UN demands end to Israeli settlement building

The Obama administration abstained from the vote despite pressure from Israel and Donald Trump to veto the resolution

UN demands end to Israeli settlement building

UN Security Council. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The UN Security Council has passed a resolution demanding an end to Israel's settlement building on occupied territory.

Defying pressure from US President-elect Donald Trump, The Obama administration decided to abstain from the vote, facilitating the decision.

Sky News' US correspondent Greg Milam said it was "extremely unusual" because previous efforts to condemn Israel over settlements have failed because the US has historically vetoed resolutions.

The fact that the US has abstained will be "to the fury of many in Israel but also many in the United States," Milam said.

He added: "They see this as the Obama administration delivering something of a parting shot."

US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the Security Council that the US believes the settlements erode prospects for peace and stability in the region and said this position is longstanding.

She said: "The US has been sending the message that the settlements must stop, privately and publicly, for nearly five decades."

And she added: "Our vote today is fully in line with the bi-partisan history of how American presidents have approached both the issue and the role of this body."

The resolution was first tabled by Egypt, but the country withdrew it under pressure from Israel and Donald Trump.

It was then re-tabled by New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela.

After the vote Mr Trump tweeted: "As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th."

Palestinians called it "a day of victory" and a "big blow" to Israeli policy.

Presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said the resolution, adopted by a vote of 14 in favour, showed there was "strong support for the two-state solution."

The UK's permanent representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, welcomed the passing of the resolution and said it was a "clear reinforcement" of international belief in a two-state solution.