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UN Security Council passes resolution condemning Israeli settlements

The resolution passed by the UN Security Council on Friday is to be welcomed. The resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”. It  reaffirms the illegality of the settlements and their existence as a barrier to peace.

The passing of the resolution reaffirms the clear international consensus on settlements. Israel’s response to the resolution being passed despite intense diplomatic efforts on its part to prevent it, demonstrates how isolated it has become in the international  community. Its statement that it will ignore the resolution and withdraw its ambassador from New Zealand, the resolution’s sponsor, is evidence of a continuing contempt for international law and the views of the international community.

What is required now is action. This resolution simply reaffirms the long held position regarding the illegality of Israel’s settlements , destruction of Palestinian homes and forced displacement of Palestinians from their land. Indeed the resolution references ten resolutions previously passed by the Security Council along similar lines. It is time for the world to stop talking about Israel’s settlements as illegal and to start treating them as such.

UK Government support for the resolution was welcome and reaffirms the longstanding UK Government position regarding settlements. However,whilst the UK Government recognises Israeli settlements to be “illegal and a barrier to peace”, the UK continues to provide substantial support to settlements. Much of the Israeli agricultural produce sold in the UK is grown in illegal Israeli settlements and benefits from preferential trade agreements with the UK. Meanwhile, companies and charities registered in the UK do business in settlements, sending money in support of projects that expand and entrench Israeli domination.

The passing of the UNSCR should be a motor to the UK Government to fulfill its own responsibilities under international law and take action against settlements. PSC’s settlements campaign launched in 2016 calls for the following

  1. Commit to a thorough review of all UK financial relationships with Israeli settlements. Publish and promote a stronger set of guidelines to businesses and banks to ensure they have no trading, financial or investment links with settlements
  2. Ensure that settlements are excluded from all bilateral and multilateral arrangements between the UK and Israel.
  3. Ban the importation of settlement products to the UK.

Israel says it will ignore this resolution just as it has ignored the previous ones. If the UK government is truly committed to the search for peace and the upholding of international law then it must demonstrate this through action.