Settlements are biggest barrier to peace process

EDITORIAL

A year of sweeping political changes and surprises has come up with one more controversy as it draws to an end, New Zealand being a co-sponsor of the United Nations resolution to halt all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

New Zealand joined three other UN Security Council members to co-sponsor the resolution which harshly criticised the building of settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It was carried by 14 votes to nil, drawing applause.

It only succeeded because the United States, which has traditionally used its veto to block resolutions of this kind, instead abstained, breaking a 38-year deadlock. This provoked a furious response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who accused the US of covertly engineering the vote and it has led to a clash between the outgoing and incoming US administrations.

In a major speech today outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry has defended the US policy of seeking a two-state solution and has also been strongly critical of Israel.

President-elect Donald Trump has told Israel to be strong and wait for his inauguration on January 20. His administration is almost certain to ignore the UN resolution. Netanyahu has withdrawn his ambassador from Wellington and temporarily broken all ties with the council members who supported the resolution.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says Israel knew Wellington’s position before the vote, although he will not release details of the phone conversation. McCully says New Zealand has been open about its view that the Security Council should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position New Zealand adopted is totally in line with our long-established policy on the Palestinian question.

The existence of the settle-ments is the biggest single barrier to the Middle East peace process, and Israel’s plan to extend them has added fuel to the fire.

The peace process has stumbled along since 1978 and prospects for a just and lasting final outcome are no brighter now — in fact even less so.

A year of sweeping political changes and surprises has come up with one more controversy as it draws to an end, New Zealand being a co-sponsor of the United Nations resolution to halt all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

New Zealand joined three other UN Security Council members to co-sponsor the resolution which harshly criticised the building of settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It was carried by 14 votes to nil, drawing applause.

It only succeeded because the United States, which has traditionally used its veto to block resolutions of this kind, instead abstained, breaking a 38-year deadlock. This provoked a furious response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who accused the US of covertly engineering the vote and it has led to a clash between the outgoing and incoming US administrations.

In a major speech today outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry has defended the US policy of seeking a two-state solution and has also been strongly critical of Israel.

President-elect Donald Trump has told Israel to be strong and wait for his inauguration on January 20. His administration is almost certain to ignore the UN resolution. Netanyahu has withdrawn his ambassador from Wellington and temporarily broken all ties with the council members who supported the resolution.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says Israel knew Wellington’s position before the vote, although he will not release details of the phone conversation. McCully says New Zealand has been open about its view that the Security Council should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position New Zealand adopted is totally in line with our long-established policy on the Palestinian question.

The existence of the settle-ments is the biggest single barrier to the Middle East peace process, and Israel’s plan to extend them has added fuel to the fire.

The peace process has stumbled along since 1978 and prospects for a just and lasting final outcome are no brighter now — in fact even less so.

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lloyd gretton - 2 years ago
A good editorial. You might have added the settlements also are the biggest barrier to ending international terrorism. Moslems all over world watch and read Arab language media which simply regards Zionists as today's Nazis. It kind of obsesses them like you would be if your neighbour kept, despite warnings, encroaching on your property.

John Fricker - 2 years ago
I think you may find that Palestinian terrorist activities have a bigger impact on the peace process when you take a less superficial look at the situation.

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