UN Security Council takes historic vote on settlements
On Friday December 23rd, the UN Security Council voted by fourteen votes to nil for a motion that condemns settlements as “a flagrant violation of international law” and calls for an immediate and total freeze.
The United States lifted its veto to allow the motion to pass, after a desperate struggle by Israel to try and stop or delay the motion.
Netanyahu called on his new friend President-elect Donald Trump to put pressure on Egypt’s President Sisi. Undoubtably threatened with the reduction or removal US military aid to Egypt, Sisi indicated he would postpone the motion until the New Year.
But Netanyahu had underestimated the Palestinian delegation’s persuasion skills, and also perhaps the mood at the UN Security Council, which seemed to be decidedly in favour of calling Israel to account for its expansion of settlements this year and flagrant disregard for international law.
Following the postponement by Egypt, four other Security Council members were happy to pick up the motion – New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal, and it was put back on the agenda for Friday’s meeting.
In a bid to postpone or cancel it once again, Netanyahu resorted to threats of sanctions, recalling ambassadors, and even according to one source, declared to New Zealand’s foreign minister that he would consider the vote ‘an act of war’!
Fortunately the bullying did not succeed, and the vote went ahead and passed as the United States lifted its veto, abstaining in the vote.
There has been much analysis since the vote on its significance (or not) to the peace process and conflict. Here are a few interesting reads: