The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement construction on occupied Palestinian territory after the United States broke with tradition and abstained from voting on the controversial measure.
The abstention by the United States paved the way for the 15-member international body to approve the resolution, with 14 votes in favor, prompting applause in the council chamber. The resolution was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and the U.S. president-elect. Israel and Trump had called on the United States to veto the measure.
“Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. and will not abide by its terms,” the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has encouraged the expansion of Jewish settlements in land captured by Israel in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbors, said in a statement.
Continued settlement building “seriously undermines Israel’s security,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said on Friday.
“The United States has been sending a message that the settlements must stop privately and publicly for nearly five decades,” she told the council after the vote.
“One cannot simultaneously champion expanding Israeli settlements and champion a viable two state solution that would end the conflict. One had to make a choice between settlements and separation,” she said.
The U.S. decision to abstain was a relatively rare step by Washington, which usually shields Israel from such action.
The U.S. abstention was seen as a parting shot by U.S. President Barack Obama, who has had an acrimonious relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and who has made settlements a major target of peace efforts that have proven ultimately futile.
Trump tweeted that “things will be different after Jan. 20th.”