image Photo: Flash90, Reuters

Netanyahu condemns UN anti-settlement statement

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued a formal statement on Monday denouncing Israel’s plan to expand Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria – marking the first action the United States has allowed the body to take against its ally Israel in six years.

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

“The UNSC Security Council has issued a one-sided statement which denies the rights of Jews to live in our historic homeland, fails to mention the Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem in which 10 Israeli civilians were murdered, ignores the Palestinian Authority’s grotesque Pay-for-Slay policy – which subsidizes the murder of Jews, and belittles the evil of antisemitism, which has resulted in the slaughter of millions,” said a statement issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The statement should never have been made and the United States should never have joined it,” underscored the Israeli leader.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also issued a response, saying “Distinguished Council members, you all understand that the Palestinian Authority’s support and incentivization of terror are the most fundamental breaches of the agreements and international law, and they are the main roadblocks to peace. Until Palestinian children are no longer brainwashed to hate and murder Israelis, sadly, blood will still spill needlessly in our region.”  

Emphasizing that, “The one sided statement of the Security Council, that  ignores the Palestinian terrorism, the incitement and the financing of the terrorists and their families by the Palestinian Authority, is a stain on the UN – which continues to be biased and one-sided, and indirectly gives a green light to the Palestinian terror organizations,” Jerusalem’s top diplomat went on to pledge that, “Israel will continue to take every measure to protect its citizens.

Washington’s support for the statement, action the 15-member council has to agree by consensus, deeply disappointed Jerusalem. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) had refused to advance a stronger draft resolution on the matter to a vote – which could have enabled an American veto.

Citing “positive talks between the partners,” the UAE had informed its Security Council counterparts on Sunday that it would not put the draft resolution to a vote on Monday but would instead issue a unanimous statement, “given the positive talks between the parties.” Israel had been holding behind-the-scenes discussions in an attempt to prevent a slated UNSC vote on the contested issue.

The resulting UNSC statement it reiterates that “continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the Two-State Solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the 1967 lines,” said the UNSC, stressing that it “expresses deep concern and dismay with Israel’s announcement on February 12.”

In contrast, the draft resolution would have demanded Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

Resolutions need nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Russia, China, France or Britain to be adopted.

Palestinians, who want the West Bank for a future state, were enraged earlier this month when Israel’s religious-nationalist coalition government granted retroactive authorization to nine settler outposts that had been erected without government approval. The move also drew condemnation from Western powers and Israel’s Arab partners, who deem all the settlements illegal.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the Security Council that Washington opposed the settlement plans.

“These unilateral measures exacerbate tensions. They harm trust between the parties. They undermine the prospects for a negotiated two state solution. The United States does not support these actions full stop,” she said, going on to describe the Council’s statement as “real diplomacy at work” that shows how seriously it “takes these threats to peace.” She added that, “The United States joined other members of this Council in asking both Israelis and Palestinians to take the urgent and necessary steps to restore calm and improve the quality of life for their people.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday ahead of the UNSC vote that Jerusalem would not approve the building of new Jewish towns in the disputed territories in the near future. “Israel informed the United States that, in the coming months, it will not authorize new settlements beyond the nine already approved,” said the statement from Netanyahu’s office.

Israel has sponsored some 140 settlements in the West Bank, which it sees as a historical birthright and a security bulwark, while dismantling dozens of outposts.

The last time the US failed to support Israel at the world body was in December 2016, when then-President Barack Obama’s administration abstained on a Security Council vote – allowing passage of a resolution that demanded Israel stop building settlements.

Most world powers view as Israel building as “illegal settlements” on land it captured from Arab powers during the  1967 Six Day War. Israel’s military victory reunited a then-divided Jerusalem after conquering the eastern portion of the city and parts of the West Bank from Jordan, as well as the Golan Heights from Syria and Gaza from Egypt.

Successive Israeli governments have strongly disputed that there is no right to build in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, insisting the Jewish People have a deeply-rooted historic, religious and historic connection – as is clearly chronicled in the Bible. There are also critical security interests in the areas, and the authorized building of Jewish communities is a frequent response to Palestinian terrorist as part of their vocal aspirations to drive Jews back into exile.

Capitalizing on the anti-Israel rhetoric voiced in the chamber of the UNSC, Palestinian UN Observer Riyad Mansour called for urgent action to salvage the internationally aspired framework of establishing a Palestinian state in territories formerly occupied by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

“All the ingredients are there for us to reach a point of no return. I do not agree with those who say we have already crossed it as we do not have the luxury of fatalism – every action we take now matters. Every word we utter matters, every decision we delay matters,” he said, asserting,  “the Council today expressed yet again its clear opposition to these policies in a unified and unequivocal manner in the first presidential statement it adopts on Palestine in almost a decade.”