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Fallout from anti-settlement UN vote

| Updated: October 25, 2017 00:29:12


Fallout from anti-settlement UN vote

President Barack Obama in the last days of his presidency has been under attack from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some members of Congress plus president-elect Donald Trump. The reason is that the US abstained from casting veto on the Security Council Resolution on December 23 that condemned Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. A draft resolution, put forward by Arab countries led by Egypt and co-sponsored by New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal, was unanimously approved by 14 votes, while the US abstained, calling for a halt to Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Although Egypt apparently withheld the draft resolution on being reportedly encouraged by the US Secretary of State, it was subsequently  placed by other countries led by New Zealand. 
The resolution is indeed a slap against the hawkish Prime Minister of Israel while the US for the first time departed from its long-standing policy of vetoing anti-Israel resolutions in the United Nations. President Obama has been frustrated as a result of Israel's dilly-dally tactics to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute on the basis of two-state formula which was in fact his foreign policy objective in his first-term presidency. The Israeli Prime Minister appears to be determined to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank and is reported to have said a peace agreement with Palestinians is impossible. 
It is not only the Obama administration but also almost all US administrations in recent past have been criticising Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian  territories. But at the same time, the US administrations have been contributing taxpayers' money to Israel for its defence and administration. The US is the highest paymaster to Israel followed by Egypt which recognised the Jewish state in Camp David agreement at the initiative of Democratic President Jimmy Carter in September of 1978. This agreement in fact obliged the US administration to contribute military and economic assistance to Israel. 
Therefore, the threat given by the Israeli Prime Minister that Israel would re-examine its ties with the United Nations appears to be meaningless. The fact of the matter is that Israel has been violating international laws as has been evident from Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949, apart from Articles 42- 56 of the Hague Regulations. Occupation is only a temporary situation, and the rights of the occupant are limited to the extent of that period. 
West Bank has come under legal regime of belligerent occupation under international laws of war which come into effect when a state captures territory from another state during war. Israel occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip during war of 1967 from Jordan and Egypt respectively. It may be recalled that belligerent law is still enforced since it was established 46 years back. On the other hand, Jerusalem has remained under international mandate with the United Nations to supervise as a corpus separatism. 
As a matter of fact, Jerusalem was under Ottoman Empire of Turkey until First World War. Jerusalem remains disputed in international arena. As a result, most of foreign embassies, including that of the US, are located at Tel Aviv but President-elect Donald Trump has promised to move American embassy to Jerusalem which is likely to create further crisis in international arena. 
The Israeli Prime Minister released his anger on 10 Israeli Ambassadors on December 25, Christmas Day, whom he reportedly reprimanded for their failure to pursue governments that supported the UNSC resolution against Israel. 
It is high time that the UN and the international community exercised pressures to dismantle all Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well and establish the State of Palestine. Israel has been pursuing a policy of reconstruction of Jewish settlements after illegally occupying Arab territories in 1967. Palestinians have shed enough blood over the last several years since illegal occupation of Palestine territories.
The writer is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh.
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