NEW YORK, New York - The U.S. remained isolated in the international community two days after declaring Israeli settlements legal.
The only country to support the U.S. position so far has been Israel itself. In a regular monthly meeting of the UN Security CounciI on Wednesday, all fourteen other members outside the U.S. rejected the U.S. stance, insisting Israeli settlements are illegal and in contravention of international law.
Although not a member of the UNSC, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, swimming against the tie, told the Council the U.S. statement "rights a historical wrong."
While others decried the U.S. about-turn as "an obstance of peace," Ambassador Danon used to same term to label criticism of the U.S. position.
"When the international community tries to force its solutions, it achieves the opposite effect," Danon said. "When Palestinians see that their battles are being fought for them, why would they agree to come to the negotiating table where they would have to compromise?"
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour was critical. "We condemn this unlawful and irresponsible declaration. We consider it to be null legally, politically, historically and morally. It has no value," he said.
He described the U.S. move as the latest in a series of "provocative" and "irresponsible" steps taken by the U.S. that started with the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. In addition, the U.S. has attacked the definition of Palestinian refugees, ended support for UNRWA and acknowledged Israeli sovereignty on the Golan, he said.
He said the U.S. statement won't legalize the "colonial policies of Israel," including their annexation policy and their illegitimate settlements."One can't believe that the American voice today is a voice that supports peace," he said."He accused the U.S. of encouraging "Israel to continue with the annexation of our land."
"Our land is not a present that can be offered by the U.S. to the ambitions of Netanyahu, and the blood of our people is not a currency to be used in Israeli elections," Mansour said.
During the UNSC debate Danon thanked the U.S. for its change in policy. "Judea and Samaria are inseparable parts of the Jewish people's homeland. This is not a recent development or claim, but a historical truth that will never again be denied," he said. "The Pavlovian response of some European countries to Secretary Pompeo's announcement only further delays the chances of ending the conflict. The automatic support of some European countries for the Palestinians has resulted in a propaganda campaign that starts in New York and ends in Ramallah," he said.
"Let me be clear, Jewish communities are not an obstacle to peace!" he said
He pointed to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and noted in 2009, Israel agreed to a 10-month moratorium on settler housing starts.
"There are two obstacles to resolving the conflict, Danon said."The first is the Palestinian Authority's incitement against Israel and the Jewish people. We don't hear all members of this council saying so, because it puts blame on the PA instead of on Israel."
"The second real obstacle to peace is your attempt to determine the outcome of the negotiations before they have even started," he said. "Too many members of the international community have a habit of trying to alter the starting point of future negotiations. Perhaps this is done out of frustration that a solution to the conflict has not yet been reached."
"Such attempts run counter to signed agreements between Israel and the PA that were internationally endorsed," he said.
Prior to the meeting, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, and Poland reiterated their view in a joint statement designating "all settlement activity is illegal under international law."
The group of European nations called on Israel "to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power," saying such activity "erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace."
They also condemned "calls for a possible annexation of areas in the West Bank."
Cherith Norman Chalet, a deputy U.S. ambassador, read U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement which announced the change of U.S. policy.
Indonesia's Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, described the Pompeom statement as "irresponsible and provocative," adding it "incontrovertibly constitutes a de facto annexation and is a barrier to peace efforts based on the two-state solution."
At the conclusion of the meeting there was a private session involving members only.
Following this, Deputy German Ambassador Jurgen Shultz read a critical joint statement.
"Israeli settlement activities are illegal, erode the viability of the two-state solution and undermine the prospect for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace" as affirmed by the 2016 council resolution, the statement said.
The statement called on Israel to end all settlement activity and expressed concern at calls for possible annexation of areas in the West Bank.
Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi, the Arab representative on the council told reporters 14 countries agreed in the private session on the press statement.
He said one country objected. He did not name the country but clearly it would have been the United States.
Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, said he was grateful to the 14 council nations and their commitment to international law, saying that all 193 U.N. member nations are required to implement all Security Council resolutions, including on the illegality of all settlements.
In a response to Israel's Danon, Mansour sharply criticized "the nonsense on one delegation inside the chamber saying that you, the international community, if you abide by international law, you help the Palestinians not to come to negotiations."
"If we abandon international law, including Security Council resolutions, it will be the law of the jungle," he warned.
Regardless of any national policy declarations, Israeli settlement activities are "a flagrant violation under international law", the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said at the start of Wednesday's meeting.
Regretting the United States' announcement on Monday that it "no longer views settlements as inconsistent with international law," Mladenov told the 15-member Council that "the UN position remains unchanged."
He said the settlements are "a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace".
"Unilateral moves fuel anger and disillusionment and significantly undermine the prospects for establishing a contiguous and viable Palestinian State with Jerusalem as the future capital of both States," he said.