Hamas on Saturday welcomed a landmark UN Security Council vote demanding a halt to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with the Palestinian Islamist movement saying it marked an “important evolution.”

The UN Security Council on Friday demanded that Israel halt settlements in Palestinian territory, after the United States refrained from vetoing the resolution condemning its closest Middle East ally.

Hamas, an Islamist terror group which runs the Gaza Strip, remains deeply divided from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, which dominates the West Bank.

“Hamas appreciates the position of the countries that voted in the Security Council for the right of the Palestinian people on their land,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum.

“We salute this important evolution in international positions,” he said, while calling for more such actions to bring about “the end of the occupation.”

Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, where Hamas seized power two years later, but has occupied the West Bank for nearly 50 years.

There have been growing warnings that settlement building in the West Bank is fast eroding the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

While the Palestine Liberation Organization has recognized Israel’s right to exist, Hamas, which is not part of the PLO, calls for its destruction. It is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the European Union and the United States.

Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza have fought three wars with Israel since 2008, while the enclave has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade for around a decade.

UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, saying conditions are deteriorating in the impoverished territory of two million people.

Israel says it is needed to keep Hamas from importing weapons or materials used to make them.

Islamic Jihad, the second-largest force in Gaza, also welcomed the UN vote, with that terror group’s spokesman Daoud Shehab saying it would lead to Israel’s “isolation” and “boycott” while opening it up to prosecution under international law.