On December 23, 2016, the United Nations Security Council voted in support of a resolution calling on Israel to cease all settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, alongside demanding immediate steps to ‘prevent acts of violence against all civilians’. The resolution firmly recognises the legitimacy of Israel and reiterates the importance of urgently pursuing diplomatic efforts in order to achieve a ‘just and lasting peace’ in the region. The final text can be read in full here.
The entire Security Council, including the UK, voted in support of the resolution, with the exception of the USA, who made a bold decision not to exercise their power to veto it, ensuring it could pass. On Thursday, we wrote to Boris Johnson MP, the British Foreign Minister, asking the UK to back the vote on the basis that it presents an historic opportunity to put resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back at the top of the international agenda, where it is fast being overshadowed by other issues. Whilst the resolution highlights the damage ongoing settlement construction is doing to the prospects of reaching a political resolution based on two-states for two-peoples, it also provides balance by recognising that ceasing settlement building must go hand in hand with stopping acts of violence and terror.
We believe the settlements are gravely endangering the prospects of reaching a political resolution based on two-states for two-peoples and we support efforts to prevent their ongoing expansion. We know this is a view shared widely in our community. According to extensive academic research into British Jewish attitudes towards Israel conducted in 2015 by City University and Ipsos Mori, which was funded by Yachad, 75% of British Jews agree that ‘the expansion of settlements on the West Bank is a major obstacle to peace’. 68% of respondents went so far as to say that they agree with the statement ‘I feel a sense of despair every time Israel approves further ‘expansion of settlements’.
We believe that the UK has acted in Israel’s best long term interests and we are grateful for our government’s ongoing commitment to two-states for two peoples.