Broken promises: A history of UN resolutions and West Bank Settlements

Published January 19th, 2017 - 12:49 GMT

At the end of last year, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israel's settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The resolution was particularly noteworthy due to the United States taking the unusual decision to abstain on the resolution, allowing it to pass rather than vetoing. But will the new resolution make a difference to the peace process and Israel’s policy of settlement expansion?

Since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has remained clear that settlements are illegal and an obstruction to a peaceful resolution. Here, we take a look back at the history of UNSC resolutions  regarding Israeli settlement activity and expansion onto Palestinian land, and see how this has shaped the conflict between Israel-Palestine and plans for peace.

 
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Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

Israeli settlements are civilian communities inhabited by Israeli citizens, predominantly built in the Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights, which has been militarily occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War. This occupation and settlement expansion onto Palestinian land has been described as the last remaining active colonial project.

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

Their existence has lead to various human rights violations against Palestinians, including the rights to property, equality, an adequate standard of living and freedom of movement. Additionally, Israel’s continued settlement expansion has radically altered the map of the West Bank, acting as a major stumbling block to peace efforts.

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

Over the decades, the UNSC has voted in a number of resolutions aimed at preventing settlement expansion. UNSC resolution 242 was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967,after the Six-Day War, and called for Israel to withdraw from the territories it had occupied.

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

Resolution 446, adopted in 1979, determined that settlements “have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East"

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

Resolution 452, adopted in 1979, stated "the policy of Israel in establishing settlements in the occupied Arab territories has no legal validity" and called upon Israel “to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem."

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

Resolution 465 was adopted unanimously in 1980. It determined that Israeli construction across the Green Line delineating its borders until 1967 constitutes a violation of international law and called on all states ‘not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories’.

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

Resolution 478, adopted in 1980, condemned Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and reiterated the position that all actions altering the status of the city were void. It also called upon states that had established diplomatic missions in Jerusalem to withdraw them.

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

Resolution 2334, on 23 December 2016, called for an end to Israeli settlement building. The abstention of the Obama administration was condemned by Israeli President Netanyahu as a ‘disgraceful anti-Israel manoeuvre.’ Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called it ‘a day of victory for international law.’

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

But is it a really a victory? Experts argue that the resolution’s effects are primarily diplomatic and political and Netanyahu has already declared that Israel will not not abide by the terms of the resolution. While the resolution is a moral and symbolic victory for Palestinians, it seems unlikely there will be any impact on the ground.

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

Despite the passing of prior UN resolutions over the past decades, settlement expansion has only increased. When resolution 446 was adopted in 1979, the Jewish settlers in those territories numbered 12,500. Today, according to Peace Now, their number is nearing 400,000.

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

With US Secretary of State John Kerry describing Israeli settlements as "a recipe for permanent insurgency, permanent conflict," critics see Israel’s continued settlement expansion and apparent disregard for the UN resolutions as a major barrier to peace and a two-state solution.

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution

The Ma’ale Adumim settlement embodies Kerry’s warning. Analysts believe the settlement is aimed at isolating East Jerusalem and disrupting the territorial contiguity between the north and south of the West Bank. This and other settlements undermine the prospect of a united Palestinian state with 1967 borders, leaving little hope for peace.

Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Israeli settlements are civilian communities inhabited by Israeli citizens, predominantly built in the Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights, which has been militarily occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War. This occupation and settlement expansion onto Palestinian land has been described as the last remaining active colonial project.
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Their existence has lead to various human rights violations against Palestinians, including the rights to property, equality, an adequate standard of living and freedom of movement. Additionally, Israel’s continued settlement expansion has radically altered the map of the West Bank, acting as a major stumbling block to peace efforts.
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Over the decades, the UNSC has voted in a number of resolutions aimed at preventing settlement expansion. UNSC resolution 242 was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967,after the Six-Day War, and called for Israel to withdraw from the territories it had occupied.
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Resolution 446, adopted in 1979, determined that settlements “have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East"
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Resolution 452, adopted in 1979, stated "the policy of Israel in establishing settlements in the occupied Arab territories has no legal validity" and called upon Israel “to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem."
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Resolution 465 was adopted unanimously in 1980. It determined that Israeli construction across the Green Line delineating its borders until 1967 constitutes a violation of international law and called on all states ‘not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories’.
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Resolution 478, adopted in 1980, condemned Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and reiterated the position that all actions altering the status of the city were void. It also called upon states that had established diplomatic missions in Jerusalem to withdraw them.
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Resolution 2334, on 23 December 2016, called for an end to Israeli settlement building. The abstention of the Obama administration was condemned by Israeli President Netanyahu as a ‘disgraceful anti-Israel manoeuvre.’ Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called it ‘a day of victory for international law.’
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
But is it a really a victory? Experts argue that the resolution’s effects are primarily diplomatic and political and Netanyahu has already declared that Israel will not not abide by the terms of the resolution. While the resolution is a moral and symbolic victory for Palestinians, it seems unlikely there will be any impact on the ground.
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
Despite the passing of prior UN resolutions over the past decades, settlement expansion has only increased. When resolution 446 was adopted in 1979, the Jewish settlers in those territories numbered 12,500. Today, according to Peace Now, their number is nearing 400,000.
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
With US Secretary of State John Kerry describing Israeli settlements as "a recipe for permanent insurgency, permanent conflict," critics see Israel’s continued settlement expansion and apparent disregard for the UN resolutions as a major barrier to peace and a two-state solution.
Israel Palestine Settlement UN Resolution
The Ma’ale Adumim settlement embodies Kerry’s warning. Analysts believe the settlement is aimed at isolating East Jerusalem and disrupting the territorial contiguity between the north and south of the West Bank. This and other settlements undermine the prospect of a united Palestinian state with 1967 borders, leaving little hope for peace.

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