Fri, Feb 18, 2011 | Jerusalem Post
US Vetoes UN Resolution Condemning Israeli Settlements as Illegal
Jerusalem Post reported today that the United States vetoed a UN resolution Friday that would have condemned Israeli “illegal” settlements beyond the Green Line and demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building.
The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution in Friday’s vote, reflecting the wide support for the Palestinian-backed draft which had about 130 co-sponsors. The Council is composed of five permanent members — China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States (which used its veto) — and ten non-permanent members: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Portugal, Brazil, India, South Africa, Colombia, Lebanon, Gabon and Nigeria.
Explaining the US veto, US Ambassador Susan Rice said the overriding issue for the Obama administration was whether the resolution would lead to renewed peace negotiations.
“Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides,” she said.
Rice said that Friday’s veto should not be “misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
“We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” Rice said. “For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”
It was the 10th US veto on a Mideast issue since 2001 and the first by the Obama administration. The last US veto in the Security Council was Nov. 11, 2006 on a resolution calling for an end to Israeli military operations and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip.
The vetoed resolution would have reaffirmed “that the Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the resolution and speak about alternatives to a Security Council vote. Among the options that had been floated, American and Palestinian officials said, was the issuance of a Security Council presidential statement, which is weaker than an actual resolution. Abbas also spoke to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Rice expressed regret that the US-proposed presidential statement wasn’t accepted as an alternative.
It would have reaffirmed that the Security Council “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process.” It also would have had the council condemn “all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza” and stress the need for “calm and security” for Israelis and Palestinians.
Read full article in the Jerusalem post here.