Trump vows changes at the UN after Israel vote

US president-elect reacts after UN Security Council voted in favour of calling for an end to Israeli settlements.

Israeli settlements
It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years. [Abed Al Hashlamoni/EPA]

Donald Trump has vowed to change things at the United Nations when he takes over at the White House next month, after the UN Security Council’s vote in favour of a resolution demanding the halt of settlement activity by Israel in occupied Palestinian territory.

The resolution was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and US president-elect Trump.

Israel and Trump had called on the United States to veto the measure but it ended up abstaining, resulting in the resolution being adopted with 14 votes in favour to a resounding round of applause.

It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.

“This is a day of victory for international law, a victory for civilised language and negotiation and a total rejection of extremist forces in Israel,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters news agency.

“The international community has told the people of Israel that the way to security and peace is not going to be done through occupation … but rather through peace, ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state to live side by side with the state of Israel on the 1967 line,” Erekat said.

Sharif Nashashibi, a London-based analyst of Arab political affairs, told Al Jazeera: “It’s historic in the sense that it’s been decades since the US has done that [abstained].

“But, in my opinion, it’s merely symbolic, precisely for that reason, because there are already UN Security Council resolutions in existence that call for pretty much the same thing that this resolution has done.”

He added: “These resolutions are decades old and they are just gathering dust. Israel has been allowed to flout them. My fear is that this will just be one of those resolutions that Israel can flout.

“We don’t have any mechanism to put tangible pressure on Israel to abide by this resolution, so I fear that despite the passing of this resolution, the Security Council has still proved itself largely irrelevant to this conflict.”

On Saturday, Israel refused to recognise the UN resolution and retaliated by recalling its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal.

“Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms.” said Netanyahu. 

READ MORE: UN Security Council urges end to Israeli settlements

“At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half-a-million people in Syria, it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, and calls the Western Wall ‘occupied territory’.”

New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully said the decision should have been no surprise to Israel which knew Wellington’s position long before the UN vote.

“Israel has informed us of their decision to recall their ambassador to New Zealand for consultations,” McCully told AFP news agency in a statement. 

“We have been very open about our view that the [Security Council] should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position we adopted today is totally in line with our long-established policy on the Palestinian question.

“The vote today should not come as a surprise to anyone and we look forward to continuing to engage constructively with all parties on this issue.”

The resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

Malaysia and Venezuela also sponsored the UN resolution but do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.