UN draft resolution demands halt to Israeli settlements

“The introduction of this resolution is unhelpful in supporting the conditions necessary to advance negotiations for a two-state solution,” said the deputy State Department spokesman.

By Associated Press

A Palestinian-backed U.N. resolution that could be put to a vote in the Security Council early next week would demand an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement activities, condemn Israeli attempts to annex settlements and outposts, “and call for their immediate reversal.”

In Washington, the State Department said it believed the resolution as drafted was “unhelpful,” but declined to say if it would veto the document or try to water it down to avoid a contentious vote.

Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks were private, said the U.S. was seeking to replace the resolution, which would be legally binding, with a weaker presidential statement.

The push for a vote on the draft resolution, a copy of which was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, comes as Israel’s new government has reaffirmed its commitment to construct new settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and expand its authority in the lands that the Palestinians seek for a future state.

Nationalists who oppose Palestinian statehood comprise a majority of Israel’s new government, which has declared settlement construction a top priority. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has vowed to “normalize” life in Judea and Samaria, erasing the differences between living in a settlement and within Israel’s internationally recognized border, and effectively annexing the territory.

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The draft resolution, circulated by the United Arab Emirates, the Arab representative on the council, would reaffirm the Security Council’s “unwavering commitment” to a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace as democratic states.

It would also reaffirm the U.N. Charter’s provision against acquiring territory by force and reaffirm that any such acquisition is illegal.

On Tuesday, top diplomats from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy condemned Israel’s plans to build 10,000 new homes in existing settlements in Judea and Samaria and retroactively legalize nine outposts. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet announced the measure Sunday, following a surge in violence in Jerusalem, including deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

U.S. deputy State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters in Washington on Thursday: “The introduction of this resolution is unhelpful in supporting the conditions necessary to advance negotiations for a two-state solution.”

Patel added that Israel’s recent decision to expand settlements and legalize previously illegal settlement outposts was also “unhelpful.”