UNSC Votes to End Israeli Settler Colonies
24 December 2016

It was the first time in eight years the UN Security Council had passed a resolution condemning Israel’s illegal construction of settler colonies in occupied Palestine. The vote came on Friday, following an unprecedented intervention of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that had U.S. President-elect Donald Trump pressuring Egypt eventually to withdraw is draft. New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela reintroduced the resolution.

Today’s resolution rests on the integrity of the foregoing series of Security Council resolutions since 1967, including its resolutions 242 and 338, which establish the boundaries of the internationally supported two-state solution. Significantly also, the new resolution S/RES/2334 reaffirms S/RES/465 (1980), which “Calls upon all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connexion with settlements in the occupied territories (para. 7).

However, despite the classification of the implantation of settlements and other practices of population transfer as crimes against humanity and war crimes since at least 1942, and explicitly cited in the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (1998), resolution 2334 condemns the Israeli practices as “inadmissible,” a “flagrant violation,” “not sustainable” and “dangerously imperilling the viability of,” and “eroding” a two-state solution.” The Council also asserted states international law obligations not to recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 border lines (para. 3). The resolution text avoided reference to the applicable international criminal law.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the adoption of a Security Council resolution that reaffirms the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 to have “no legal validity,” constitute a “flagrant violation” under international law and as a “major obstacle” to a two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.

“The resolution is a significant step, demonstrating the Council’s much needed leadership and the international community’s collective efforts to reconfirm that the vision of two States is still achievable,” the UN chief’s spokesperson said in a statement.

All UN Security Council resolutions are considered enforceable. Resolution 2334 calls for all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory to cease immediately, and recalls Israel’s Security Council-endorsed obligation to dismantle all settlement outposts erected since March 2001.

The United States has traditionally provided diplomatic cover to Israel by protecting it from condemnatory Security Council resolutions with its veto. However, that permanent member abstained from the vote on resolution 2334.

Israeli PM Netanyahu already has stated that he and the State of Israel would not abide by the resolution 2334. In the aftermath of the vote, Israel recalled its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal. Israel has no diplomatic ties with Malaysia and Venezuela.

The Palestinian delegation welcomed the UN resolution, which was passed by 14 votes to zero, with one abstention.

President-elect Trump, who will be inaugurated on 20 January, tweeted after the vote: As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.

Download S/RES/2334

Photo: Palestinian UN envoy Riyad H. Mansour greets Spanish envoy Roman Oyarzun Marchesi, president of the Security Council for December, ahead of the 23 December 2016 vote on Israeli settlements. Source: Manuel Elias/AFP.

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