The UN statement was reportedly downgraded from a legally binding resolution due to pressure by US officials
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has issued a statement denouncing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, deeming them a major obstacle to peace in the region. While a separate resolution would have called for an immediate end to all settlement activity, it was successfully thwarted by American negotiators, according to multiple outlets.
The Security Council expressed “deep concern and dismay” over the further expansion of settlement outposts on Monday, citing recently announced plans by the Israeli government to legally authorize nine existing settlements in the West Bank.
The UNSC “strongly opposes all unilateral measures that impede peace,” including the “construction and expansion of settlements, confiscation of Palestinians’ land, the ‘legalization’ of settlement outposts, demolition of Palestinians homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians,” it said, adding that ongoing settlement activity is “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution.”
The ‘two-state solution’ is among several blueprints proposed to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict over the decades, envisioning an independent state of Palestine based on the territory’s borders as they existed before the Six Day War of 1967, after which Israeli forces occupied both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
While Israel’s troops withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the military continues to occupy the West Bank, often providing security for Israeli settlers building homes and communities on Palestinian land.
A long line of humanitarian orgs, as well as the UN itself, have repeatedly denounced the settlements as violations of international law – namely Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions, which states that “occupying powers” must not “deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
However, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis now living in the West Bank, the government has insisted on their right to remain in the area, creating major complications for any future two-state solution.
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The United States has consistently supported Israel amid criticism of the settlements and other policies toward the Palestinians, frequently using its veto power at the UN to shut down resolutions seeking to condemn or curtail Israel’s actions. Washington has similarly opposed efforts to seek accountability at other global bodies, such as the International Criminal Court.
According to the Associated Press, Monday’s UN statement was deliberately “watered down” following a pressure campaign by American diplomats, who reportedly led “high-stakes negotiations” to kill a legally binding Security Council resolution which would have required immediate action on the settlements. After heavily promoting the resolution, the Palestinian Authority ultimately “agreed to suspend its efforts” thanks to “US pressure and mediation,” Axios reported.