Bibi's response to UNGA vote: build more settlements!

November 30, 2012
Sarah Benton

In this posting reports of Israel’s reaction to the UNGA vote from 1] Al-Monitor, 2] Mondoweiss and 3] Ynet news.

November 2012, Map of tender for new settlements E. Jerusalem 

Israel, rattled by UN vote, announces new settlement building

By Laura Rozen, Al-Monitor/Back Channel blog
November 30, 2012

Israel on Friday announced that it will build 3,000 new settler homes including in a sensitive zone of East Jerusalem, a day after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to upgrade Palestine’s status in the world body.

“If the announcement is real and not simply a PR move for internal politics reasons, it should spur the Administration into action, as the United States has been adamant for many years, including in the Bush Administration, that Israel not build in E-1,” former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer told the Back Channel Friday.

The E1 strip of land connects Jerusalem and the settlement of Maaleh Adunim. Construction there “will create geographical continuity between the capital and its northern suburb, a move that the US and European countries have warned against,” Haaretz reported. Israeli settlements expert Daniel Seidemann has posted a map (above) of the project’s location.

“Revenge time,” Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn wrote on Twitter, explaining that in the Israeli leadership’s view, the Obama administration apparently did not do enough to dissuade Europe from voting for the Palestinian UN measure. So, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promoting settlement building in “E1, the most controversial settlement project.”

US officials said they would offer comment shortly.

“Make no mistake – building in E1 would do more than punish the Palestinians,” liberal J Street wrote on Twitter . “It would devastate prospects for a 2-state solution.”

Netanyahu also announced Friday that he would travel to Germany, to express unhappiness with Germany’s decision to abstain on the UN vote, rather than vote against it.

The only country in Europe that voted against the Palestinian UN measure was the Czech Republic.

In the final vote tally, 138 nations voted in favor of upgrading Palestine’s status at the UN to that of a non-member observer state, a status shared with the Vatican; 41 nations abstained, including the UK, Germany, and Australia; while only 9 nations voted against the measure. They were the United States, Israel, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Panama.

Israel responds to UN vote by approving 3,000 new settlement units and plans to build in strategic West Bank corridor

By Adam Horowitz, Mondoweiss
November 30, 2012

The Netanyahu government hasn’t wasted any time issuing a response to yesterday’s vote at the UN. The announcement that Israel plans to build in the E1 corridor is especially meaningful, because many see this stretch of land as the last hope for a contiguous Palestinian state under a two-state solution. This has been part of Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman’s plan since the beginning of their political partnership.

From Ynet:

Israel decided Thursday to approve the construction of an additional 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In addition, the planning procedures of thousands of additional housing units in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs will be furthered, including in the segment connecting Ma’ale Adumim with Jerusalem, known as the E1 project.

State officials said Israel was considering further moves in response to the United Nations General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as an observer state.

The decision was made by the government’s top nine ministers. A state official said the continuation of construction was done in accordance with the map of Israel’s strategic interests.

On the eve of the UN vote, the political echelon had planned to practice restraint over the Palestinian move, particularly so as not to make the world turn on Israel, but state officials said that in light of the talk of a diplomatic failure and the fact that the country is in the midst of an election campaign, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found it difficult to avoid a significant response.

Eventually, the prime minister decided to order a massive construction boom in settlements and Jerusalem neighborhoods located beyond the Green Line.

In earlier discussions on the proper Israeli response to the move, senior sources warned that a decision to build in the settlements would be interpreted by the international community as a measure of punishment against the Palestinians.

They suggested that Netanyahu wait so that the UN vote would not be linked to the decision to build in the settlements, but Netanyahu chose to respond immediately rather than wait.

Haaretz adds:

In the beginning of his term, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the Obama administration a commitment that Israel would not build in the area. Both of his predecessors, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, also promised the U.S. administration that Israel would not build in E1.

Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer told Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen, “If the announcement is real and not simply a PR move for internal politics reasons, it should spur the Administration into action, as the United States has been adamant for many years, including in the Bush Administration, that Israel not build in E-1.”

General Assembly recognizes Palestine as observer state

Overwhelming majority of UN member states okay resolution to upgrade Palestinian Authority’s status; 138 countries vote in favor, 41 abstain and nine oppose

By Yitzhak Benhorin, Ynet news
November 30, 2012

The General Assembly on Thursday approved a resolution granting Palestine non-member observer state at the United Nations. As many as 138 countries vote in favor of the bid; 41 abstained and nine voted against it.

The nine countries that voted against the resolution are: Israel, US, Canada, Czech Republic, Panama, Marshal Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau. Among the 41 countries that abstained were Britain, Germany, Holland, Australia, Poland and South Korea.

Earlier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the Assembly “to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine.”

Greeted with thunderous applause, he said that Palestine has come to the UN because it believes in peace.

Abbas opened his speech by commenting on Operation Pillar of Defense and denouncing Israel for killing many Palestinians and causing great damage to infrastructure in Gaza.

Referring to the “Nakba” events of 1948, he claimed that Israel committed modern ethnic cleansing.

The Palestinian president also rebuked Israel for failing to “save the peace process” and came out against military strikes and settler attacks. He accused Israel of colonizing Palestine and continuing its aggression.

Abbas claimed that the Palestinians did not come to the UN to de-legitimize “a country created here many years ago” or to further complicate the peace process, but to launch a last ditch attempt for peace.

He said that the Palestinians will not accept anything less than an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital on all territories occupied in 1967 and a solution to the refugee issue.

Israel’s UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, warned the General Assembly that “the Palestinians are turning their backs on peace” and that the UN can’t break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.

Prosor stated that “Israel is a nation that never hesitates to defend itself, but will always extend its hand for peace. Peace is a central value of Israeli society.”

He then said, “Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected. The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish State and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all.”

“None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it.

“The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through UN resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests. And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards. ”

Prosor accused Abbas of ignoring history with his remarks on November 29. “The truth is that 65 years ago today, the United Nations voted to partition the British Mandate into two states: a Jewish state, and an Arab state. Two states for two peoples.

“Israel accepted this plan. The Palestinians and Arab nations around us rejected it and launched a war of annihilation to throw the ‘Jews into the sea’. ”

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also addressed the Assembly and pledged Ankara’s support for the Palestine. “You are not alone and we shall not leave you on your own. We shall stand by you until you have an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

After the bid is approved, the UN will effectively recognize Palestine as a state but it will not be a UN member. Membership is granted only by the Security Council, where the US has veto power.

Nevertheless, the move opens the door for the PA to file suits against Israel in the International Court of Justice. Palestinians have been celebrating across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from noon.

Several hours prior to the meeting, Abbas and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki attended a UN event marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Abbas said in a statement that despite diminishing hopes and a worsening situation on the ground due to Israeli violations “we remain committed to the two-state solution and our hand remains extended in peace.”

He appealed on all nations to vote in favor of a UN resolution recognizing the state of Palestine as “an investment in peace.”

Reuters and AP contributed to this report

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