A senior White House aide blamed Israel for the passage of a UN resolution that condemns the country’s settlement building policy, despite President Barack Obama’s decision to abstain from the vote.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes pointed to Israel’s settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a key reason for the failure of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“And in that context, we therefore thought that we could not in good conscience veto a resolution that expressed concerns about the very trends that are eroding the foundation for a two-state solution,” Rhodes told reporters in a phone call Friday.
The Obama administration’s abstention effectively allowed the passage of the resolution. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the U.S. has veto power on any vote, and has had a long-standing policy of using it to protect Israel from similar resolutions in the past.
Rhodes said the administration was concerned with a significant increase in settlement activity since 2011, when it vetoed a separate UN resolution condemning settlements. He added that the administration was also concerned about Palestinian incitement for violence, which is also reportedly a part of the resolution.
Rhodes claimed the Obama administration used every option to push forward a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“We exhausted every effort to pursue a two-state solution through negotiations, through direct discussions, through proximity discussions, through confidence-building measures, through a lengthy and exhaustive effort undertaken by Secretary Kerry earlier in the President’s second term,” said Rhodes. “So within the absence of any meaningful peace process, as well as in the face of accelerated settlement activity that put at risk the viability of a two-state solution, that we took the decision that we did today to abstain on this resolution.”
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