ZOA Praises U.S. Veto Of U.N. Res. Falsely Condemning ‘Settlements’ As “Illegal,” Criticizes Obama Claiming They’re “Illegitimate”
February 22, 2011


UN can’t override Oslo II – PA agreed to Jewish communities under Israeli control





The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised the Obama Administration’s vetoing a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution, supported by Arab states, falsely condemning Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as being “illegal,” but has criticized the Obama Administration’s prior efforts to secure the agreement of the Arab states to a different resolution, which it would have supported, condemning these communities as “illegitimate.” According to reports, the Obama Administration was also prepared to consider supporting an UNSC visit to the Middle East, the first since 1979, and commit to supporting strong language criticizing Israel’s settlement policies in a future statement by the Middle East Quartet (Colum Lynch, ‘In sharp reversal, U.S. agrees to rebuke Israel in Security Council,’ Foreign Policy, February 16, 2011).


The ZOA has noted that Judea and Samaria are unallocated territory under international law, that Jews have every right to live and build communities there and that the UN cannot annul this fact by a resolution based on the falsehood that Jews cannot live there. The ZOA is also highly critical of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice’s subsequent statement in which she falsely claimed that Israeli “settlement activity” had “undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region,” thereby blaming Israel for the war waged by Arab regimes upon Israel under this pretext.


The ZOA has pointed out that, under both international law and the terms of past Oslo agreements, Israel is entirely within its rights to have its citizens live and build in these territories and that both the resolution the U.S. sought to have adopted and the one it vetoed attempt to rewrite history and international law.


Judea and Samaria are unallocated territory under international law and no Arab state has had legal sovereignty over it. The right of Jews to live there is affirmed in numerous international documents from the 1920 San Remo Conference onwards and was never extinguished by any subsequent, legally binding international agreement. Judea and Samaria were illegally occupied by an aggressor, Jordan, in 1948. Jordan’s annexation of these territories was never recognized by the UN or internationally, except by Britain and Pakistan. Israel in turn conquered these territories from Jordan in a war of self-defense and in which Jordan had attacked Israel. In 1988, Jordan itself renounced its baseless claim to these territories. No illegality attaches to Jews living and building homes and communities in Judea and Samaria.


Moreover, under the Oslo II agreement, it was specifically stated in Chapter 3, Article 17 that the Jewish communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza would remain under Israeli jurisdiction, pending a final peace agreement. In other words, the PA itself has signed a legally binding agreement that explicitly accepts the existence of Jewish communities under Israeli control. If the Obama Administration regards these communities as ‘illegitimate,’ that is merely an opinion and a groundless one – it is not law and it is not an opinion Israel is obliged to accept.


The ZOA has also pointed out that Ambassador Rice, in her explanation of the vote, did not criticize Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) – which has received almost $1 billion in U.S. funding in the past year – and the Arab states for attempting to falsely condemn Jewish communities in the territories as illegal and for refusing to withdraw their resolution, indicating that the PA and Arab states may foster lies and extremism without incurring penalty from the U.S.


In explanation of the U.S. veto, Ambassador Rice said, “Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace … Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations and, if and when they did resume, to return to the Security Council whenever they reach an impasse … While we agree with our fellow Council members—and indeed, with the wider world—about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution” (Susan E. Rice, ‘Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the Resolution on the Situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine, in the Security Council Chamber,’ February 18, 2011).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Naturally, the ZOA is pleased that a vicious, false, baseless, anti-Israel, anti-peace resolution sponsored by the Arab states was vetoed by the Obama Administration. We naturally applaud it for casting this veto. Regrettably, however, we must strongly criticize it for working hard beforehand to secure Arab agreement to another only somewhat less vicious, false, baseless, anti-Israel, anti-peace resolution which it would have supported.


Let there be no mistake – had Mahmoud Abbas’ PA and Arab governments not been so intransigent and demanded a flat-earth condemnation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as being ‘illegal,’ it is clear that President Obama would have supported a perverse resolution condemning Israel with the support of the Arab lynch mob. In these circumstances, it is clear that the Obama Administration acted in this way only because it found the Arab resolution too extreme, not because it disagreed with the general idea behind it – and we accordingly criticize it strongly on these grounds. ZOA deeply regrets that the Obama Administration publicly regretted vetoing this resolution.


“We take particular exception to Ambassador Rice’s false claim that ‘Israeli settlement activity’ has ‘undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.’ This is not only wrong, it libels Israel while providing an inexcusable alibi for Palestinian and Arab hostility.


“‘Peace and stability’ are absent because the PA, most Palestinians and most Arabs generally refuse to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state and support efforts, including terrorist ones, to eliminate Israel and transform it into an Arab-dominated state.


“‘Trust’ has been ‘devastated,’ not by Jews building homes and productive communities in Judea and Samaria, which it never undertook not to do, but by the PA never fulfilling its signed commitments under the Oslo agreements to arrest terrorists, disband terrorist groups and end the incitement to hatred and murder within the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terror and war.


“Hopes for peace have been ‘corroded’ because foreign governments, including the U.S., have not held the PA and Arab states accountable for sponsoring terrorist groups and inculcating a culture of hatred, jihad terrorism, ‘martyrdom’ and other forms of demonization and incitement against Israel, which they are obligated under successive signed agreements to cease. And while the Obama Administration is willing to publicly condemn Israel for building Jewish homes, Ambassador Rice would not explicitly criticize the Palestinians and Arab states for insisting on their own vicious resolution and refusing to withdraw it.


“To blame legal, peaceful Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria for a war initiated and sustained by Arab and Muslim belligerence is a odious, cynical libel which the Obama Administration should repudiate, not condone or, worse, attempt to advance.


“We take this opportunity to praise U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, for her strong statement ahead of the vote that ‘Support for this anti-Israel statement [which the Obama Administration wanted to support, condemning Jewish communities as illegitimate] is a major concession to enemies of the Jewish State and other free democracies. It telegraphs that the U.S. can be bullied into abandoning critical democratic allies and core U.S. principles … Palestinian leaders refuse to negotiate directly with Israel, while Israel has made unprecedented concessions and continues to repeatedly offer to negotiate anywhere, anytime. Responsible nations should be heralding Israel’s commitment to achieving peace and security, not giving credence to the relentless campaigns by anti-democratic forces to deny that commitment. Offering to criticize our closest ally at the UN isn’t leadership, it’s unacceptable.’


“We also praise Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and five fellow senior Members of Congress – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer; Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Howard L. Berman; and U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot and Gary L. Ackerman, the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia – for their bipartisan letter to President Obama, requesting that the Administration veto the UN Security Council draft resolution criticizing Israel and calling on the President to hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for their actions that undermine opportunities for peace and security.”

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