UN passes anti-settlement resolution, US abstains

Ben Harris

UN Security Council

The United Nations Security Council meeting at U.N. Headquarters in New York, Dec. 21, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution condemning Israeli settlements with the United States abstaining.

The resolution was adopted Friday afternoon with 14 votes in favor and one abstention.

The resolution called Israeli settlements “a flagrant violation of international law” that damage the prospects of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The adoption was greeted with sustained applause.

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Samantha Power, the American U.N. envoy, in a lengthy explanation of the American vote, said the resolution is consistent with longstanding U.S. policy opposing Israeli settlements and accurately reflects the facts on the ground.

“The United States has been sending a message that the settlements must stop privately and publicly for for decades,” Power said. “Our vote today is fully in line with the bipartisan history of how presidents have approached this issue.”

Power said the United States could not support the resolution outright because it ignores other relevant issues and because Israel is often mistreated at the United Nations. Power talked at length about the U.N.’s unfair treatment of Israel.

“The simple truth is for as long as Israel has been a member of this institution, Israel has been treated differently from other members of the United Nations,” Power said.

Power emphasized that the abstention did not reflect any change in the American commitment to Israeli security. “Our commitment to that security has never wavered and never will,” Power said.

The resolution drew differing reactions from American Jewish groups. The American Jewish Committee in a statement Friday said it was “deeply disappointed that the United States chose to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution today which singled out Israel for condemnation.”

J Street, the dovish pro-Israel lobby, welcomed the resolution. “The resolution is consistent with longstanding bipartisan American policy, which includes strong support for the two-state solution, and clear opposition to irresponsible and damaging actions, including Palestinian incitement and terror and Israeli settlement expansion and home demolitions,” J Street said.