US vetoes UN resolution on Israel settlements

© AFP Abbas Momani


UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – The United States on Friday vetoed an Arab resolution at the UN Security Council which would have condemned continued Israeli settlement building, triggering immediate Palestinian anger.

US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Washington had “regrettably” chosen to oppose the resolution, sponsored by some 130 countries, after seeking its compromise measure was rejected.

“This draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides,” Rice said. “It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations.”

And she stressed Washington’s veto — the first by President Barack Obama’s administration at the United Nations — should not be taken as US support for settlement building.

“We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” she told the Council.

But she said the United Nations was not the correct place to try to resolve the decades-old Israel-Palestinian conflict, despite the stalemated Middle East peace talks.

“While we agree with our fellow council members and indeed with the wider world about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians,” she said.

The US veto killed the resolution even though the 14 other members of the 15-nation Security Council voted in favor.

In a joint statement, France, Britain and Germany reiterated “the illegality of settlements and the threat it constituted to a two-state solution.”

They urged both parties to return to direct negotiations, adding the goal “remained an agreement on final status and the welcoming of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations in September 2011.”

But in a swift reaction after the UN vote, Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said the Palestinians would have to “re-evaluate the entire process of negotiations.”

The Palestinians have accused Washington of failing to do enough to rein in Israeli settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, which they say is laying down territorial realities on land claimed by the Palestinians for their future state.

Israel meanwhile urged the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table without preconditions.

“It’s a short way between Ramallah and Jerusalem, and all the Palestinians should do is to return to the negotiating table without preconditions,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a statement.

“Only thus, and not through seizing the Security Council, will it be possible to advance the peace process so as to benefit both parties and to serve the cause of peace and security throughout the region.”

© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license

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