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The significance of Resolution 2334

Dec 27,2016 - Last updated at Dec 27,2016

On December 23, the United Nations Security Council passed an astounding resolution against Israel’s illegal measures in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, with particular focus on the settlements.

To everyone’s amazement, Resolution 2334 was adopted almost unanimously, with 14 council members voting in favour and the 15th, the US delegation abstaining.

The resolution fell like a bombshell on the Israeli government and its supporters for two reasons: the use of very strong and clear language; the fact that the US did not veto the resolution as it was expected to do, in line with an American tradition of vetoing such resolutions to protect Israel from any UN action.

At a time when Israel believed the settlements it has been illegally building on occupied Palestinian territories since 1967, as well as its other actions, in Jerusalem, in particular, had become established, accepted and irreversible facts on the ground, despite previous UN resolutions rejecting them, last week’s resolution shattered this smug conviction, not only by reaffirming all its relevant previous condemnations, dating back to 1967, but also by issuing this fresh categorical denunciation and stern rejection of all Israeli occupation measures and by ordering their immediate cessation.

Being “guided by the purposes and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations” and by “reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force” — a principle included in the 1967 Security Council Resolution 242 — Resolution 2334 annuls, in no uncertain terms, all the vague language that has been circulating for decades by the peace process industry about “territorial swap”, a euphemism for allowing Israel to annex the illegal settlements.

It annuls the many disastrous compromises meant to accommodate Israel’s theft of Palestinian land, such as the infamous Clinton Parameters, and all other unilateral Israeli unlawful actions, in Jerusalem in particular, since June 1967.

Most significantly, this radical UN resolution abrogates specific commitments made by US president George W. Bush in a letter he sent to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon on April 14, 2004, in which he states: “As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognised borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”

That was a US “Balfour-style” promise that ignored international law, contradicted the spirit and letter of previous UN Security Council resolutions approved by the US, and sought to appease the Israelis and reward their aggression at the expense of the legitimate Palestinian rights.

After “condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions”, the recent resolution reaffirms that such settlements, “including in East Jerusalem” have “no legal validity” and constitute “a flagrant violation of international law”.

Accordingly, and while the resolution reiterates “its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”, it also “underlines that it will not recognise any changes to the June 4, 1967, lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations”.

That simply and clearly means that if in the future the two sides engage in serious and fair negotiations, they may then agree to some reciprocal border alterations.

Under no circumstances should this qualification legitimise unilateral Israeli forced occupation actions committed in defiance of international law and in flagrant violation of Palestinian rights.

This indeed is very clear language that finally corrects the course of UN legal action after decades of deviation, ambiguity, unprincipled compromises, submission to aggression, duplicity and appeasement of the aggressor.

Here, the highest executive body of the UN organisation rules, in accordance with the provision of the UN Charter, that the occupation is illegal, settlements are illegal, the Israeli measures in the occupied territories are illegal and as such should be reversed, and justice to the Palestinians ought to be restored.

All those who rejected Security Council Resolution 2334, whether in Israel or in the US, were in fact opposing the rule of law, in favour of aggression, and in blatant violation of the very principles that the civilised world cherishes as the basis for peaceful and orderly international relations.

Israel is, and has been since its creation, in constant violation of international law. 

It never respected, and was never forced to respect, its international obligations, which apply to all other UN member states.

This privileged position that was mainly enabled by American protection was destined to come to an end.

Israel’s excesses, as well as its persistent defiance, including of positive advice from its most supportive American backers, led to the current Security Council action.

This resolution will have drastic consequences. It will mark a new era in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including a radical revision of all the failed efforts to address one of the most blatant injustices in recent history.

I wonder if the talk about moving the US embassy to Jerusalem will have any relevance under the new circumstances or, for that matter, the talk about supporting Israeli settlement projects.

Resolution 2334 also places all UN member states before their responsibilities, mainly to refrain from any policies that could be seen as indifferent to the resolution’s legal implications or as helping the occupying power.

The application of the international law is the responsibility of all civilised states committed to global security and peace.

Israel ignored UN resolutions in the past and the Israeli prime minister vowed not to abide by this one either. 


But the majority of UN member states may not demonstrate the same lenience they did in the past. This further explains Israel’s rage.

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