The full text of resolution 2334 (2016) can be read here.
Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man writes: 1. This is far from the first UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, declaring that they are illegal, and calling on Israel to fulfill its obligations under international law vis-à-vis the occupied territories. With the exception of a few new references — to the French peace conference, for example — there is little new in the resolution. It does not introduce any new demands or interpretations of international law.
2. The key here is timing. This resolution came about because the Israeli government has become intransigent — it no longer even pretends to care about what the world thinks of its polices in the West Bank. The government is advancing a law to retroactively legalize the theft of Palestinian land. Senior ministers are declaring the end to the two-state era. Annexation of certain Israeli settlements is being seriously discussed. This was the Obama administration’s — and the international community’s — way of saying that it still cares. That despite far more pressing issues on the international agenda, the world’s position on Israel/Palestine remain steadfast.
3. In response to the threat of European (and American) pressure over settlements and Israeli policy in the West Bank, Israeli leaders have in recent years suggested that Israel does not need Europe — that it can build alternative partnerships and alliances with non-Western countries like Russia, China, India, and certain African states. This vote shows that although Israel might be able to find and develop common economic — and even strategic — interests with those countries, doing so will not make them look the other way when it comes to Israel’s settlement activities. The world’s position on Israeli settlements remains a consensus position — they are illegal and illegitimate. [Continue reading…]
Barak Ravid writes: The resolution adopted by the Security Council will have no practical ramifications for Israel. The resolution doesn’t include any coercive measures or define sanctions for those who violate it, except for a mechanism by which the United Nations’ secretary general will submit a report on the state of settlement construction to the Security Council every three months. The reason for this is that the resolution was adopted under the United Nations Charter’s Chapter 6, and thus is non-binding and only constitutes a show of intent and a recommendation. The resolution is a form of diplomatic message to Israel and sets the international consensus on the settlements and further isolates Israel with regard to this issue. In order for this resolution to become binding and to allow for coercion or the imposition of sanctions by the international community it would have to be adopted under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter.
In the long-term, what are the possible ramifications?
In the medium-to-long-term the resolution may have serious ramifications for Israel in general and specifically for the settlement enterprise. The reason for this stems from the two main clauses of the resolution. The first clause states that the settlements have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” The International Criminal Court in The Hague is currently conducting a preliminary investigation concerning a suit filed against Israel by the Palestinians. One of the issues raised in the suit is the construction of settlements. International law takes form through different measures including Security Council resolutions. Thus, this decision, at this time, could influence the preliminary investigation and could provide cause for the ICC prosecutor to order a full investigation of Israel settlement construction.
Another clause in the resolution calls on the nations of the world “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” This is a precedent in UNSC resolutions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and actually calls on countries to cut ties direct and indirect with the settlements. This clause may create a path for countries, international organizations such as the EU, and corporations to impose sanctions on the settlements. The Foreign Ministry’s assessment is that the EU would have to pass a similar resolution in its institutions and base practical steps and legislation from it. [Continue reading…]