U.S. Veto of UNSC Resolution Gives Israel a 'Green Light' to Continue to Expand Illegal Settlements in OPT

February 22, 2011

Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) issued a press release late Friday (2/18/2011) after the United States, a permanent member of the UN Security Council vetoed a UNSC resolution reaffirming that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal and demanding that Israel cease all settlement activities in the OPT, including East Jerusalem.

Amnesty believes the U.S. veto gives Israel a ‘green light’ to continue building settlements in the OPT. Israel welcomed the veto while Palestinians were disappointed, angry and frustrated saying the veto has set back the peace process.

The other 14 members of the UN Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, which was proposed by Lebanon and co-sponsored by some 120 countries.

“The US cannot credibly insist that it opposes Israel’s continuing settlement construction while vetoing a resolution that demands Israel fulfil its legal obligations, as well as its previous commitments to the Quartet and the US government,”

said T. Kumar, Amnesty International U.S.A. International Advocacy director.

“The Israeli government, which seeks to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, will interpret this veto as U.S. approval to do so, and conclude that it can escape international censure.”

“We are also concerned about the U.S. government attempts to pressure the Palestinian Authority not to bring this resolution to a vote. If the U.S. is serious about human rights and change in the Middle East, it should back the international consensus against Israeli settlement activity and the resulting human rights violations.”

Israel’s policy of settling its civilians on occupied land violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime, according to the statute of the International Criminal Court. Amnesty’s 2007 report ‘Israel and the Occupied Territories: Enduring Occupation – Palestinians Enduring Siege in the West Bank’ documents how these illegal settlements and their subsequent necessary infrastructure inherently result in discriminatory policies and in continuing violations of the rights to adequate housing, water, and livelihoods for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.