News / Middle East

UN Security Council Divided Over Israeli Settlements

European powers on the U.N. Security Council led condemnations on Tuesday against expanded Israeli settlement building and attacks by settlers on Palestinians.  Their calls were echoed by nearly every other council member, except the United States, amplifying the division among members of the U.N.’s most powerful body on the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  From the United Nations,

In February, the United States was the only Security Council member to oppose a resolution condemning the building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, blocking the measure with its veto.  On Tuesday, the U.S. was virtually the only council member to remain silent after a senior U.N. official warned the council that settler violence and settlement construction have been on the rise and are hurting the chance of a Mideast peace.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who heads the council this month, told reporters that no consensus statement was possible from the 15-member council because of the objections of one delegation. “Because there is one delegation which would not want to hear anything about it, any kind of a statement, which believes that somehow things will sort of settle themselves somehow miraculously out of their own,” Churkin said.

Churkin suggested that perhaps Israel occasionally needs prodding from the Security Council to act, and he noted that the stream of statements from ambassadors representing regional groups on the Security Council was a new development.

The Europeans led the call for Israel’s government to cease construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.  Britain, France, Portugal and Germany also condemned the “disturbing escalation of violence by settlers,” including the burning of mosques.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who read the European statement, said the package of measures announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to settler violence goes in the right direction and that they anticipate its implementation.

India, Brazil and South Africa echoed the European concerns as did ambassadors speaking on behalf of the group of more than 120 states known as the Non-Aligned Movement.

Lebanon’s Ambassador Nawaf Salam spoke in his capacity as the Chairman of the Arab group.

“We are profoundly disappointed, frustrated by the inaction of the Security Council on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.  However you look at it - whether at settlement activity, the demolition of houses, the evictions - you have clear violations of international law, international humanitarian law, human rights law, the Charter of the United Nations, Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions, opinion of the International Court of Justice,” Salam said.

Salam said the Security Council should live up to its responsibilities and condemn these activities.

The United States has not declared Israeli settlement building illegal, but it calls it "illegitimate."  Washington opposes efforts to legalize settlement outposts, which it considers unhelpful to the peace process.

Israel’s ambassador did not speak to reporters after the meeting.  But in a statement, his spokeswoman criticized the council for focusing on Israeli settlements when it should, in her opinion, be vocal on events in Syria, Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons and the activities of Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down 15 months ago over the issue of Israel’s settlement building.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs