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U.S. vetoes UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Palestine

February 24th, 2011

While Democrats and Republicans are usually at loggerheads in most issues, they always seem to read from the same script when it comes to Israel.

It is little wonder, therefore, that the Obama administration went the way of many others by vetoing a U.N. resolution declaring Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank territory illegal and “a major obstacle to the achievement of a just and lasting peace.”

The veto was the Obama administration’s first on the U.N. Security Council and continues the trend of unequivocal U.S. support for Israel, bringing the number of total vetoes the U.S. has cast against resolutions critical of Israel to well over 50. The resolution was sponsored by 130 U.N. member states and supported by the remaining 14 voting members of the Security Council.

Arab states were swift to criticize the veto and accused the Obama administration of having the same hypocritical double-standards of previous American administrations. Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the region, specifically expressed “regret” over the veto.

It is believed that the U.S. tried in vain to persuade the Palestinian leadership not to bring the resolution to the Security Council in the first place.

Washington has justified the veto on the grounds that the resolution’s passing would complicate efforts to resume the stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a two-state peace resolution.

The very reason for the stalling of the peace talks is the hardline positions that both Israel and Palestine have taken in their view of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Palestine is seeking to halt the construction of more settlements so that peace talks can proceed in good faith.

For its part, the right wing Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to halt the construction of the settlements.

Analysts believe that the timing of the veto could not have been worse. Coming against the backdrop of the waves of populous revolutions against dictatorial regimes in the Middle East, the veto could damage the optimism that the Obama administration created when it took office and promised better relations with Muslim countries.

U.S. measured support for pro-democratic revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and its criticism of the brutality of security forces on demonstrators in Iran and Libya, contrasts sharply with its perceived complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinians’ human rights.

From their perspective, the Palestinian people continue to suffer under Israel’s brutal occupation more than what they have experienced under their authoritarian rulers. Beyond just portraying the U.S. in a bad light, the veto could have actual negative repercussions on other U.S. priorities in the region.

Already, the veto is providing momentum for Islamist forces in the region. The Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Sadrists in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon are using the veto to justify their anti-U.S. stances and to gain greater political clout.