UN bids lead to settlement expansion - The Behrend Beacon

UN bid leads to settlement expansion

Posted on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 8:47 PM

Author: Sierra Birx (news editor)

On Nov. 29, just eight days after the eight day battle between Israel and Gaza, Palestine’s standing in the U.N. was elevated in a landslide vote. The vote, which gave Palestine the title of “non-member observer state”, was won after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the U.N. in a General Assembly meeting. Among the nine dissenters were the United States and Israel, claiming the new title would not lead to peace. The majority of U.N. members, 138 countries, voted in favor of the bid, while there were 41 abstentions, including Germany and Britain. 

While securing an easy vote that moves Palestine from non-observer entity to non-observer state status suggests the world may be ready to welcome a Palestinian state. Without the approval of the Security Council of the U.N., however, Palestine’s statehood is far from confirmed. 

Israel’s vote against Palestine’s status as a “non-member observer state” may not come as any surprise, but Israel’s prime minister insists that he welcomes an independent Palestinian state as long as peace can be secured for Israel.

“Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected. The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, according to cnn.

This statement comes after comments from Hamas reflect a Palestinian sect unwilling to recognize the Jewish state. A member of Hamas’ political bureau, Izzat Al-Rashq, wrote on his Facebook page calling for a Palestinian state whose territory encompasses land now belonging to Israel.

The U.S. opposition comes from the worry that this step may lead Palestine and Israel to continue to halt negotiations, the last of which were in 2010.

This vote gives U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and others new hope of a possible two-state solution in which Palestine and Israel coexist. However for a Palestinian state to exist, the U.N. Security Council must agree on the proposal, and Israel and Palestine must make an effort to begin negotiations again.


Israel's Response

While the dust was still settling from the Palestinian’s U.N. bid, Israel announced its intentions of expanding settlements into the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a move that some say will endanger the two-state proposal the U.N. vote opened up.

“We deplore the recent Israeli government decision to build 3,000 new housing units and unfreeze development in the E1 block (of East Jerusalem). This threatens the viability of the two-state solution,” Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement, according to msnbc. 

The E1 block is a five square-mile area in East Jerusalem, given that name by Israel for a possible settlement area. If, in fact, Israel did build a settlement in that area, it would mean a connected Palestinian state could not exist due to the land lying between Jerusalem and the already established Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim. 

Just after the vote had won the Palestinians their enhanced status in the U.N., Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erakat believed the vote would mean any attempt by Israel to expand their settlements in occupied territory would be illegitimate. Netanyahu, however, felt the bid put no such restrictions on Israel’s settlement plans.

“No decision by the U.N. can break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

As with the Palestinian bid, the U.S. main concern in Israel’s decision to go forward with settlement plans is that negotiations would be unlikely to resume. 

“We believe these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve of a two state solution,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

The U.S. fears of a prolonged stall in negotiations are likely if Israel goes ahead with it’s plan of building 3,000 new homes. This is especially true since building is set to begin in a territory they would like to see apart of their new state.