Nov. 21 (UPI) — The members of the U.N. Security Council strongly rebuked the United States for its announcement that it will no longer consider Israeli settlements to be illegal under international law.
The members of the council Wednesday criticized the shift in U.S. policy as it threatens peace in the region by undermining the two-state solution at a time of recent hostility between Palestine and Israel.
The council meeting was held two days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the change to swift international condemnation.
Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East Peace process, said Wednesday they “regret” the U.S. announcement and that the U.N. Security Council’s position remains unchanged and that regardless of anyone national policy declaration, the Israeli settlement activities are “a flagrant violation under international law.”
“Unilateral moves fuel anger and disillusionment and significantly undermine the prospects for establishing a contiguous and viable Palestinian State and Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” he said.
Karen Pierce, Britain’s permanent representative to the U.N., echoed this notion, stating that her nation’s position remains unchanged despite the United State’s announcement.
“I wanted to stress the U.K. position on settlements hasn’t changed,” she said. “They are illegal under international law. They present an obstacle to peace. They threaten the physical ability of a two-state solution.”
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy called on Israel to end its settlement activity and policy of demolishing Palestinian property while stating the new U.S. position will exasperate the already tense situation.
“To us, this reality is unacceptable and illicit,” he told the council.
U.S. Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet defended the policy shift, saying the Israeli settlements weren’t “per se” inconsistent with international law and that the only way to solve this decades-old problem is through negotiations.
“I’d like to be clear on our decision: The U.S. government is expressing no view on the particular legal status of any individual settlement, nor are we addressing or prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank — that is for Israelis and Palestinians to decide,” she said.
Following Pompeo’s declaration on Monday, the European Union reiterated its stance that all Israeli settlement activity is illegal and erodes the possibility of a two-state solution.
“The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power,” it said in a statement.
The announcement comes as a blow to Palestinians seeking to establish its own state independent of Israel. It also comes at a time of renewed hostility between the two sides.
Earlier this month, Israel conducted a predawn attack into Gaza, killing a commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which set off volleys of fighting that stopped some two days later with a cease fire.