President-elect Donald J. Trump demanded that President Barack Obama veto a UN Security Council resolution to be voted on Thursday that would declare Israeli settlements across the 1949 armistice line — i.e. in the West Bank — to be illegal.
The Obama administration has hinted that it would not veto a resolution authored by the Palestinians and brought to the Security Council by Egypt, which currently holds a rotating seat. As Breitbart News reported last week, several other countries were also considering various resolutions aimed at declaring Israeli settlements illegal. These resolutions would isolate Israel, embolden the Palestinians, and legitimize the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Trump issued the following statement from Palm Beach, Florida:
The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed.
As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.
This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.
Trump also tweeted the statement.
The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed….cont: https://t.co/s8rXKKZNF1
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Israel does not consider most of the settlements illegal — except wildcat settlements set up in violation of Israeli law — since there is no prior legal sovereign in the West Bank (which Israelis refer to as Judea and Samaria). Much of the area was to have been an Arab state according to a UN plan passed in 1947, but the surrounding Arab states went to war against Israel, and Jordan occupied the territory until 1967. The Palestinians consider all Israeli development across the 1949 armistice line — including in East Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel shortly after winning the Six Day War in 1967 — to be illegal.
The Obama administration has adopted a version of the Palestinian position on the issue, referring to Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem that happen to be across the “Green Line” as “settlements.”
Trump has promised to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from the coastal city of Tel Aviv — where most western embassies are — to West Jerusalem, which is entirely on sovereign Israeli territory and is home to the Israeli Knesset (parliament), the High Court, and much of Israel’s national government.
Israel considers both East and West Jerusalem to be one city. The Old City is on the eastern side, and was off-limits to Jews during the period of Jordanian occupation, which also saw the ancient Jewish neighborhood of the city largely destroyed.
Trump’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, reportedly favors the Israeli position.
According to NBC News, Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said: “It is absurd that at a time when thousands are being massacred in Syria, the Security Council is devoting time and energy to convene and discuss condemning the only true democracy in the Middle East.”
In the past, the U.S. has vetoed such resolutions at the Security Council, but the lame-duck Obama administration has suggested it will not do so, in a parting shot at the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and at Trump.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.