The Latest: UN chief says settlement vote 'significant step'

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Posted: Dec 23, 2016 7:03 PM
The Latest: UN chief says settlement vote 'significant step'

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The latest on the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of Israeli settlements (all times local):

7 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements and demanding an immediate end to new construction "a significant step" to reconfirm the vision of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

The U.N. chief said Friday's 14-0 vote, with the United States abstaining, demonstrates the Security Council's "much needed leadership and the international community's collective efforts" that are critical to demonstrate a two-state solution where Israel and the Palestinians live side by side in peace "is still achievable."

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric says Ban is encouraging Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work with the international community "to create a conducive environment for a return to meaningful negotiations."

Dujarric says the United Nations is ready to support efforts to reach this goal.

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6:45 p.m.

The Palestinian U.N. ambassador says the Security Council resolution condemning Israel's settlements "is significant after years of paralysis" and a step toward addressing "a 70-year open wound" that has prevented peace and stability in the region.

Riyad Mansour told the council after Friday's 14-0 vote, with the United States abstaining, that Israel's settlements and its separation wall "have severely fragmented our land, undermined its contiguity, and isolated east Jerusalem," which the Palestinians want as the capital of an independent state.

He said urgent steps are needed now "to reverse the dangerous, negative trends on the ground and to advance our collective efforts to end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967."

The resolution demands an immediate halt to Israeli settlement building, and Mansour says that will require "vigilant follow-up if it is to be meaningful, to stem further deterioration and salvage the two-state solution from relegation to history's archives."

He urged the council to "stand firm by this decision" and "not be cowed by negative threats or spin."

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6:15 p.m.

Israel's U.N. ambassador is calling the Security Council's vote condemning the country's settlements in Palestinian territory "a victory for terror" and warning that it will not lead to peace.

Danny Danon told the council after Friday's 14-0 vote with the U.S. abstaining that the resolution was full of "lies" and will be added "to the long and shameful list of anti-Israel U.N. resolutions."

In the ambassador's words: "By voting 'yes' in favor of this resolution, you have in fact voted 'no'. You voted 'no' to negotiations. You voted 'no' to progress, and a chance for better lives for Israelis and Palestinians. And you voted 'no' to the possibility of peace."

Danon says the council is "sending a message to the Palestinians that they should continue on the path of terrorism and incitement."

He is urging incoming U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make clear to the Palestinians that the only way forward is "to end incitement and terror and to enter meaningful negotiations with Israel." Guterres takes office Jan. 1.

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5:45 p.m.

Israel's prime minister is taking diplomatic action against the countries that co-sponsored a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced the steps early Saturday a few hours after the United States broke with past practice and chose not to veto the measure.

Netanyahu ordered Israel's ambassadors in New Zealand and Senegal to immediately return home for consultations. He also instructed the Foreign Ministry to end all aid programs for Senegal and to cancel a planned visit to Israel by the Senegalese foreign minister.

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3:45 p.m.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power says the Obama administration was delivering the same message that his Republican and Democratic predecessors have been sending for nearly five decades when it allowed the U.N. Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements as "a flagrant violation" of international law — that Israel must stop building settlements.

Power told the council after its 14-0 vote, with the U.S. abstaining, that then Republican president Ronald Reagan said in 1982: "The United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements..."

She said "President Reagan's words highlight the United States' longstanding position that Israel settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 undermines Israel's security, harms the viability of a negotiated two-state outcome, and erodes prospects for peace and stability in the region."

She noted that since 1967, the only U.S. president who had not had at least one Israeli-Palestinian-related Security Council resolution passed during his tenure was Barack Obama.

"So our vote today is fully in line with the bipartisan history of how American presidents have approached both the issue and the role of this body," Power said.

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3:30 p.m.

Donald Trump is reacting to a decision by the United States mission to the United Nations to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The president-elect took to Twitter following the U.N. Security Council vote Friday saying, briefly, "As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th."

Trump didn't elaborate, however the move by the Obama administration brushes aside Trump's demands that the U.S. exercise its veto and provided a climax to years of icy relations with Israel's leadership.

Trump told The Associated Press last December that he wanted to be "very neutral" on Israel-Palestinian issues. But his tone became decidedly more pro-Israel as the campaign progressed. He has spoken disparagingly of Palestinians, saying they have been "taken over" by or are condoning militant groups.

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2:30 p.m.

The United States has given its biggest rebuke in recent history to longstanding ally Israel, allowing the U.N. Security Council to condemn its settlements and continuing construction in Palestinian territory as a "flagrant violation" of international law.

Instead of casting a veto to support Israel, as it almost always does on council resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. abstained.

That gave a green light for the council to approve the resolution by a 14-0 vote with U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power abstaining, a move greeted with loud applause in the packed Security Council chamber.

The resolution says Israel's settlements on Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have "no legal validity." It demands a halt to "all Israeli settlement activities," saying this "is essential for salvaging the two-state solution."

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12:05 p.m.

The Palestinian mission to the United Nations says the Security Council will vote Friday on a resolution condemning Israel's settlement construction, now sponsored by New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela.

The mission said the vote would take place Friday but no time has been set.

Egypt, the Arab representative on the Security Council, initially circulated the resolution and called for a vote Thursday but indefinitely postponed the vote.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has not criticized Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and has announced he will nominate a pro-settlement ambassador, spoke to Egypt's president early Friday, after the postponement was announced.

The U.S., along with the Palestinians and nearly all of the international community, opposes Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as obstacles to peace.

All eyes will be on the U.S. vote on Friday — whether the Obama administration abstains or vetoes the resolution.