West bank settlements
© Baz Ratner / Reuters
A general view shows a construction site in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, in the occupied West Bank December 22, 2016.
The UN Security Council has passed a resolution demanding an end to the construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories after the US abstained from voting.

The resolution was introduced to the UNSC by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal on Friday, a day after Egypt withdrew reportedly under pressure from Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump.

Earlier, Trump and Israeli authorities also called on the US to veto the resolution. The document was eventually adopted with 14 of 15 UNSC members voting in favor. The US was the only nation to abstain from voting.


It is the first resolution passed by the UNSC on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in almost eight years.

The Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon criticized the US' decision to abstain. However, he expressed his confidence that the new US president would "no doubt" usher in a new era in UN-Israeli ties, as well as the new UN Secretary General.


The US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power responded to the Israeli envoy's criticism by stressing that one "cannot champion settlements and the two state solution" at the same time. She went on to say that the US did not veto the resolution as it "reflects the facts on the ground and is consistent with US policy."

Power also stressed that continued settlement building "undermines" Israel's own security.


At the same time, Palestinians hailed the adoption of the resolution by the UNSC as a "day of victory."

"This is a day of victory for international law, a victory for civilized language and negotiation and a total rejection of extremist forces in Israel," Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters.


Danon earlier said that the resolution served as "the condemnation of the sole democracy in the Middle East [Israel]."

The UNSC was initially scheduled to vote on the resolution on Thursday but Egypt pulled its text at the last minute, postponing the vote until after the wrapup of the Arab League ministerial meeting in Cairo. According to Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exerted heavy pressure on Egyptian President Abdel Sissi urging him to delay the vote.

Meanwhile, US House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced US abstention by calling it "absolutely shameful" and describing it as a "blow to peace." The US Republican senator, John McCain, went further and said that the abstention in the UNSC vote made the US "complicit in this outrageous attack" against Israel, reported Reuters.

The current Obama administration previously expressed its disapproval of Israeli settlement policies, which Tel Aviv has pursued since 1967. However, in 2011, Washington vetoed a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

Israel occupied Palestinian territories in 1967. Now, more than 500,000 Israelis live in settlements built on occupied territories. Meanwhile, Palestinians have been seeking full independence for the occupied territories for decades and demand full recognition as a sovereign state from both the UN and the international community.