Press release

US veto of UN resolution on Israeli settlements is deeply regrettable

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Monday, 21 February, 2011
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Desmond Tutu: Middle East peace process must be restarted along new, fairer linesThe Elders express concern about the United States' decision to veto a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian Territories, and fear that this failure to take a principled stance will prove detrimental to the peace process.

The decision of the United States to veto a UN resolution condemning continuing Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian Territories is deeply regrettable.

With its vote in the Security Council on Friday, the United States chose to ignore previous agreements, UN resolutions and principles of human rights and international law. Its action stands in contrast to growing calls for freedom, justice and basic human rights echoing today around the Middle East and Maghreb region.

If there is one clear lesson that has emerged from the ongoing protests in the region, it is that the double standards and exceptionalism that have been applied to the Middle East for too long must be discarded.

The US has defended its decision to stand alone in the Security Council against all the other 14 members on the grounds that the resolution would not facilitate a return to direct negotiations between the parties – and thus, by implication, realisation of the two-state solution. The Elders strongly believe that the overwhelming weight of evidence points to the opposite conclusion. Only a principled stance by the entire international community is likely to bring about a just and secure peace for all Israelis and Palestinians.

Over the past two decades the peace process has generated few results and now appears to be in serious difficulty. Meanwhile, Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have steadily expanded over the same period.

The right of the state of Israel to exist is not in dispute and the Elders condemn those who seek to delegitimise it. Tragically though, Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the world community.

Desmond Tutu 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chair of The Elders said:

“The US decision to veto a UN resolution that largely restated Washington's own policy on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlement building is scandalous. It seems that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United States is not prepared to apply principles of human rights and respect for international law.

“With a heavy heart I have to conclude that this decision will do nothing to further a peace process that must urgently be restarted along new, fairer lines.”

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