The United States on Friday allowed the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building, defying heavy pressure from long-time ally Israel and President-elect Donald Trump for Washington to wield its veto.
A US abstention paved the way for the 15-member council to approve the resolution, with 14 votes in favour, prompting applause in the council chamber. The action by President Barack Obama’s administration follows growing US frustration over the unrelenting construction of Jewish settlements on land Palestinians want for a future independent state.
The US action just weeks before Obama ends eight years as president broke with the long-standing American approach of shielding Israel, which receives more than $3bn in annual US military aid, from such action. The United States, Russia, France, Britain and China have veto power on the council.
The resolution, put forward by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and Trump, was the first adopted by the council on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.
The US abstention was seen as a parting shot by Obama, who has had an acrimonious relationship with Netanyahu and whose efforts to forge a peace agreement based on a “two-state” solution of creating a Palestinian state existing peacefully alongside Israel have proven futile.
Trump wrote on Twitter after the vote, “As to the UN, things will be different after January 20th.”
Israel rejects UN vote
Israel lashed out at US President Barack Obama over a UN Security Council resolution passed Friday demanding it halt settlements in Palestinian territory, while vowing it would not abide by it.
“Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.
“The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes,” it said.
Israel also announced diplomatic retaliatory steps against Senegal and New Zealand, two of the four countries that pushed for a vote on the resolution. Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the other two, Malaysia and Venezuela.