December 26 2016
Prime minister labels U.N. resolution on Jewish settlements a hindrance to peace
TEL AVIV—Israel’s prime minister on Saturday accused the Obama administration of a “shameful” act against his country after the U.S. helped pass a United Nations resolution that labels Jewish settlements illegal, saying it will only make it more difficult to negotiate peace with Palestinians.
The comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came a day after the White House broke from a longstanding tradition of defending Israel against censure by the U.N. Security Council. Palestinians, too, voiced skepticism that the resolution would advance a two-state solution to their decades-old conflict with Israel.
“The Obama administration made a shameful anti-Israel ploy in the U.N.,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “The decision not only doesn’t bring peace closer, it keeps it away.”
Mr. Netanyahu’s statements Saturday elaborated on the Israeli government’s comments after the resolution passed.
The Obama administration said the move to abstain was in line with decades of U.S. policy aimed at establishing a Palestinian state and condemning settlement construction.
The U.S. decision not to veto the resolution underscored the fractious relationship between President Barack Obama and Israel’s leader over the past eight years and again put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the center of global diplomacy.
It was the first time in 36 years the Security Council was able to adopt a resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It was approved with 14 members in favor and the U.S. abstaining.
Both government and opposition lawmakers in Israel criticized the U.S. decision. Officials accused the Obama administration of working behind Israel’s back with the Palestinians to put forward the resolution, a charge the White House denied.
The Obama administration for months had been considering ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks after the last round of U.S.-brokered negotiations collapsed in 2014. Israel’s government became increasingly convinced Mr. Obama might take action after Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, describing the time before the president-elect’s Jan. 20 inauguration as the “kill zone” for a move.
The resolution labeled Jewish settlement illegal and called on U.N. member nations to distinguish “in their relevant dealings between the territory of the state of Israel and the [Palestinian] territories.”
The organization that represents Jewish settlers echoed Mr. Netanyahu’s assertion that the resolution will only make Palestinians less apt to compromise on any Middle East peace deal and will encourage violence against Israelis.
A few hours before the U.N. passed the resolution on Friday, a Palestinian assailant stabbed an Israeli settler in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, wounding the victim before fleeing, Israel’s military said.
A few miles away from Efrat in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, residents celebrating Christmas Eve were skeptical that the U.N. resolution would change Israel’s policies. A resolution condemning the settlements had become more urgent for Palestinians with Mr. Trump’s election as he supports moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
Palestinians oppose such a move, as they want part of Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Palestinians welcomed the U.N. vote as a step forward in nonviolent resistance against Israel.
Written by: Rory Jones/WSJ. Com