Israeli authorities gave the go-ahead for the construction of hundreds of new settlement sites in East Jerusalem Monday after a United Nations resolution condemned Israel over the issue.
The defiant move comes after the U.S. government did not veto the U.N. condemnation of Israeli settlements, a marked change in U.S. policy. The Obama administration affirmed the decision to abstain in the vote on the resolution, despite being able to defeat it with its veto power, saying that Israeli settlements “puts at risk the two-state solution, as does any continued incitement to violence.”
“Israel is a country with national pride, and we do not turn the other cheek,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the wake of the resolution. “This is a responsible, measured, and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the U.N. is unacceptable to us.”
President-elect Donald Trump more closely aligns with Netanyahu’s position, and lashed out at the U.N. in the wake of the vote.
Beyond approving more settlements, the Israeli government has cut diplomatic contact at the U.N. with countries that voted in favor of the resolution, and summoned the U.S. ambassador to Israel to admonish him.
Palestinian leaders immediately hailed the vote as a victory.
“Now we can talk about the boycott of all settlements, the companies that work with them, et cetera, and actually take legal action against them if they continue to work with them,” the foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority told Palestinian media.
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., even charged the Obama administration with orchestrating the vote. “The United States was actually behind that gang-up,” Dermer told CNN Sunday. He continued that the evidence of the Obama administration’s role would be presented to the Trump administration in due time.