Trump intervention fails to block UN resolution demanding Israel cease constructing settlements in Palestine

The Washington Post reports: The U.N. Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding Israel cease Jewish settlement activity on Palestinian territory in a unanimous vote that passed with the United States abstaining rather than using its veto as it has reliably done in the past.

The resolution said settlements are threatening the viability of the two-state solution, and urged Israelis and Palestinians to return to negotiations that lead to two independent nations.

This marked the first time in more than 36 years that the Security Council passed a resolution critical of settlements. [Continue reading…]

The Wall Street Journal reports: The vote was approved with 14 members voting in favor, with the U.S. abstaining. It was followed by a loud, lengthy applause.

The vote comes amid international political jostling and takes place a day after Egypt withdrew its draft of the resolution following pressure from Israel and President-elect Donald Trump.

The Obama administration has used its veto powers on the Council only once, in 2011, to block a similar resolution on Israeli settlements, while the U.S. had vetoed more than 40 resolutions critical of Israel up until 2011.

In 2009 the U.S. under the George W. Bush administration abstained from a vote on an Israel-Palestine resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, but said it agreed with the overall objectives of that measure.

The resolution on Friday is co-sponsored by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, in reaction to the abrupt canceling of the vote on Thursday, which diplomats said infuriated U.S. and European diplomats because it was viewed as interference in foreign policy by Mr. Trump.

Diplomats at the U.N. had said for months that they hoped to pass a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office, because of perception that Mr. Trump’s administration would block any action that criticized Israel. [Continue reading…]

In an interview on the PBS Newshour, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes explained the administration’s abstention at the UN by saying that this was a “resolution entirely consistent with our policy.”

Since that’s the case, why did the U.S. not join all other members of the UN Security Council by voting in favor?

There’s some irony in the symbolism here: When President Obama took his final stand on Middle East politics, it was to abstain.

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