The United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution condemning Israel’s practice of establishing settlements on Palestinian territory, and in a change from policy, the United States abstained from voting, rather than exercise its usual veto.
The change by the United States meant the measure passed, the first Middle East motion to pass in the Security Council in eight years. Applause broke out when the vote result — 14 “yes” votes out of the 15 council members — was announced.
The resolution calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
The Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. called the resolution “disgraceful” and said Israel had expected its usual support from the United States.
The vote was scheduled at the request of four countries — Venezuela, Senegal, New Zealand, and Malaysia. Egypt first proposed the measure, but withdrew its request after a phone call between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
The outgoing Obama administration has not had a warm relationship with the government of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite its consistent veto of resolutions against the Israeli settlements. The incoming Trump administration is expected to forge a stronger relationship with the current Israeli government.