Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa (C), apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, takes part in the Christmas Eve celebrations on December 24, 2016 outside the Church of the Nativity, revered as the site of Jesus Christ's birth, in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem. (AFP/Xinhua)
by Osama Radi, Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA/RAMALLAH, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- Friday's overwhelming vote in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in favor of a resolution that condemns Israeli settlement in the Palestinian territories was a great victory for the Palestinian diplomacy, according to analysts.
They believe that the new 2334 resolution, which gained 14 votes in favor and one sustained, during a UNSC special session held in New York, would encourage the Palestinians to go for another step forward to sue Israel at international courts and agencies.
The voting on the resolution was made upon the request of four member states; Venezuela, Senegal, Malaysia and New Zealand, just 24 hours after Egypt, which leads the Arabs group, suddenly decided to withdraw an anti-settlement resolution it intended to submit to the UN Security Council on Thursday.
"The vote in favor of the resolution is a victory to the Palestinian diplomatic policy and to the policy of President Mahmoud Abbas," said Nabil Abu Rdeinah, Palestinian presidential spokesperson, adding that "It empowers the vision of the two-state solution and condemns all the measures that Israel has introduced on the Palestinian lands."
Ahmed Rafiq Awad, the Ramallah-based political analyst and writer, told Xinhua that there is no doubt that the resolution "was a great diplomatic victory for the Palestinians, and was made amid a severe imbalance of power with Israel that has been going on for several years.
"The resolution is considered a historic victory for the Palestinians because it came after 37 years since the last resolution has been made by the UNSC against the Israeli settlement," said Awad, adding "the resolution also called on Israel to necessarily halt settlement."
The analyst also said that the overwhelming vote in the UNSC "means a lot for the Palestinians, because they don't have the proper tools for confronting settlements, but only through international agencies."
He said the Palestinians have wagered a lot on presenting the anti-settlement bit to the UNSC before current U.S. President Barack Obama leaves the White House. "I believe the Palestinians succeeded in this issue," he said.
The Israeli settlement construction is one of the major thorny issues in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and it was the main reason for halting the U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations that went on for nine months and stopped in April 2014.
Hani el-Masri, the Ramallah-based political analyst, told Xinhua the vote in favor of the resolution and the fact that the United States didn't veto it "indicates that the Palestinian cause is a just cause," adding "the resolution is politically and legally important, and the Palestinians can develop its future strategy on it."
"The Palestinian future strategy must depend on various angels based on changing the track of struggle," said al-Masri, adding "the Palestinian struggle should also continue with all means against settlement."
The Palestinians had repeatedly asserted that the current Israeli settlement activities would undermine the U.S.-backed two-state vision and make it useless. They also declared that the ongoing settlement would encourage Israel to annex the West Bank in the future.
Settlement and its expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have besieged the Palestinians and kept them living in isolated cantons. Israel is controlling around 60 percent of the territory and there are near 500 settlement posts and military bases, according to official Palestinian figures.
The resolution may not have immediate practical ramifications, but it could open the door to lawsuits against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and for sanctions to be imposed on Israel -- both by the UN and by individual countries.
In April 2015, Palestine officially became a full member in the ICC, and the Palestinians moved the file of Israeli settlement expansion to the court. The UNSC resolution would encourage the Palestinians to knock the doors of the ICC again.
Sallah Abdul Aatti, a Gaza-based analyst and rights activist, told Xinhua that the UNSC resolution "is an exceptional aid to the Palestinian efforts to sue Israel in the international court to force it to stop or freeze its settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
However, he said that although the resolution "is great and encouraging, but it didn't put a mechanism or a timetable for freezing Israeli settlement," adding "instead, the Security Council brought the question back to the bilateral negotiations and implement the roadmap peace plan to deal with the issue."
Abdul Aatti also noted that the resolution didn't include the seventh provision that calls for imposing economic sanctions on Israel, adding that the resolution is non-binding for Israel.
"I believe that the UNSC resolution was a tactic more than being an applicable resolution," said the Gaza analyst, adding "the international community is still wanting to give the conflicting parties in the Middle East another opportunity for resuming the stalled peace process."