UN resolution ending Israeli settlements garners mixed student reactions

UN resolution ending Israeli settlements garners mixed student reactions

A resolution denouncing Israeli settlement construction was approved by the UN Security Council after the Obama administration refused to veto the resolution which criticizes Israel and calls its settlement activity illegal, on Friday Dec. 23, 2016.

The Security Council adopted the resolution with a 14-0 vote, with the US abstaining.

The controversial resolution has students taking stances on the issue.

“I was saddened that the United States did not support our closest ally in the Middle East, but I was not outraged,” Amanda Samuels ’19, president of Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces club, said.

Samuels responded after becoming aware that the resolution stated that part of East Jerusalem, including Israel’s holiest site, The Western Wall, would no longer be considered part of Israel.

“I was stunned, disgusted, and very disappointed with the administration,” Samuels said.

Max Sussman ’18 is also disappointed by the vote but is not shocked.

“We [U.S.] let down our biggest ally in the Middle East by choosing to abstain. The Obama administration although supportive of Israel at times was not the most diplomatically friendly administration that we have had towards Israel,” Sussman said. “Being one of the only administrations in decades to not veto an anti-Israel resolution is not surprising.”

Thomas Moy ’17 had similar reactions to the resolution but took a more neutral stance.

“I thought it was another interesting part of Israel and Palestine’s history. They [Israel and Palestine] have been against each other for a long time and this is just another part of the story,” Moy said.

Secretary of State John Kerry explains the U.S. abstaining in the UN during a speech delivered at the Department of State on Dec. 28, 2016.

“The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors,” Kerry said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes the U.S. focus on settlements was “unbalanced”.

“This conflict is and always has been about Israel’s very right to exist,” Netanyahu said. “How can you make peace with someone who rejects your very existence?”

Samuels agrees with Netanyahu’s comment.

“The Palestinians have never recognized Israel as a legitimate country, and they reward the families of terrorists when Israeli citizens are killed,” Samuels said.

Following the UN vote, President-elect Trump defended Israel on Twitter.

“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” Trump wrote.

Students like Hallie Spear ’18 are questioning Trump’s involvement with the resolution.

“Trump overstepped his boundary trying to tell the Obama administration what to do because he is not the president yet, but the Obama administration took a strong and controversial stance condemning the settlements,” Spear said.

Netanyahu is supportive of the incoming Trump administration and hopes to eventually “repeal” the resolution.

“Israel looks forward to working with Trump to mitigate the damage this resolution has done and ultimately to repeal it. We hope the outgoing Obama administration will prevent any more damage,” Netanyahu said.