do nothing to better the lives of either side of this conflict," he said.

Last month the US spoke against a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution condemning West Bank settlement activity and creating a data base of companies that do business in and with the settlements. It could not vote against the resolution, because it is no longer a member of the 47-nation UNHRC. The US has since stated that it does not plan to comply with that resolution.

The EU, which opposes settlement activity, also took a stand against the resolution; the seven EU UNHRC members all abstained on the resolution.


Obama, Support Abbas' UN Resolution,
No Matter What Netanyahu Says

Security Council members, especially the United States, must adopt this peace-advancing move and ignore the denunciations of the prime minister

Haaretz Editorial

(April 9, 2016) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas keeps coming up with moves that could advance the peace process. In his efforts to get the international community behind a major initiative, Abbas is expected to submit to the UN Security Council this month a draft resolution reflecting international consensus that could help to jump-start the stalled peace process.

The resolution calls for the immediate resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, with a one-year deadline to complete them and reach a final-status arrangement based on the principle of two states.

It would define the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and an obstacle to peace and condemn continued Israeli construction in the occupied territories, as well as any action whose purpose is to change the demographic balance in the area.

The Palestinian resolution does not set out new conditions for the resumption of talks. It is supported by agreements and resolutions that the United Nations has already passed as well as remarks made by US President Barack Obama over the years in favor of new talks and against continued building in the settlements. In February 2011, a similar proposal was approved by 14 out of 15 Security Council members but was vetoed by the United States.

In the five years that have passed since then, the US administration has tirelessly endeavored to reactivate the negotiations. Obama himself came to Israel and Secretary of State John Kerry turned Israel into his temporary home, but both men ran into an impregnable wall.

Last month, Obama admitted that he did not believe an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would be reached before he leaves office in January. But that should not prevent him from preparing the ground for a future international effort to advance the two-state solution he believes in.

A veto of the latest resolution, which does not include a single clause that contradicts US policy, would constitute a diplomatic and moral renunciation of the peace process. It would give Israel permission to continue its settlement policy and would heighten the Palestinians' frustration and despair, which feed the terror attacks.

The Security Council members, especially the United States, must adopt the Palestinian resolution and ignore the denunciations of the prime minister.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who hasn't made a single move toward peace and has sabotaged the peace process with his support for the settlements, is exacerbating the security threats faced by both Israelis and Palestinians. Israelis, like Palestinians, need a vision of a positive future.

The Security Council must demonstrate daring that will breathe new life into the peace process.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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