UN holds off action over new Israeli settler homes
The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Wednesday to discuss Israel’s plan to build new settler homes in the Palestinian West Bank, but took no action.
Council members heard a report from UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov after the Israeli government approved a major expansion of 2,500 homes, in defiance of a UN resolution that demanded an end to settlement construction.
The United States refrained from using its veto, abstaining from the vote in late December and allowing the resolution criticizing Israel to pass during the final weeks of former president Barack Obama’s administration.
During the closed council meeting on Wednesday, the US representative did not take the floor to speak, diplomats said.
The settlement building “needs to be condemned,” Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog told reporters.
“We believe that any action that is taken in violation of international law or Security Council resolution 2234, regardless of who violates that resolution, needs to be condemned,” he said.
The ambassador, who holds the council presidency this month, said council members received an update of the situation but that no one pushed for immediate action during the talks, requested by Bolivia.
Incoming US Ambassador Nikki Haley, confirmed in her post this week, has yet to present her credentials to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters the council must ensure that its own resolutions are upheld and that Israel must not be allowed to “get away with it” by building more settlements.
The Swedish ambassador said that despite taking no immediate action, “everyone in the council that spoke today is eager to make sure we find ways to minimize the effects of unilateral action.”
Haley told her Senate confirmation hearing that she supports President Donald Trump’s plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, an action Arab governments would consider provocative.
Guterres is due to follow up on the resolution in March by reporting to the council on Israeli settlement activity.
The United Nations on Tuesday denounced Israeli initiatives to accelerate settlement construction on land earmarked to be part of a future Palestinian state.
“For the secretary general, there is no plan B for the two states solution,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.