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On Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, the Israeli government addressed Resolution 2334 passed by the United Nation Security Council (UNSC). The response came in the form of an announcement to move forward with plans to begin the construction of 600 housing units in eastern Jerusalem. After the UNSC passed the resolution, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, summoned the American ambassador to discuss the matter and has limited diplomatic activity through recalling envoys and reducing foreign aid. Netanyahu explained that this “is a responsible response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the work that what was done at the U.N. is unacceptable to us.”
The response by the Israeli government to UN resolution may be merited considering the potential repercussions of the 14-0 vote, with the United States abstaining. The resolution called the ongoing settlement process by Israelis in Jerusalem a “flagrant violation of international law.” The language of Resolution 2334 has given Palestinian officials a legal basis to pursue their case against Israel in several international judicial bodies including the International Criminal Court. Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, commented on the next steps to be taken by the Palestinians: “Now we can talk about the boycott of all settlements, the companies that work with them, et cetera, and actually take legal action against them if they continue to work with them.”
Resolution 2334 essentially repeals Resolution 242 that was passed by the UNSC in 1967. The latter resolution was passed unanimously following the Six-Day War. Resolution 242 provided each nation in the Middle East with the “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” It also mandated that Israel should retreat “from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” but this fell short of demanding a total withdraw and has since allowed for a certain degree of wiggle room for the Israelis as long as the umbrella concept of “land for peace” headed the agenda in the Middle East. Resolution 2334 rejects any proposed changes to “the  lines, including those with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by parties through negotiations.”
An underlying issue that will persist is the debate of where the borders between Israel and its neighboring countries lie. The settlement project pursued by Israel has, in the past, merely scattered housing units across the Green Line. This is the assumed border that was originally established in the 1949 Armistice Agreement and later reaffirmed in 1967 after the end of the Six Day War. However, the Jordanians and others have argued that those borders were never established but were simply the lines where each nation’s forces were at the end of the conflict. Advocates arguing this position draw attention to the fact that not even Resolution 242 designates the Green Line as an official border.
The Israeli government’s response to UN Resolution 2334 was defended by Netanyahu’s statement: “Israel is a country with national pride, and we do not turn the other cheek.” Palestinian foreign minister Raid Malki has gone as far as to say, “We are looking to devise a comprehensive vision, and hopefully 2017 will be the year when the Israeli occupation ends.” The decision by the UNSC to pass Resolution 2334 comes at transitional time in international politics and it is unclear whether it is a result of this atmosphere of uncertainty. Future attempts to mediate and/or negotiate this ongoing conflict will provide opportunities for further discussion.
By Joel Wickwire
Edited by Cathy Milne
Arutz Sheva: There is no such thing as Israel’s “pre-1967 borders”
Bloomberg: What UN Vote on Israel Means – and What’s Next
The New York Times: Defying U.N., Israel Prepares to Build More Settlements
The Wall Street Journal: Obama’s Partying Betrayal of Israel
Top and Feature Image Courtesy of Scott Garner’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License