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    Israeli national flag flying next to an Israeli building site of new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. (File)

    UN Resolution Shows World Views Israeli Settlements as Obstacle to Mideast Peace

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    The UNSC resolution, condemning the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, reflects a broad international consensus that the Israeli pro-settlement policy constitutes an obstacle to peace in the Middle East, experts told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Friday, the UNSC passed a resolution in a 14-0 vote, with the only abstention from the United States, condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The resolution states that Israel should immediately and completely cease all settlement activities on "occupied Palestinian territory."

    "No matter whether the wording of this resolution is correct or not, it reflects the reality in which no country recognizes Israel's right to settlement-building in Judea and Samaria," Yakov Kedmi, a retired high-ranking Israeli intelligence official, told Sputnik adding that settlements are viewed "as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians."

    Zeev Hanin, a professor at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel, in his turn, underlined that this resolution "creates new political and legal realities to be reckoned not only by Israel but also by its allies, especially the United States." He also noted that this vote has a lot to do with "serious personal differences and differences in the political agendas" of the US and the Israeli leaders.

    "Obama believed that there was a need to reboot US-Arab relations. This move also is about trying to leave a legacy," Hanin added.

    Under "new realities" Hanin views a precedent that was set by Washington abstaining on the resolution that lays out guidelines for dealing with the settlements, allowing it to pass, rather than vetoing it, as it did for the last 37 years with resolutions seen as overly critical of Israel.

    The UN resolution may have no immediate practical effects on Israel or their negotiation with the Palestinians because it is non-binding but would require a follow-up action at the United Nations. Besides, this resolution may set conditions and parameters for the sensitive issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such as borders, the status of Jerusalem and a deadline for negotiations.

    NETANAYAHU SHOWS 'HAWK' CLAWS

    The resolution, that infuriated hard-liners of the Israeli political establishment led by Netanyahu that are often called "hawks" over their rhetoric toward peace process with the Palestinians, worsened the already chilly relations between Obama and the head of the Israeli state.

    On Friday, Netanyahu lashed out at the outgoing US president saying that "the Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes."

    Following the UN Security Council vote, Israel summoned 14 ambassadors of the UNSC member states, including the US ambassador. Netanyahu followed that up by canceling high-level visits and limiting working ties with the embassies of those countries who voted for the resolution.

    Kedmi believes that the intent of these diplomatic steps are symbolic and aimed at making a statement about how angry Netanyahu was about the vote on the domestic market.

    "Netanyahu's reaction is intended for the domestic market and has no international effect. On the domestic market, Netanyahu had to react and find someone to blame for adoption of the resolution which is seen by the opposition forces inside Israel as an aftermath of his policies toward the United States and the peace process," Kedmi said.

    The expert noted that the Israeli prime minister did not suspend working ties with the US embassy or any world powers, "taking it out on weak states." "He expressed his discontent towards Ukraine, Venezuela and Senegal but his fury was very limited towards China, Russia, the United Kingdom or even the United States," Kedmi pointed.

    WILL FRENCH JEWS HEAD FOR ISRAEL?

    It is highly likely that an international conference on Israeli-Palestinian settlement in Paris, scheduled for January 15, could be the forum for discussion of the UNSC resolution. Israel refused to take part in the event saying that it would prefer to hold bilateral talks directly with the Palestinian side.

    On Monday, at the height of frustration with the Security Council's vote, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the upcoming Paris conference is organized to "harm" Israeli interests and adds to the anti-Jewish atmosphere in France. Lieberman then recounted a series of recent antisemitic incidents in this European state adding that "this is the time to tell French Jews: ‘this is not your country or your land and it’s time to leave.’"

    In response to Lieberman’s speech, Sammy Ghozlan, the president of the French National Bureau for Vigilance against Antisemitism, said the French conference is not a "tribunal aimed at judging or punishing Israel" but an attempt to get the two sides together in an effort to bring about a peaceful solution.

    Kedmi called Lieberman’s speech, delivered at the opening of his Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting in the Knesset, "ridiculous."

    "A call for packing bags and moving to Israel is ridiculous and has been already once used by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who also was urging French Jews to repatriate after terrorist acts in France. The only reaction to this statement was confusion of the French government, negative reaction of French Jews and sarcasm over primitive move by the Israeli statesman," Kedmi said adding "it is a pity that people discredit not only themselves, but also the state."

    Analyzing Lieberman’s speech, Hanin, in his turn, noted that it was a rather spontaneous but conscious statement.

    "In recent years, growing anti-Semitism, associated with the ultra-left rhetoric and rising Islamist component in Europe, made life of the European Jews very uncomfortable. It was appropriate, conscious and informed statement which says to Jews that they have a home, where they are always welcome," Hanin said adding that an aliyah from France to Israel increased several times over the last few years.

    In March, the Council of Europe Anti-Racism Commission (ECRI) noted its concern about the high level of race-related crime and the rise of hate speech in France, involving attempted murder, particularly in connection with anti-Semitism. The anti-racism commission, however, also noted an increase in Islamophobic violence in the country.

    After the Six Day War in 1967, Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula. The United States has been calling on Israel to accept borders that existed before the conflict.

    Palestinians seek diplomatic recognition for their independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which is partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip. Israel has been building settlements on the occupied territories despite objection from the United Nations.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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