The UNSC passed a formal statement on Monday, condemning Israel’s plan to expand settlement
SECURITY COUNCIL’S STATEMENT
The UN Security Council passed a formal statement on Monday, condemning Israel’s plan to expand settlements on the occupied West Bank in Jerusalem. The council said, “continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution based on 1967 lines”. The presidential statement comes after high-stakes negotiations by the Biden administration succeeded in stopping a legally binding resolution that would have demanded Israel to “immediately and completely stop all settlement activities in the occupied territory”.
Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, has been a major point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has continued to build settlements, further exacerbating tensions between the two sides. On 12th February 2023, Israel announced that it would construct 10,000 new housing units and legalise nine new outposts in the West Bank. International law explicitly prohibits occupying powers from transferring their civilian population to the occupied territory. Some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
The Palestine-backed draft resolution was subject to talks by Biden administration officials with Palestine, Israel and United Arab Emirates leaders. The discussions culminated in a deal that puts a 6-month freeze on any unilateral action by Israel or Palestine on the settlement issue. On the Israeli side, it would mean a commitment to not expand any settlement until August this year. On the Palestinian side, it would mean not pursuing any new course of action against Israel at the UN or other international bodies until at least August. The deal averted a potential political crisis, as the US would have almost certainly vetoed the resolution to protect its long-term ally, Israel.
The presidential statement, supported by the US, however, angered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His office issued a scathing statement saying that the Security Council’s statement negated the rights of Jews to live in their historical homeland and ignored Palestinian-backed terrorist attacks in Jerusalem.
In contrast, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, Riyad Mansour, welcomed the presidential statement and said that it sent a “strong, united message from the Security Council against the illegal, unilateral measure”.
The Israel-Palestine conflict has been a contentious issue for decades, with both sides claiming rights to the same land and enduring long periods of violence and unrest. The issue at the heart of the conflict is the land itself. Both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples lay claim to the same territory, specifically the region of land that lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The land has been a source of contention since the early 20th century, when the Zionist movement began to push for a Jewish homeland in the region, then under Ottoman rule.
After World War I, the region came under British control through a mandate from the League of Nations, and in 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution to partition the land into two separate states, one for the Jewish people and one for the Palestinian people. The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arabs rejected it, and fighting broke out. In 1948, Israel declared its independence, leading to the first Arab-Israeli War, which resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
The issues are complex and multifaceted, including religious, cultural, and political factors. Some of the key issues are the status of Jerusalem, the borders of Israel and Palestine, the rights of Palestinian refugees, and the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has established settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are considered illegal under international law. The Israeli government has argued that the settlements are necessary for security and strategic purposes, while Palestinians argue that they are an obstacle to peace and a violation of their rights.
Another issue is the ongoing violence and conflict. Both Israelis and Palestinians have suffered from violence and terrorism, with innocent civilians on both sides losing their lives. The conflict has fueled hatred and mistrust between the two communities, making it difficult to find a solution.
The issue of Israel’s settlement expansion in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, is a complex and contentious topic that will require difficult negotiations and compromises from both sides to be resolved. Any attempts to address the issue will need to take into account the historical and political context of the conflict and will require a commitment from both sides to work towards a peaceful resolution.