UN Security Council Resolution 2334 Condemns Israel’s Illegal Settlements, Justifies Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

On December 23, 2016, the UN Security Council passed UN Resolution 2334 condemning Israel’s illegal settlements, currently home to over 600,000 Jewish settlers.  The resolution is an affirmation of international law, and the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years. Although not legally binding, it is nonetheless important measure. UN 2334 works in tandem with grassroots organizing by the international community supporting the non-violent Palestinian-led call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions until Israel complies with international law—a movement MLA Members for Justice in Palestine seek to support with an academic boycott resolution that will be presented foscreen-shot-2016-12-28-at-2-38-39-amr a vote this January at the Delegate Assembly.

The resolution demanding a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities” was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal. This happened a day after Egypt withdrew the resolution, under pressure from Israel and US president-elect Donald Trump, who called for the US to veto the measure. The resolution was adopted with 14 votes in favor, and an abstention from the United States. As reported in Al Jazeera, “The United States’ abstention was the biggest rebuke in recent history to long-standing ally Israel, allowing the Security Council to condemn its settlements and continuing construction in Palestinian territory as a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law.”

In Jadaliyya, Ardi Imseis offers an analysis of the resolution that outlines what it can and cannot do, and its potential importance. In this assessment, Imseis underlines ways the resolution complements the work of BDS: “[T]he resolution offers a first in calling “upon all States . . . to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” This is important, for it affirms the Council’s view that third States should remain aware that their bilateral relations with Israel—political, civil, economic, social, cultural—cannot continue as usual. For far too long, Israel has been able to weather the occasional diplomatic and public relations fallout from its illegal and immoral policies in the OPT, knowing that this will result in little actual change in bilateral engagement with influential policymakers and business people in third States. This call by the Council therefore signals a shift with potential implications that can theoretically result in more robust legal, economic and political sanction of Israel abroad, including through measures encouraged by the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.”

Responses in Israel indicate the power and importance of the resolution. As reported in the Guardian, the move was immediately condemned as “shameful” by the office of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.This article also includes responses from those critical of Netanyahu’s “diplomacy,” including columnist Chemi Shalev’s assessment that “Resolution 2334 shatters the [Israeli] government-induced illusion that the settlement project has been normalised, that it passed the point of no return, that it is now a fait accompli that will remain unchallenged.”

In an editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, journalist Gideon Levy calls UN Resolution 2334  “a gust of good news, a breath of hope in the sea of darkness and despair of recent years.” Gideon also states, “Resolution 2334 is meant above all for Israeli ears, like an alarm clock that makes sure to wake you up on time, like a siren that tells you to go down to the bomb shelter.” This wake-up call, like the MLA Boycott resolution, offers a non-violent and powerful way to contest Israel’s human rights violations. As we enter a new year, the MLA Boycott resolution affords MLA members an opportunity to insist that Palestinians be afforded their human rights, including the right to education and academic freedom.