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Israel rebukes UN Security Council anti-settlement statement, criticizes US support

Members of the UN Security Council issued on Monday a rare joint statement, the first in nine years, condemning recent Israeli measures for West Bank settlement expansion.
A general view shows a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, at the United Nations headquarters, New York, Feb. 20, 2023.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office slammed on Monday a rare statement by the United Nations Security Council, condemning Israeli settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian Territories as “blind” and one-sided.

“[It] denies the rights of Jews to live in our historic homeland and ignores the Palestinian terrorist attacks in Jerusalem over the past month,” the Israeli leader said.

“[The Security Council statement] turns a blind eye to the fact that the Palestinian Authority subsidizes terrorism and pays the families of terrorists,” Netanyahu added. 

In a rare public criticism of Washington, the Israeli reaction said the Security Council statement “should not have been made and the United States should not have signed on to it.”

Members of the United Nations Security Council condemned Israel on Monday for a series of recent moves designed to expand the West Bank settlement enterprise, namely the legalization of nine wildcat outposts and the advancement of construction of some 10,000 new housing units in existing settlements.

“The Security Council expresses deep concern and dismay with Israel’s announcement on Feb. 12, 2023, announcing further construction and expansion of settlements and the 'legalization' of settlement outposts,” read the statement. “The Security Council reiterates that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines.”


The statement denounced “all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terrorism," calling on all parties to condemn such acts and hold those targeting civilians accountable. Members of the Security Council also recalled “the obligation of the Palestinian Authority to renounce and confront terror.”

Monday’s statement was a first announcement issued in nine years by the Security Council on the Palestinian question. Traditionally, the United States has been vetoing all such resolution proposals.

The Security Council issued a joint presidential statement, and not a binding resolution, after the United States averted showdown, and convinced members of the group to withdraw a more forceful resolution, proposed last week by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). US Secretary of State Antony Blinken led the effort.

The stronger draft resolution would have demanded that Israel "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory."

Blinken called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend and was able to convince him to refrain from any unilateral moves and to withdraw the original Security Council resolution draft, sponsored on his behalf by the UAE. In exchange, the Biden administration would support the lower-level presidential statement, and pressure Israel on illegal outposts. Israeli media reports said Abbas is expected to receive soon an invitation to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House — an invitation that Netanyahu has not seen yet. 

Earlier on Monday, the office of Netanyahu said it had notified the Biden administration that Israel would hold off on legalizing any additional wildcat West Bank outposts for several months, but that it would move forward with the steps already announced on settlement expansion.

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