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US rebukes Israel and allows UN condemnation of settlements

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UNITED NATIONS — The United States has given its biggest rebuke in recent history to longstanding ally Israel, allowing the U.N. Security Council to condemn its settlements and continuing construction in Palestinian territory as a “flagrant violation” of international law.

Instead of casting a veto to support Israel, as it almost always does on council resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. abstained.

That gave a green light for the council to approve the resolution by a 14-0 vote with U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power abstaining, a move greeted with loud applause in the packed Security Council chamber.

The resolution says Israel’s settlements on Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have “no legal validity.” It demands a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities,” saying this “is essential for salvaging the two-state solution.”

President-elect Donald Trump commented, though cryptically, on the development.

“As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” he tweeted, referring to the date of his inauguration.