(CNSNews.com) – The Palestinian Authority is seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel over new settlement expansion plans – a response to recent terror attacks – at a time when Israel is under fire from the U.S. and other allies over the move.
The U.S. has almost always vetoed previous Security Council resolutions targeting its closest Mideast ally. But the Israeli cabinet’s decision this week directly challenges the Biden administration’s recent stern admonitions to Israel, not to take steps which it says harm prospects for a “two-state solution” to the dispute.
The decision approves the building of thousands of new homes in Jewish communities located in the disputed territories, and grants authorization for nine outposts in those areas which have existed for years, but up to now have been deemed illegal by Israeli authorities.
It came in response to a surge of Palestinian terrorism, and after a Palestinian drove a car into Israelis at a busy Jerusalem bus stop on Friday.
That attack, which killed two brothers aged eight and six and a 20-year old man, came two weeks after a Palestinian killed seven people near a Jerusalem synagogue. Both attacks were celebrated on the streets in some Palestinian areas.
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas told an Arab League meeting in Cairo at the weekend that the P.A. would in the coming days demand a U.N. resolution “confirming the protection of the two-state solution by granting the State of Palestine full membership in the United Nations.”
Such a move would likely not win the approval of the U.S., which for years has opposed attempts by the Palestinians to obtain U.N. membership outside of a negotiated political resolution to the conflict.
Instead, the P.A. is now seeking a narrower Security Council resolution condemning the settlement announcement. The timing is unclear, although a regular meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is scheduled for Monday.
P.A. ambassador Riyad Mansour, in a letter to council members, accused Israel of “attempting to impose a fait accompli in occupied Palestine, through increasing illegal measures of colonization, annexation and collective punishment.”
Israeli ambassador Gilad Erdan has also written to council members, drawing attention to the recent attacks, which he called “a direct consequence of the ongoing poisonous incitement spewed by the Palestinian Authority and other terrorist organizations that are driven by hatred.”
He called on the international community to condemn the attacks unequivocally and “insist on an end to Palestinian terror and to the incitement and hate speech.”
To pass, a Security Council resolution must be approved by nine of the 15 members, and not be vetoed by any of the five permanent members – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China.
The U.S. has a long track record of vetoing anti-Israel resolutions, but the State Department has firmly condemned the Israeli cabinet decision.
“Like previous administrations, we strongly oppose these unilateral measures, which exacerbate tensions, harm trust between the parties, and undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution,” spokesman Ned Price said on Monday.
He recalled that Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to the region last month had made clear that both Israelis and Palestinians “should refrain from actions that heighten tensions and take us further away from peace. Israel’s decision on settlements and outposts runs directly contrary to those objectives.”
On Tuesday, Price reiterated that stance, telling reporters the message being aired publicly was the same message being conveyed “in all of our private conversations” with the Israelis.
“There is no question in the minds of our Israeli interlocutors, I would imagine, about where America stands.”
Also on Tuesday, Blinken joined his British, French, German, and Italian counterparts in a joint statement condemning the settlement housing announcement.
The Axios news site reports that the U.S. is pressing the Palestinians to settle for a Security Council presidential statement, rather than a resolution that the council would have to vote on.
“Presidential statements” are adopted by consensus, although members may abstain. Any one of the council’s 15 members can block a statement, but Axios reported that the U.S. informed the P.A. that it would support a statement in this instance. It also said the P.A. has rejected the proposal so far.
‘Wave after wave of bias’
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) welcomed Blinken’s opposition to the Israeli move, but called on the administration to take “concrete action.”
“As a start, the Biden administration should allow the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution condemning these escalating crimes against the Palestinian people,” said deputy director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. CAIR describes itself as the nation’s biggest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.
Although U.S. administrations have consistently vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning Israel, the Obama administration in its final weeks broke with the pattern, controversially abstaining rather than voting to kill a measure that is now cited frequently by Israel’s foes in the world body.
Adopted in December 2016, resolution 2334 was significant because it described areas disputed between Israelis and Palestinians, including the location of the holiest site in Judaism, as “occupied Palestinian territory.”
It also stated that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”
Nikki Haley, when serving as the Trump administration’s ambassador to the U.N. the following year, said resolution 2334 had given fuel to the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign by laying the groundwork for a U.N. database of companies operating in Jewish communities in the disputed territories.
Haley implicitly criticized the Obama administration for not vetoing the measure.
“For decades, Israel has withstood wave after wave of bias in the U.N. and its agencies,” she said. “The United States has often stood beside Israel. We did not on December 23, 2016.”
“We will not make that mistake again.”
Haley made the comments in a statement to the Security Council, shortly before vetoing a draft resolution that sought to overturn President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
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