Arabs Want UN Secutity Council to Censure Settlement Building - An EXCUSE to Avoid Negotiations

Arabs want UN Security Council to censure Israeli settlement building

On the initiative of the Palestinian Authority, several governments of Arab countries have submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council calling for a condemnation of Israel for its settlement activities in the West Bank. The Palestinians said they would bring the issue to the Security Council because US attempts to get a settlement building freeze had failed. Palestinian negotiators pulled out of direct talks with Israel over the issue in October 2010.

The resolution text condemns Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, calling it an obstacle to peace. Three of the resolution's co-sponsors are members of the Security Council, but the text can be blocked by a veto of any of the five permanent members of the body, Britain, China, France, Russia or the United States. Israel has accused the Palestinians of using the settlement issue to avoid negotiations.

In Washington, 16 members of the Senate urged US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton veto the resolution. In a letter to the secretary of state, sent by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York who succeeded Clinton in 2009, the senators said the resolution an attempt to unilaterally dictate terms to Israel and avoid direct negotiations.

“We believe such a move hurts the prospects for a peace agreement and is not in the interest of the United States," the letter stated. "A resolution of this nature would work against our country’s consistent position, which has been that this and other issues linked to the Middle East peace process can only be resolved by the two parties negotiating directly with each other. Attempts to use a venue such as the United Nations, which you know has a long history of hostility toward Israel, to deal with just one issue in the negotiations, will not move the two sides closer to a two-state solution, but rather damage the fragile trust between them.”

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