The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution condemning Israeli settlement building in the Palestinian Territories today, December 23, 2016.
Sponsored by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Senegal, the resolution passed the 15-seat security council with 14 States voting in favor.
The United States, a veto-wielding member of the Council, customarily vetoes any binding resolutions critical of Israel. In this round of voting, the superpower and close ally of Israel abstained, allowing this resolution to be adopted.
The resolution demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” and said the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” Reuters
UN Security Council resolutions, unlike their Generally Assembly counterparts, are considered binding if passed with 8 votes and no vetoes from the P5 (Permanent 5) powers; the United States, France, United Kingdom, China, and Russia. The President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter with a cryptic message suggesting that under his administration America will continue to play a more traditional role of shielding Israel from the perceived bias of the UN body. Not unexpectantly, Israel condemned the adoption of the resolution.
The last speaker before the close of the Council meeting was the speaker from the Palestinian territories. In his closing remarks, the speaker thanked the UN for its decision to condemn settlement building. He went on to express his hope that the adoption of the resolution will renew efforts aimed at negotiating a two-state solution to the 70-year conflict.
The last major initiative for a two-state solution occurred nearly two decades ago. The Camp David Accords was presided over by Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak, and Bill Clinton and was the culmination of the Palestine peace process in the 1990s.