Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United States to veto a UN Security Council resolution that demands an immediate halt to Israeli settlement building.
“The US should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council on Thursday,” Netanyahu wrote in a tweet posted early Thursday.
The Security Council is slated to vote on Thursday on the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which declares that all existing settlements “have no legal validity” and are “a flagrant violation” of international law, and demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
It stresses that “the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-state solution” as these activities are “dangerously imperiling” the viability of any future Palestinian state in the West Bank.
And it “calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground.”
A similar resolution was vetoed by the United States in 2011.
The measure also calls for “immediate steps” to prevent acts of violence against civilians, but does not specifically demand that the Palestinians stop incitement to terror, as demanded by Israel.
UN diplomats have for weeks speculated as to whether the administration of US President Barack Obama would decide to refrain from using its veto to block a draft resolution condemning Israel.
The Obama administration has expressed longstanding frustration over Israeli settlement policy, but some US officials have said in recent weeks that Obama is wary of implementing dramatic policy changes, such as a move against Israel at the UN, that would likely be opposed or reversed by the incoming Trump administration.
Egypt circulated the draft late Wednesday and a vote was scheduled for 3 p.m. (10 p.m. Israel time) on Thursday.
The United Nations and most of the international community maintain that settlements are illegal. The UN has repeatedly called on Israel to halt them, but UN officials have claimed construction has surged in recent months. The US considers them illegitimate and an impediment to peace.
Israel’s envoy to the world body, Danny Danon, lashed the resolution late Wednesday, calling it “the epitome of absurdity and UN hypocrisy.”
“A resolution like this won’t advance any [peace] process, but will only serve as a prize by the UN for the Palestinian policy of incitement and terror.
“It’s strange that while thousands are massacred in Syria, the Security Council is devoting time to debating censuring the only democracy in the Middle East. In recent months, we’ve been working with Security Council member states and using all the means at our disposal to prevent the passage of this resolution.”
Referring to the US, Danon echoed Netanyahu: “We expect our greatest friend not to let such a one-sided and anti-Israel resolution pass.”
Israeli settlements are seen by much of the international community as a stumbling block to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians want for their future state.
Netanyahu maintains that they are not an obstacle to peace, and that their status could be resolved in a peace accord with the Palestinians, but that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He argues that their failure to do so is the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
By contrast, outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this month called the settlements a “barrier” to peace. Settlements, Kerry said at the Saban Forum, “are not the cause of this conflict. But…if you have a whole bunch of people who are strategically locating outposts and settlements in an area so that there will not be a contiguous Palestinian state, they are doing it to be an obstacle to peace.” Kerry said that he was certain that settlement construction was intended to serve as just such an obstacle. “I cannot accept the notion that [settlements] don’t affect the peace process, that they aren’t a barrier to the ability to create peace,” Kerry argued.
In that address, the secretary refrained from committing to veto any UN resolution intended to establish a Palestinian state, only promising a veto “if it is a biased, unfair resolution calculated to delegitimize Israel.”