UN passes resolution calling for end to Israeli settlements

UN passes resolution calling for end to Israeli settlements
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The U.N. Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building in occupied territories.
 
The U.S. had the ability to veto the resolution but abstained from doing so, despite pressure from President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
 
The Obama administration’s decision to let it pass represents a break from the longstanding U.S. policy of shielding Israel from U.N. reproaches.
 
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Israel’s settlements have been seen by critics as human rights violations and some say they are an obstacle to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
Trump argued that the U.N. resolution would be a bigger impediment to negotiations between the two sides.
 
"As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations,” the president-elect said in a statement Thursday.
 
"This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis."
 
Samantha PowerSamantha Jane Power10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era 'Dear Attorney General Barr': Advice from insiders Heather Nauert is the wrong choice for UN ambassador MORE, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., explained the move in a statement to the council, condemning Netanyahu for continuing settlement expansion while paying lip service to the idea of a two-state solution.
 
“One cannot simultaneously champion expanding Israeli settlements and champion a viable two-state solution that would end the conflict,” she said. “One has to make a choice between settlements and separation.”

The news of the U.S. abstention was met with fierce condemnation from many on the right, including the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), just minutes after some top Democrats had called on the administration to veto the measure.

“This is absolutely shameful," House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Inside Biden's preparations for first debate MORE (R-Wis.) said in a statement. "Today's vote is a blow to peace that sets a dangerous precedent for further diplomatic efforts to isolate and demonize Israel. Our unified Republican government will work to reverse the damage done by this administration, and rebuild our alliance with Israel."
 
Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Supporting the military means supporting military spouses MORE (R-Ark.) blasted the Obama administration's move as "cowardly" and "disgraceful" and threatened to push for reprisals against the U.N. and members of the security council.
 
"The UN and nations supporting this resolution have now imperiled all forms of U.S. assistance," Cotton said in a statement. "I look forward to working with President-elect Trump and members of both parties in Congress to decide what the consequences for this action will be.”
 
Minutes before the vote, top Democrats like Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) and incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw US women's soccer team reignites equal pay push MORE (N.Y.) had urged the president to veto the resolution.
 
J Street, a liberal Jewish organization that favors a two-state solution, came to Obama's side, applauding the move in a statement Friday afternoon.
 
"This resolution conveys the overwhelming support of the international community, including Israel’s closest friends and allies, for the two-state solution, and their deep concern over the deteriorating status quo between Israelis and Palestinians and the lack of meaningful progress toward peace," Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group's president, said in the statement. 
 
"It is also a clear signal that the international community’s patience with an occupation of almost 50 years has limits."
 
- Updated at 3:04 p.m.