PA and Arab leaders submitted a request to the United Nations Security Council to vote Friday to condemn Israel for allowing Jews to build homes within Jewish cities in Judea and Samaria, but the US vetoed the resolution. All the other 14 members voted for the resolution, leading the PA to claim a diplomatic victory.
The Palestinian Authority also responded by saying that the United States has lost its role as broker and that the PA is now seeking the international condemnation of Israel from the UN General Assembly.
President Obama had attempted to prevent the PA from submitting the resolution to the Security Council in a phone call to PA head Mahmoud Abbas, but US suggestions for a compromoise were rejected.
The veto was not publicized before the Security Council meeting, leading to speculation that it might not happen. Sources in the Democratic party claim that major Jewish donors told Obama that they would stop funding the party if israel was condemned, leading him to make the decision to veto the resolution.
The resolution condemns construction for Judea and Samaria Jews as “illegal” and “a major obstacle to peace.” In addition, it would state that the UN is prepared to send envoys to the region “to examine the realities on the ground.” The PA and the Arab world claim Judea and Samaria as part of a future Arab state.
UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, said that the United States is against Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria and that the veto is an unhappy decision that was made to keep the door to negotiations open. She reportedly suggested to the PA that the Security Council issue a non-binding statement opposing construction, instead of a resolution.
Rice repeated U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's words on Thursday that a Security Council resolution was “not the right vehicle” for advancing the diplomatic process. Only negotiation could advance the peace process.
Judea and Samaria were home to both Arabs and Jews prior to the 1948 War of Independence. Following the war the areas were under Jordanian rule for 19 years, then were retaken by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Jews began making their way back to the region to live shortly afterward, beginning by resettling formerly Jewish towns such as Efrat and Hevron, then branching out to build new towns as well.
For the past several years, Jews have been permitted to build only within the limits of existing Israeli towns, meaning the total amount of land controlled by Israel within the region remains unchanged despite construction. However, the PA continues to claim that Israeli construction constitutes a land grab in the region.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu previously froze construction for Judea and Samaria Jews for 10 months, in a first-of-its-kind attempt to lure PA leaders to the negotiating table. PA leaders ignored his gesture for nine months, then agreed to negotiations only to drop out one month later over Netanyahu's refusal to extend the freeze.
Netanyahu later expressed willingness to announce a second freeze after U.S. officials promised that in exchange, Israel would not be pressured to sign a deal with the PA within three months, and would not be pushed into a third construction freeze. However, Clinton later informed Netanyahu that the promises had been offered without Obama's approval and in the end would not materialize, and the deal fell through.