Amnesty says US veto undermines stance on settlements 23Feb11 February 24, 2011

Ma’an News Agency -  23 February 2011

Amnesty International condemned Tuesday, the US decision to use its veto on a draft resolution seeking condemnation of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The US veto “effectively gives Israel a ‘green light’ to expand illegal settlements,” a statement from the international rights organization said, and criticized American statements saying that despite the veto, the country remained opposed to settlement construction.

During the debate on resolution, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the country “reject[s] in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity” but justified the use of the American veto saying the resolution would not “move the parties closer to negotiations and an agreement” and risked “hardening the positions of both sides.”

In its statement, Amnesty said the US veto “seriously undermines the US government’s claims to oppose Israel’s ongoing settlement construction.”

Citing several plans for settlement construction that have been OK’d in the past months, Amnesty said it was “concerned that the Israeli government will interpret this US veto as a ‘green light’ for these plans and conclude that it can escape meaningful international censure.”

The statement noted that 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.

“Reported US government attempts to pressure the Palestinian Authority not to bring this resolution to a vote at the UN Security Council, including threats to cut US aid, are also troubling. If the Obama administration is serious about promoting a lasting, just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it should fully back the international consensus against Israel’s illegal settlements and the human rights violations that result from them,” the statement concluded.

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