Vote on Israel could spur further action, or difficulty for UN

In this photo provided by the United Nations, members of the United Nations Security council vote at the United Nations headquarters on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in favor of condemning Israel for its practice of establishing settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. In a striking rupture with past practice, the U.S. allowed the vote, not exercising its veto. (Manuel Elias/The United Nations via AP)

The US green light that allowed the UN Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem could spur moves toward new terms to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it also poses dangers for the United Nations with the incoming Trump administration and may harden Israel’s attitude toward concessions. The Obama administration’s decision to abstain and allow the UN’s most powerful body to approve a long-sought resolution calling Israeli settlements “a flagrant violation under international law” was a sharp rebuke to a longstanding ally and a striking rupture with past US vetoes.

The Security Council vote Friday, however, was anything but routine for Washington, which traditionally vetoes all resolutions related to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict on grounds that differences must be solved through negotiations. It was the first resolution on the conflict approved during President Barack Obama’s nearly eight years in office and shone a spotlight on his icy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump demanded that Obama veto the resolution and tweeted after the vote, “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th”, when Trump takes office. It would be virtually impossible, however, for Trump to overturn the resolution. It would require a new resolution with support from at least nine members in the 15-member Security Council and no veto by one of the other permanent members, Russia, China, Britain or France, all of whom supported Friday’s resolution

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