Israeli settlement buildings in occupied territories will be forced to come to an end in the West Bank and east Jerusalem after a United Nations Security Council resolution passed this afternoon. Rather than using veto power to block the resolution, the United States abstained from voting. This abstention signifies the break of a longstanding American tradition of being Israel’s diplomatic shield.
While the U.S. has been against the Jewish settlements, where around 600,000 Israelis live, in the past the U.S. has consistently used its veto power as a member of the Security Council to block any resolutions from being passed. The reason? The belief that the solution isn’t in U.N. Resolutions, but rather in negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
Egypt championed the resolution. President-elect Donald Trump is reported to have spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then both men spoke to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. These conversations resulted in an agreement to give the incoming Trump administration a chance to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, a group of frustrated countries on the Security Council decided to put it up for a vote this afternoon. It passed with 14 votes in favor and one abstention – the U.S.
In addition to the negative impact on Israel, this abstention is likely to cause friction in what President Barack Obama has said would be a smooth transition, as the administration’s actions are in direct conflict with President-elect Trump’s foreign policy. President-elect Trump has been vocal regarding his sympathy to Israel.