US Secretary of State John Kerry strongly defends US decision to not Veto the UN resolution against Israeli construction of settlements in Palestinian land
Kerry defended the US decision by saying that if the UN resolution had been vetoed by Washington, then Israel would have ended the peace process by using the veto as a license for “unfettered settlement construction”. Kerry furthered criticized the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for creating “the most rightwing” coalition in Israeli history, which creates barriers for the implementation of a two-state solution. Kerry believes that the two-state solution is the “only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The international community believes that the two-state solution is the only deal that could make peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The idea is to have two separate states—Palestine and Israel—which would exist peacefully side by side. The territory would be divided broadly following the pre-1967 armistice line or “green line”. However, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands creates problems, since the Palestinians want the 22% of land that was drawn out for them, while Israel wants an annexation of the West Bank. Further problems regarding the two-state solution is Jerusalem, which is a holy city for Jews, Muslims and Christians. Israel is vehemently against any deal which says that the city needs to be divided between the two sides. Furthermore, Palestine wants the refugees from the 1948 war returned, which Israel has negatively responded to, while Palestine refuses to accept Israel as a “Jewish State”. Amidst all these problems, Israel’s continued construction upon Palestinian lands keeps hindering peace talks between the two sides.
Kerry’s defense regarding the US decision, was a continuation of the diplomatic-drama which has been on-going between the Obama administration and the Israeli government, following US abstention from the vote on Friday’s resolution. The Resolution called the Israeli settlements constructed in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem as “flagrant violation under international law”.
Responding to Israel’s fury and backlash regarding the US decision, Kerry has said that “It is not the resolution that is isolating Israel. It is the permanent policy of [Israeli] settlement construction that risks making peace impossible”.
Kerry further defended the Obama administration from the Israeli government’s accusations of abandonment, by pointing out the $38bn defense assistance deal that was signed by the Obama administration on behalf of Israel.
Many believe that the US decision to abstain from vetoing the UN Resolution, was in order to future-proof the two-state solution from the Trump administration, since the president-elect is a staunch supporter of Israel. The organization of another peace conference in mid-January, a couple of days before President Obama leaves office, could also be crucial in the formation of another set of Resolutions, which slow down the actions of the Trump administration.
The UN Resolution gives the EU and other peace-policing institutions the tools to keep pursuing solutions, and to keep pressuring Israel on issues of illegal constructions.