The Security Council reaffirmed this afternoon that Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders.
Adopting resolution 2334 (2016) by 14 votes, with the United States abstaining, the Council reiterated its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. It underlined that it would not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the two sides through negotiations.
The Council called for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction. It further called for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism. The Council called on both sides to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground and rebuild trust and confidence.
Also by the text, the Council called on all parties to continue to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final-status issues in the Middle East peace process, and within the time frame specified by the Middle East Quartet (European Union, Russian Federation, United Nations, United States) in its statement of 21 September 2010. It called upon all States to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.
Explaining her delegation’s abstention, the representative of the United States said it had been a long-standing position of her country that settlements undermined Israel’s security and eroded prospects for peace and stability. She emphasized, however, that her vote today had not been straightforward. Explaining that Israel had been treated differently from other States for as long as it had been a member of the United Nations, she noted that during the course of 2016, 18 resolutions adopted in the General Assembly and others in the Human Rights Council had all condemned Israel. It was because of that bias that the United States had not voted in favour of the resolution, she said, emphasizing that her delegation would not have let the resolution pass had it not addressed terrorism and incitement to violence.
Malaysia’s representative said effective Council action must be taken without further delay to reverse dangerous trends on the ground that were threatening any possibility of a two-State solution. Settlement activity constituted the single biggest threat to peace, and had led to settler violence, home demolitions and denial of development. Decades of human rights violations had frustrated those with nothing to lose, leading to acts of violence, she said, adding that the resolution could give hope to the people of Palestine and Israel, the majority of whom still wanted peace and a two-State solution.
Israel’s representative said those who had voted “yes” to the resolution had voted “no” to negotiations, to progress and to a chance for better lives for both Israelis and Palestinians, and to the possibility of peace. The resolution would continue to provide excuses for the Palestinians to avoid recognizing Israel’s right to exist, he said, adding that the Council had voted to condemn the State of Israel and the Jewish people for building homes in the land of Israel, and to deny “our eternal rights” in Jerusalem. “We will continue to be a democratic State based on the rule of law and full civil and human rights for all our citizens,” he declared. “And we will continue to be a Jewish State proudly reclaiming the land of our forefathers.”
The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine said the Council’s action, while long-overdue, was timely, necessary and important. The resolution required vigilant follow-up if it was to be meaningful and salvage a two-State solution from relegation to history’s archives. Israel’s illegal settlements and its wall had undermined the contiguity of Palestinian land and isolated East Jerusalem. To claims of bias, he said the only bias was against law, reason and the vision of two States as the most viable solution.
Egypt’s representative said the text expressed the painful reality of illegitimate settlements and confiscation of Palestinian land. Noting that his delegation had been compelled to withdraw its own draft resolution, he emphasized that it was unacceptable for some Council members to have warned Egypt, recalling that his country had been the first to make peace with Israel.
Also this afternoon, Council President Román Oyarzun Marchesi (Spain) expressed appreciation for the contributions of Council members whose term would expire at the end of 2016 — Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela.
Also speaking today were representatives of New Zealand, Venezuela, France, China, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Russian Federation, Japan, Angola and Senegal.