Palestinians seek UN condemnation of Jewish houses

Friday, February 18, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

The Palestinians and their allies in the Arab world on Friday submitted to the UN Security Council a resolution condemning Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (including the eastern half of Jerusalem), and mandating new observers to ensure Israel complies with the ruling.

The vote on the resolution was to go forward despite a last minute effort by US President Barack Obama to downgrade the wording of the resolution. Obama phoned Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday to urge him to instead submit a non-binding statement to the Security Council, and not a resolution.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that while Obama agrees with the Palestinians regarding Jewish housing in Judea and Samaria, he does not feel the UN Security Council is the proper forum for addressing the issue.

If the resolution is passed by the Security Council as a legally-binding motion, it would mark the first time that the world body has officially labelled Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria as illegal under international law.

All other UN resolutions on the matter have been passed by the General Assembly, meaning they are not legally-binding, or have been not full Security Council resolutions, but rather “statements.” The last legally binding resolution passed on Jewish settlement in the area by the UN - or rather, by its predecessor the League of Nations - granted Jews the right to built in Judea and Samaria.

It is widely expected that the US will have no choice but to veto the new resolution, as having it pass would all but eliminate chances of restarting direct peace negotiations in the foreseeable future. Many Israelis believe that is precisely what the Palestinians want, as they continue down the path of unilaterally establishing an independent state in Judea and Samaria with the backing of most of the international community.

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