The United States reportedly brokered a deal to keep a U.N. Security Council resolution critical of Israeli settlements from coming to a vote.
But for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that wasn’t enough.
The 15-member Security Council opted to adopt a presidential statement on Monday during its monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian file. The statement, issued on behalf of the Security Council president and adopted by consensus, does not have the binding force of a resolution. It rapped Israel for last week’s announcement of plans to build more homes in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as to legalize nine previously unauthorized settlement outposts.
“The Security Council reiterates that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines,” the council said in the statement, which can only be adopted by consensus. “The Security Council expresses deep concern and dismay with Israel’s announcement on February 12.”
The original resolution, which the United Arab Emirates drafted on behalf of the Palestinians, would have demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities” in what the United Nations deems to be occupied territory.
The UAE pulled the circulating draft on Sunday as the United States reportedly coaxed Israel and the Palestinian Authority into an agreement. Israel will forgo further announcements of settlement expansion and demolition of, and eviction from, homes and structures occupied by Palestinians in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria for “several months.”
In return, the P.A. agreed to assume a greater responsibility for counterterrorism operations in Area A of Judea and Samaria, which is under its full control and which has seen regular incursions by the Israeli military in order to contain terror activity which the P.A. refuses to do. P.A. head Mahmoud Abbas will also reportedly be extended an invitation to the White House.
The Israeli, Palestinian and UAE envoys to the United Nations would not confirm the reported details of the deal nor discuss the circumstances by which they came about.
The presidential statement used language often emanating from the White House and U.S. State Department, and a JNS source at the United Nations who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the drafting of the statement was largely Washington-driven.
The statement largely laid the blame on Israeli settlement expansion for imperiling the peace process, with the P.A.’s obligation to “renounce and confront terror” mentioned midway through the document. The statement made no mention of its payments to nor glorification of terrorists who carry out attacks, including against Israeli civilians.
‘This is an utter disgrace’
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said the Security Council’s priorities are backward. He held up a picture of brothers Asher and Yaakov Paley, two children killed this month by a Palestinian terrorist in a car-ramming attack.
The Palestinians’ most important international commitment was their obligation to combat terror, according to Erdan. “Yet today, the Palestinian Authority not only refuses to take real action to prevent terrorism, it actively, for many years now, stokes the flames of violence,” he told the Security Council.
Erdan quoted a Palestinian state television program in which a young Palestinian girl recites a poem about receiving a machine gun and rifle from her father to achieve victory over Israel and America.
“By glorifying terrorists and paying them money, the P.A. is breeding a culture of hatred and evil, which makes reconciliation impossible,” said the ambassador. He emphasized that evidence was irrefutable that “the Palestinian culture of hate and terror is real. How can this council justify ignoring it and never addressing it?”
Erdan chided the council for the “concern” and “dismay” it expresses of Israeli actions, but not of persistent, systemic Palestinian terrorism.
“Building permits in our homeland spark international uproar, while dead Jewish children illicit nothing. This is an utter disgrace,” said Erdan.
Erdan asked why the Security Council fails to discuss well-known illegal Palestinian construction in Israeli-controlled Area C of Judea and Samaria.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the council that “the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians is unconscionable. And the United States supports Israel’s right to self-defense.”
Thomas-Greenfield made what she called an unequivocal statement. “We strongly oppose Israel’s announcement that it will advance thousands of settlement units,” she said. “And we strongly oppose Israel’s announcement that it will begin a process to retroactively legalize nine outposts in the West Bank that were previously illegal under Israeli law.”
Remaining in line with a change in U.S. policy formulated under the Trump administration, Thomas-Greenfield did not deem Israeli settlements illegal. She said the measures “exacerbate tensions” and “harm trust between the parties.”
The heavy focus of the presidential statement on Israeli settlement and counterterror activities drew Netanyahu’s ire.
The prime minister’s office released a statement calling the Security Council document “one-sided” and one that “denies the rights of Jews to live in our historic homeland, fails to mention the Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem in which 10 Israeli civilians were murdered, ignores the Palestinian Authority’s grotesque pay-for-slay policy, which subsidizes the murder of Jews, and belittles the evil of antisemitism, which has resulted in the slaughter of millions.”
After a pair of Israeli government ministers recently intimated that the Biden administration should keep its thoughts on Israeli government activity to itself, Netanyahu’s office chided the White House. The Security Council presidential statement “should never have been made, and the United States should never have joined it,” it stated.
If the State Department expected thanks for killing the original resolution, it will need to look elsewhere. That doesn’t appear to be coming from Jerusalem, as tensions between the two governments grow over a number of issues.