United Nations force Israel to stop settlement policy

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A United Nations Security Council resolution, condemning the construction of Israeli settlements in the Palestine Occupied Territories as having “no legal validity”, has passed 14-0, after the US abstained. It demands that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory”.

The Obama administration’s choice not to veto the measure is a strong rebuff of Israeli policy and traditional US-Israeli diplomacy: the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said “one cannot champion settlements and the two-state solution”.

The resolution came after an extraordinary personal intervention by president-elect Donald Trump to steer the draft measure away from a vote (originally sponsored by Egypt) – both Trump and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and the vote was postponed. But other countries on the Security Council – New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal – put the resolution up for a vote anyway.

The Trump administration has strongly indicated that it will take a very different line on Israel.