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Michigan Senators Peters and Stabenow both support the illegal Israeli Settlements in light of recent United Nations Security Council Vote

December 29, 2016

On the Friday before Christmas, the United Nations Security Council voted 14 – 0 to to condemn Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.326185_370

The resolution, which passed on December 23rd, demands that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard.

The United States, a permanent member of the UN Security Council abstained from voting.

Some people saw the US decision to abstain as a criticism against the illegal Israeli settlements, but with the US providing over $3 billion a year in aid to Israel, the decision to abstain was merely for show.

As usual, several members of the UN Security Council were pressured to vote against the resolution, since Israel was threatening to impose sanctions against the two countries that pushed for the resolution, New Zealand and Senegal

Michigan Senators continue unconditional support for Israel

The two Senators from Michigan, Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both released statements that continue to support Israel and condemn any criticism by the United Nations.

In a statement released just prior to the UN Security Council vote, Senator Peters said:screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-2-57-53-pm

“I am concerned that one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations would undermine any future efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the table. We need to focus on achieving a two-state solution that would bring peace and security to Israel and a future Palestinian state. The resolution currently being considered by the United Nations Security Council would mark a significant step backwards with respect to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian people, and I urge the Administration to do everything to ensure this resolution is not considered or adopted by the Security Council.”

Senator Stabenow waited until after the UN vote had taken place, but was clear in her displeasure with the vote.

“I strongly disagree with the United States’ abstention which allowed a one-sided resolution concerning Israel to be adopted. This resolution is not the way to achieve peace and undermines opportunities for direct negotiations.”

This kind of support from the Michigan Senators should come as no surprise. First, it is rare that any US politician at the federal level will speak out against Israel on any foreign policy matter. Secondly, Senator Peters has been a major recipient of pro-Israeli PAC money, following in the footsteps of former Senator Carl Levin, who was one of Israel’s biggest cheerleaders for decades

UN Resolution not really a call for justice

Founder and Editor of the online journal, The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah, wrote an important piece about this UN Security Council resolution, where he believes it will be detrimental to Palestinian rights. Unlike, the comments from Michigan Senators Peters and Stabenow, Abunimah makes the point that there have been plenty of previous UN Resolutions that have condemned Israeli settlements. The problem, Abunimah says, is that there is no enforcement mechanism that will actually challenge the Israelis to obey international law. mu_je_00_5

Abunimah goes on to say:

What is even more worrying is the rest of the resolution – read in whole, it is a clear attempt to legislate into international law the so-called two-state solution.

In September, I warned that a resolution of this kind would undermine, not support, Palestinian rights.

This draft does not contain a single reference to Palestinian rights, especially the right of return for refugees. It makes no mention of Gaza, which has been under a devastating and illegal Israeli siege for over a decade – a blockade enforced jointly with Egypt, the resolution’s sponsor.

Rather, it expresses “grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines,” as if two states, not restoring Palestinian rights, is an end in itself.

I have explained previously how the tricky phrase “based on the 1967 lines” is designed to allow Israel to annex its vast settlement blocs.

Take the older resolution I mentioned, 465 from 1980. It demands that Israel “dismantle the existing settlements” – all settlements built since the West Bank was occupied in 1967.

The draft now under consideration only calls on Israel to dismantle “all settlement outposts erected since March 2001” – the implication is that most of the existing settlements, particularly the large blocs, will remain forever.

So while being marketed as a move against settlements, this resolution lays the ground to legitimize them, albeit under the framework of a “negotiated” peace agreement.

Lastly, the UN Security Council Resolution is problematic, since it takes away the Palestinian right to resist, by stating:

that Palestinians have a duty effectively to police themselves on behalf of their occupiers by confiscating so-called “illegal weapons” and “dismantling terrorist capabilities” – Israeli-style language that demonizes an occupied people.

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