The Obama administration on Friday allowed the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements, defying pressure from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as well as Israel and several U.S. senators who urged Washington to use its veto.
The resolution was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and the U.S. president-elect. Israel and Trump had called on the United States to veto the measure.
It was adopted with 14 votes in favor, to a round of applause. It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.
Continued settlement building “seriously undermines Israel’s security,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said on Friday.
“The United States has been sending a message that the settlements must stop privately and publicly for nearly five decades,” she told the council after the vote.
“One cannot simultaneously champion expanding Israeli settlements and champion a viable two state solution that would end the conflict. One had to make a choice between settlements and separation,” she said.
The U.S. decision to abstain was a relatively rare step by Washington, which usually shields Israel from such action.
The U.S. abstention was seen as a parting shot by U.S. President Barack Obama, who has had an acrimonious relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and who has made settlements a major target of peace efforts that have proven ultimately futile.