22 December 2011
Statement on Recent UN Sessions and the US Position
The General Delegation of the PLO to the US is encouraged by the latest positions of the international community with regards to the Palestinian right to self-determination and Israel’s illegal settlement policy.
On December 19th, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in support of the right of Palestinian to self-determination; 182 in favor, 3 abstentions, and 7 against. The next day, nine members of the Security Council voiced their opposition to Israel’s illegal settlement policy. Especially remarkable was the joint statement issued by the UK, France, Germany and Portugal describing Israel’s accelerating settlement activities as sending “a devastating message” to the prospects of a return to negotiations.
However, the General Delegation of the PLO to the US is concerned by the US position in these sessions. The US was one of only seven countries in opposition to the General Assembly resolution, while in the Security Council, the US refused to condemn Israel’s illegal settlement policy. Such outlier positions are making the US more isolated in the international arena.
Additionally, these positions are in direct opposition to long-standing US policies on Palestinian self-determination and the illegality of Israeli settlements. Unfortunately, this is not the first time the US contradicted its declared policy. On February 18th, 2011, it vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, despite the fact that its wording had copied US policy statements almost verbatim. In his speech to AIPAC’s Policy Conference on May 22nd this year, President Obama alluded to how the US is becoming more isolated in its positions. He cautioned that the context in the Middle East and the international community is changing rapidly and that the US is losing its credibility with the Arab masses – a group whose role in the region’s politics is growing every day. Therefore, such actions will contribute to eroding US leverage and its standing in the region and the world.
Finally, it is imperative here to dispel any confusion about the nature of talks on settlements. The negotiations were always meant to determine the fate of those settlements, not discuss their legitimacy. The illegality of Israeli settlements is uncontestable; it is a matter of international law. Moreover, Israel’s settlement activity seriously undermines the potential for the resumption of the political process. A sizable portion of the Israeli population as well as Jewish Americans oppose settlement activities. Hence, many questions are being raised over why the US is not being firm with Israel on the settlements issue.
The General Delegation of the PLO to the US urges the US administration to join the international community in supporting a meaningful right to self-determination for the Palestinians, and to firmly stand by its policy against Israel’s illegal settlement activities.