Security Council vote on Israeli settlements praised

Resolution urging end to activities in occupied territory lauded by Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran among others.

Much of the Middle East has welcomed a UN resolution that calls on Israel to end settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Fourteen UN Security Council members voted for the Egypt-drafted resolution on Friday. The US abstained, defying calls from Israel and Donald Trump, the US president-elect , to block the text.

The resolution demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” and said the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”.

Jordan, one of the few Arab states with diplomatic ties to Israel, on Saturday, welcomed the “historic” resolution, saying the vote paved a way for a two-state solution.

“This historic decision expresses the consensus of the international community on the illegality of Israeli settlements and reaffirms the Palestinian people’s historic right [to live] in Jerusalem and its historic lands,” Mohammad al-Momani, Jordan’s information minister, said Saturday.

An estimated 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank and a further 200,000 Israelis live in occupied East Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.

Israel, for decades, has pursued a policy of constructing Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian territory captured by Israel in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbours including the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Most countries view Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees and has been on the defensive since the vote.

The UN resolution states that settlements are “dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution”.

Saeb Erekat, the c hief Palestinian negotiator, lauded the result as a “victory for the justice of the Palestinian cause”.

He said Trump, who will take office in January, was now faced with a choice between “international legitimacy” or siding with “settlers and extremists”.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, urged the Security Council to “stand firm by this decision” and “not be cowed by negative threats or spin” after Israel said it would refuse to recognise the resolution.

In addition to calling it “shameful”, Israel has recalled its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal for their role in the passing of the resolution.

‘Justice is possible’

Xavier Abu Eid, a senior adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, told Al Jazeera the resolution was a “message that justice is possible”.

“Now, what we have to do is translate this resolution into concrete action,” he said.

Mushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas politician from the Gaza Strip, said the Palestinian group believes that the resolution clearly underscores the world’s rejection of Israeli policy. 

“Hamas welcomes the vote in favour of the resolution and welcomes the positive changes in the international positions that support the Palestinian rights at the international agencies,” Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in an emailed press statement.

For his part, Dawood Shihab, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesman in Gaza, said in an emailed statement that the overwhelming vote in favour of the resolution “is a clear condemnation of the [Israeli] occupation policies and its aggression against the Palestinian people. It is a Palestinian victory”.

Echoing others, an official at Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said that the kingdom hopes the resolution “will contribute to reviving the peace process in the region … which will result in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, also welcomed the adoption of the resolution, and called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Bahram Qasemi, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, said Iran welcomed “any move” which guaranteed the “true demands” of Palestinians.

“As far as we are concerned, the resolution of the Palestinian issue requires serious and decisive measures by the international community to fulfil the rights of the innocent Palestinian people and to fight the Zionist regime’s expansionist policies,” he said, referring to Israel.

The UN resolution formally enshrines the international community’s disapproval of Israeli settlement-building and could spur further Palestinian moves against Israel in international forums.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies