UN Security Council resolution (2334) last Friday (23 December) states among others that the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no “legal validity”.
The settlements constitute 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.
The resolution goes on to 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.
The resolution also condemns all acts of terrorism and 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.
Last but not the least; the Security Council confirmed its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement.
The resolution was passed with 14 – 0 votes, after the US decided not to veto the resolution and abstained from voting. After the vote, the Israeli government lashed out against the countries that voted for the resolution and even accused the Obama administration for having initiated it.
Israel had hoped that it would weather the last days of the Obama administration without any diplomatic failures but was apparently wrong in believing that it could continue its settlement policy and always expect US to use its veto against any resolutions it did not like.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu reacted against the resolution because it indirectly refers to the Western Wall and the Jewish quarter in the old city of Jerusalem as “occupied territory” but deliberately ignored the fact that the resolution is primarily targeted against the Jewish settlement project in the West Bank.
In fact, Netanyahu is probable the first one who has called the Western Wall, a historical Jewish site dating from the second temple two thousand years ago, a “settlement”.
The resolution can hardly has come as a surprise to Israel unless its government has been in constant denial of the worsening situation in the West Bank and the position of the international community towards the settlements.
The Middle East Quartet published a report half a year ago where it warned against the unsustainable situation on the ground and offered recommendations on how to create conditions for a resumption of meaningful negotiations to achieve a two-state solution. The Israeli government ignored the recommendations.
Instead it wasted its energy during the whole month of December on how to deal with 40 settler families on a hilltop, Amona in the West Bank, who refused a Supreme Court decision to evacuate from private Palestinian land. Even according to Israeli legal standards there are illegal outputs that should be evacuated but instead the government intends to “regularize” them all.
While many Israeli commentators welcomed the UN resolution as a wake-up call for Israel, in Israel's best interest, the Israeli government’s reaction followed a well-known pattern. It blamed the outside world and did not see itself as responsible for a resolution which was a response to Israeli policies. The resolution could have been avoided or redrafted if Israel only had changed course and tried to relaunch the peace process.
Asked by The Brussels Times about the UN Security Council resolution, an EU spokesperson said that “the resolution reaffirms the long-held position of the EU and the international community on settlements. They constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make the two-state solution impossible.”
“Friday's vote, and the consultations ahead of it, highlights the vital importance of preserving the international consensus on the two-state solution and the need for the international community to stay united.
No one wants to impose a solution. There is no alternative to a two-state solution negotiated by the parties.
The EU will continue to work towards this end, together with its international partners, including in the Middle East Quartet and with countries in the region.”
The Brussels Times