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What UN resolution means for US and Israel

  • Published at 04:57 pm December 27th, 2016
What UN resolution means for US and Israel
The United Nations Security Council on Friday passed a resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The United States abstained on the resolution, allowing it to pass, rather than vetoing it – as it usually does with resolutions it sees as overly critical of Israel. Here are some key questions about the vote at the UN-

What are the immediate effects of the UN resolution?

The resolution may have no immediate practical effects on Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the peace process. That’s because the resolution is non-binding, effectively creating guidelines and recommendations. Israel is concerned about exactly that type of action. Specifically, Israel is worried about a resolution that would set conditions for negotiations. Such a resolution would issue parameters for some of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including borders, the status of Jerusalem as a contested capital, Palestinian refugees, and a time-limit for negotiations.

What are the long-term effects?

The biggest blow is to Israel’s settlement enterprise in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This resolution has left little room for negotiation about the legality of the settlements, stating that Israel’s settlements have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” When it comes to borders, the resolution does leave an opening for negotiations, saying there will be no changes to the June 4, 1967 “other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.”

Will Donald Trump be able to repeal the resolution?

Theoretically, yes, the incoming administration could repeal this resolution. Trump would have to introduce a new resolution that revokes this one entirely. Then he would need at least nine countries to vote for it and ensure that none of the Security Council’s other permanent members – Russia, UK, France, and China – vetoed it. Realistically, that is incredibly unlikely to happen.

Will the US and Israel take diplomatic action against the UN?

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has threatened to cut US money to the United Nations over this resolution. The US currently provides 22% of the UN’s budget. Israel has already cut funding to five different UN organisations, totaling nearly $8m, Netanyahu announced. Netanyahu said Israel would reevaluate its relationships with UN representatives in Israel.

Is this the first time an American president has taken action?

No. In fact, it’s not all that uncommon. In 1988, Ronald Reagan began dialogue with the PLO before the end of his second term. In 2000, Bill Clinton laid out his vision for peace, now known as the “Clinton Parameters.” And in 2008, George W Bush’s envoy voted in favour of Security Council resolution 1850, which called for a renewal of the peace process.  
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