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23 Dec, 2016 22:21

UN resolution on Israeli settlements criticized by Trump, lawmakers

UN resolution on Israeli settlements criticized by Trump, lawmakers

Just an hour after the Obama administration abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution demanding Israel stop settlement construction on Palestinian territory, President-elect Trump and some US legislators responded by criticizing the vote.

“As for the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th,” Trump tweeted on Friday just an hour after the vote.

The resolution was put forward by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal to be voted on by the 15-member council on Friday, a day after Egypt withdrew under pressure from Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump. Israel and Trump called on the US to vote against the measure.

It was adopted with 14 votes in favor to a round of applause. It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and Palestinians in nearly eight years.

The resolution “reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law, and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

The resolution demands that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities.”

Senior White House officials and State Department officials held a conference call with reporters on Friday afternoon on the resolution.

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor was quick to stress “there was one president at a time.”

"There is one president at a time. Pres Obama is the POTUS until Jan 20 and we are taking this action of course as US policy."

Rhodes said the Obama administration had reached out to the president-elect on Thursday, but discussions were underway until Friday morning.

Calling it "shameful" and "reckless" US lawmakers weighed in on the UN settlement vote.

House Speaker, Paul Ryan (R, Wisconsin) said the refusal to vote was “absolutely shameful,” and “sets a dangerous precedent for further diplomatic efforts to isolate and demonize Israel.”

Senator John McCain (R, Arizona), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee called it “ill-conceived” and shameful.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina) said “Obama-Kerry foreign policy has gone from naive and foolish to flat-out reckless.”

The bipartisan American Israel Public Affairs Committee said it was “deeply disturbed” that the Obama administration didn’t veto the resolution.

“By adopting the resolution, the United Nations has once again served as an open forum to isolate and delegitimize Israel – America’s lone stable democratic ally in the Middle East,” the organization said.

Democrats also weighed in with criticism.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D, New York) called the resolution outcome “confounding.”

Senator Ron Wyden, (D, Oregon) replace a statement stating he was “deeply disappointed that the administration set aside longstanding US policy to allow such a one-sided resolution to pass.”

Wyden stated the resolution “will only take us further from the peace we all want to see.”

Wyoming congresswoman-elect, Liz Cheney, was quick to denounced the refusal to vote as the “latest shameful chapter in Obama presidency.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) backed the Obama administration's refusal to veto the unanimous UN Security Council vote as sending "a strong message that the United States still supports a two-state solution," and that "Ending settlement activity is an absolute necessity if we're ever to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians."

“I’ve watched with growing concern the increase in Israeli settlements over the years, where approximately 400,0000 individuals now live. I believe the expansion of settlements has but one goal: to undermine the viability of a two-state solution,” Feinstein added in a statement. “I’ve met with displaced Palestinian families who have been kicked off land they’ve lived on for many generations. The ill will that results from these settlements is a significant roadblock to peace, and I again call on Israel to end their expansion so that a two- state solution remains a possibility.”