'U.K. to Consider UN Censure of Israel's West Bank Settlements'

Comment by Foreign Office official comes as dovish advocacy group J Street voices support for the recently submitted draft resolution; Americans for Peace now urge Obama to refrain from vetoing the move.

The United Kingdom would consider support of UN condemnation of Israeli settlements, a Foreign Office official told the Palestinian Ma'an news agency on Thursday, as several left-leaning U.S. groups urged Washington not to veto the effort.

UN headquarters AP October 12, 2010

Arab nations on Wednesday submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with diplomats saying that a vote on it is not expected any time soon because of a likely U.S. veto.

The point of the resolution, diplomats say, is to highlight Washington's isolated position on the Security Council, show the Palestinian population that the Palestinian Authority is taking action, and to pressure Israel and the United States on the settlement issue.

Speaking with reporters during a visit to Jordan on Thursday, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said the U.K. would "consider any draft resolution carefully adding that "anything that is a hurdle, or a barrier to be cleared, is not particularly helpful. Weve said that in relation to the settlements."

Also referring to the possible UN condemnation of Israel's settlement activities, dovish U.S. advocacy group J Street said that "as a pro-Israel organization and as Americans, we advocate for what we believe to be in the long-term interests of the state of Israel and of the United States"."

"Ongoing settlement expansion runs counter to the interests of both countries and against commitments Israel itself has made," a J Street statement said.

The J Street statement added that the draft UN resolution "introduced in the United Nations Security Council this week condemns Israels ongoing settlement activity and calls on both parties to continue negotiating final status issues in an effort to resolve the conflict in the short term," adding that those were "sentiments that we share and that we believe a majority of Jewish Americans and friends of Israel share."

"While we hope never to see the state of Israel publicly taken to task by the United Nations, we cannot support a U.S. veto of a Resolution that closely tracks long-standing American policy and that appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy," J Street added.

Also commenting on the possible UN condemnation of settlement activities, Americans for Peace Now urged the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to avoid vetoing the resolution, saying that it was "indefensible that the Netanyahu government, heedless of the damage settlement activity does to Israel's own interests and indifferent to the Obama Administration's peace efforts, has not only refused to halt settlement activity but has opened the floodgates, including in the most sensitive areas of East Jerusalem. In this context, the move by the United Nations Security Council to censure Israel's settlement activity should surprise no one."

"Given this context and content, APN calls on the Obama Administration to not veto this resolution in its current form," the rights group added, saying that "vetoing this resolution would conflict with four decades of U.S. policy. It would contribute to the dangerously naive view that Israeli settlement policies do no lasting harm to Israel. "

"And it would send a message to the world that the U.S. is not only acquiescing to Israel's actions, but is implicitly supporting them," the statement said.