It was the first time in eight years that the UN Security Council had passed a resolution condemning Israel’s illegal construction of settler colonies in occupied Palestine. The vote came on Friday, following an unprecedented intervention of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that had U.S. President-elect Donald Trump advising Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi to withdraw Egypt`s draft. Then New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela reintroduced the resolution finally adopted on 23 December.
The new resolution rests on the integrity of the foregoing series of Security Council resolutions since 1967, including its resolutions 242 and 338, which establish the boundaries of the internationally supported two-state solution. Significantly also, the new resolution S/RES/2334 reaffirms S/RES/465 (1980), which “Calls upon all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connexion with settlements in the occupied territories (para. 7). Resolution 2334 also “Calls upon all States…to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967” (para. 5).
However, the obligation not to recognize the illegal situation comes not only from a decision of the Security Council, but remains an obligation of all states, erga omnes. That long-standing obligation of all states—whether Members of the United Nations or not—prohibits support for, and cooperation or transaction with parties to the illegal situation in occupied Palestine. The Security Council resolution 2334 also recalls the 2004 International Court of Justice ruling on this point in connection with the Israeli wall, settlement enterprise and “associated regime.” (The General Assembly resolutions A/RES/37/123 (1980) and A/RES/39/146 (1982) provide further specificity as to the effective measures for states to take.)
The implantation of settlements and other practices of population transfer have been considered serious crimes since at least 1932, and being explicitly defined as crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (1998). Resolution 2334 condemns the Israeli practices as “inadmissible,” a “flagrant violation,” “not sustainable” and “dangerously imperilling the viability of,” and “eroding” an internationally supported two-state solution. The Council’s resolution 2334 also asserts states’ international law obligations not to recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 border lines (para. 3). However, the resolution text does not refer to the applicable international criminal law. Nor does it invoke the option of measures to be taken under the Security Council`s sanctions regime.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the adoption of a Security Council resolution that reaffirms the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 to have “no legal validity,” constitute a “flagrant violation” under international law and a “major obstacle” to a two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.
“The resolution is a significant step, demonstrating the Council’s much needed leadership and the international community’s collective efforts to reconfirm that the vision of two States is still achievable,” the UN chief’s spokesperson said in a statement.
All UN Security Council resolutions are considered enforceable. Resolution 2334 again calls for all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory to cease immediately, and recalls Israel’s Security Council-affirmed obligation to dismantle all settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
The United States has traditionally provided diplomatic cover to Israel by protecting it from condemnatory Security Council resolutions with its veto. However, that permanent member abstained from the vote on resolution 2334.
Israeli PM Netanyahu already has stated that he and the State of Israel would not abide by the resolution 2334. In the aftermath of the vote, Israel recalled its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal. Israel has no diplomatic ties with Malaysia and Venezuela.
The Palestinian delegation welcomed the UN resolution, which was passed by 14 votes to zero, with one abstention.
President-elect Trump, who will be inaugurated on next month, tweeted after the vote: As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.
Photo: Palestinian UN envoy Riyad H. Mansour greets Spanish envoy Roman Oyarzun Marchesi, president of the Security Council for December, ahead of the 23 December 2016 vote on Israeli settlements. Source: Manuel Elias/AFP.