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UN Urges Israeli-Palestinian Calm, Return to Talks

  • Margaret Besheer

FILE - United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, speaks during a press conference in Gaza City, Feb. 17, 2016.

The U.N.'s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process warned Tuesday that Israeli-Palestinian tensions have been heightened in the aftermath of a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

“All stakeholders must avoid any unilateral action that would prejudge a negotiated final status solution,” Nickolay Mladenov told council members via a video link from Jerusalem.

In the past week alone, four Israeli soldiers were killed in a Palestinian truck-ramming attack, while on Monday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian during clashes near Bethlehem.

The council adopted resolution 2334 on December 23, 2016. The United States, which in the past has blocked similar resolutions to protect its ally, Israel, abstained from the vote, allowing the measure to go through.

Israel expressed its anger at the outgoing Obama administration for allowing its adoption and announced it would limit diplomatic and business cooperation with countries on the Security Council that voted in favor of the resolution, including cutting several million dollars in foreign aid to council member Senegal.

Israel was further angered by a French-sponsored conference Sunday in Paris intended to reaffirm the international community's position that a two-state solution is the only answer to the decades-old conflict and urge the two parties to return to the negotiating table. Israel did not attend the conference.

“Over 70 nations met in the City of Lights without our presence to discuss how we should make peace,” Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon told the council. “What arrogance!”

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses a U.N. Security Council meeting on the Middle East at U.N. headquarters in New York, Jan. 26, 2016.
Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses a U.N. Security Council meeting on the Middle East at U.N. headquarters in New York, Jan. 26, 2016.

Israeli retaliation

He said that in the aftermath of resolution 2334 Israel has decided that “enough is enough” and is reassessing its relationship with several U.N. organizations. “Our first step is to suspend more than $6 million from our annual contributions to the U.N. for 2017.” Danon said that money represents the portion of the U.N. budget allocated to “anti-Israel bodies” within the U.N. system.

Despite the United States' strong and continued support for the State of Israel, including a 10-year, $38-billion package of military aid for the country signed in September, President Barak Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have had an often fraught relationship. Israel's envoy did not attempt to conceal his government's relief that president-elect Donald Trump, who has expressed strong public support of Israel and anger at its treatment at the United Nations, is about to take office.

“With this new administration comes the hope the United States will return to its policy of rejecting unfair and biased Security Council resolutions and promoting direct and genuine dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians,” Danon said.

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour addresses a U.N. Security Council meeting on the Middle East at U.N. headquarters in New York, Jan. 26, 2016.
Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour addresses a U.N. Security Council meeting on the Middle East at U.N. headquarters in New York, Jan. 26, 2016.

Palestinians expect results

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour called resolution 2334 a “turning point” and wagging his finger at the 15 council members said, “Follow up must begin immediately and all must uphold their obligations, including each and every one of you members of the Security Council, it is your resolution; it is your duty to see that it is completely implemented.”

Mansour said the resolution, which also demands Israel "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem," could provide “the way back from the brink” that the two sides need.

“The international community must act now to revive the possibility of peace,” Mansour said.

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