News ID: 174613
Published: 0744 GMT December 27, 2016

Washington's anti-settlement approach memorable

Washington's anti-settlement approach memorable

By Fereydoun Majlesi

Two major international events have taken place in the remaining days of outgoing US President Barack Obama in office.

First of all, Egypt withdrew a draft UN resolution against Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. The withdrawal came after a phone conversation between US President-elect Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Second, the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of a new resolution which was put forward by New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela.

The 15-member Security Council voted 14-0 on the proposed measure on Friday while the US abstained, paving the way for its approval.

The resolution demands that Israel immediately "cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory”.

Washington's refusal to veto the resolution indicates that the Obama administration is supporting moves against the expansion of Israeli settlements. This is while the US has vetoed all such resolutions since 1979.

Nonetheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branded the UN resolution as
"shameful". Bibi also took retaliatory measures against the nations which threw their weight behind the resolution.

Obama's opponents in Israel and in the US Congress have accused Obama of turning his back on diplomatic precedent under which Washington has shielded Israel at the UN.

Irrespective of such reactions, it seems that Obama has taken a step which could raise hopes for alleviating the plight of Palestinians under the occupation of Israel.

Meanwhile, Trump's attempts to block the resolution have sparked a fierce controversy.

He put pressure on Egypt which had initially circulated the resolution and called on the US ambassador to veto the measure. This is while he has not taken office yet.  

Since he is a strong supporter of Israel, the policies of the next US administration may embolden Tel Aviv to expand illegal settlements.

He has clearly stated his intention to engineer a sharp shift in US policy toward Israel, aligning his administration closer to Netanyahu's right-wing Likud-led coalition.

Nonetheless, the Obama administration's refusal to veto the anti-settlement resolution will be recorded in the history.


Fereydoun Majlesi is an expert on international affairs.



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