United States vetoes security council resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal.

Author:Crook, John R.
Position:International Organizations

In February 2011, the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution declaring Israel's settlement activity to be illegal and demanding that "Israel, as the occupying power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and that it fully respect its legal obligations in this regard." (1) The vote on the resolution was 14-1. (2) According to press reports, President Obama discussed the resolution with Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, and the United States offered to support a statement by the president of the Security Council describing settlements as "illegitimate" rather than "illegal." The Palestinian side did not agree. (3)

The U.S. explanation of vote by Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, rejected the legitimacy of Israel's settlement activity. A substantial excerpt follows:

The United States has been deeply committed to pursuing a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In that context, we have been focused on taking steps that advance the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, rather than complicating it. That includes a commitment to work in good faith with all parties to underscore our opposition to continued settlements. Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. 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. The United States and our fellow Council members are also in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, based on the two-state solution and an agreement that establishes a viable, independent, and contiguous state of Palestine, once and for all. We have invested a tremendous amount of effort and resources in pursuit of this shared goal, and we will continue to do so. But the only way to reach that common...

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