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Netanyahu reduces diplomatic ties of countries supporting UN resolution

Dec. 27, 2016 7:13 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 6, 2017 8:01 P.M.)
A demonstrator waves the Palestinian flag outside British Prime Minister David Cameron's residence in London on September 9, 2015 � AFP JUSTIN TALLI
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly begun the process of limiting diplomatic relations with countries that had voted in favor of an anti-settlement resolution passed by the UN Security Council last week.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Netanyahu ordered Israel’s Foreign Ministry to limit diplomatic cooperation with countries that had voted in favor, as an senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Israeli ministers would be encouraged to limit travel, and to restrict the foreign ministers from visits to Israel.

While the foreign ministers would “not be received” at Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the Israeli ambassadors to these countries would continue their visits to the respective countries in order to maintain contact, Haaretz reported.

Spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry Emmanuel Nahshon clarified in a statement Tuesday afternoon that the "temporary" limitation in diplomatic activities was not a suspension, noting that measures also included recalling Israel's ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal.

The two states were responsible for putting forward the resolution along with Venezuela and Malaysia after Egypt rescinded its sponsorship of the resolution. Israel already did not hold diplomatic relations with Venezuela or Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Nahshon said that work contacts would be limited with the 10 relevent embassies in Israel.

Resolution 2334, which was passed after 14 member states voted in favor and the United States abstained from the vote, demands that Israel completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, while emphasizing that the establishment of settlements by Israel is a direct violation of international and holds no legal legitimacy.

Israeli leadership has reacted with outrage and defiance since the UNSC approved the resolution, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that Israel "would not abide by the terms" of the "shameful anti-Israel resolution," and reportedly summoned the ambassadors of the UN Security Council member states to personally reprimand each of them on Christmas day.

Days after the passing of the resolution, reports emerged that Israel’s Local Planning and Building Committee of the Jerusalem municipality was expected to approve some 5,600 housing units in East Jerusalem for illegal settlements, in direct defiance of the international community’s clear condemnation of Israel’s settlement construction at the UN.

The reports said that the committee will approve 2,600 housing units in the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo, 2,600 others in Givat HaMatos, and 400 units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement.

These approvals are in addition to plans for some 3,000 settler units that have been advanced since the start 2016, according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, including hundreds of existing units that were “retroactively legalized” after formerly being considered illegal under Israeli domestic law.

The number of settlers living in the occupied West Bank has increased from 281,100 in 2008 to 385,900 in 2015, excluding those residing in occupied East Jerusalem. The Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) estimates that between 500,000 and 600,000 Israeli settlers currently reside in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements.

Meanwhile, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday morning again called for the annexation of the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim as well as all of Area C in the West Bank -- the more than 60 percent of the territory currently under full Israeli military and civil control.

Maale Adumim, located just seven kilometers east of Jerusalem, is the third largest settlement in population size, that many Israelis consider it an Israeli city that would remain under Israeli control in any final status agreement reached with Palestinians as part of a two-state solution.

Human rights groups and international leaders have strongly condemned Israel’s settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, claiming it is a strategic maneuver to prevent the establishment of a contiguous, independent Palestinian state by changing the facts on the ground, while members of Israel's parliament have repeatedly come forward announcing their support for annexing Area C.

A recent report by human rights group B'Tselem argued that under the guise of a "temporary military occupation," Israel has been "using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area’s natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements," estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians from some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of lands in the occupied Palestinian territory over the years.

B’Tselem highlighted the “key role” of Israeli settlers in further isolating Palestinians from their lands, either through the establishment of outposts officially unrecognized by the Israeli government, or through the regular use of violence or threats of violence against Palestinians.

The movement of Israeli settlers taking over Palestinian land, and further displacing the local Palestinian population has been a "stable" Israeli policy since the takeover of the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967, B'Tselem reported, underscoring that all "Israeli legislative, legal, planning, funding, and defense bodies" have played an active role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.
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