This week, the US refused to use its veto power in the UN Security Council to block a resolution that condemned the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. Under President Obama, the US has held a policy against Israeli settlements in the West Bank, however, the US had vetoed every resolution relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the UN Security Council until now. The settlements Israel has built inside Palestinian territory are considered illegal by most of the international community. Most countries are also vehemently opposed to the Israeli militaries actions in Palestinian territory which they allege amounts to a violation of the Palestinian people’s rights and a military occupation. Most countries do recognize Israel but also recognize a Palestinian state.
Most nations maintain that the best solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is a two-state solution, one where an Israeli state exists side by side with an independent Palestinian state. Many say that Israeli settlement communities in occupied territory make the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian state impossible, thus hindering the peace process. Supporters of Israeli settlements and military activity in the Palestinian territories claim that the land belongs to Israel and that the military presence in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza are essential to Israeli security nad that settlements are built on land legally obtained from Palestinians, something most Palestinians deny.
After the UN vote passed the resolution banning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resolution “shameful”. He stated that he was ready to begin working with President-Elect Trump and was done working with President Obama. Netanyahu also stated that Israel would not abide by the terms of the UN resolution. Trump stated that the vote was “anti-Israel” and “an impediment to peace”. Some US senators went even further in condemning the resolution. Senator Lyndsey Graham stated that the US should pull out of the UN.
While Israeli leaders and conservative American policymakers stated disapproval for the UN resolution, Palestinian leaders had a very different reaction. Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas stated that this resolution “laid the groundwork” for the upcoming peace talks in Paris, a last ditch effort by President Obama and several European leaders to progress towards a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
With the incoming administration in the US, the future of American involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace process is in question. Will our stance stay similar to as it is now? Or will the US’s involvement change?