Palestinian Officials: U.S. Isolated Over Support of Israel Settlements

PLO delegation to the United States welcomes UN Security Council censure of West Bank construction, urges U.S. to join the international community's criticism.

The Palestinian delegation to the United States welcomed Thursday a statement by European nations criticizing Israel's policies, adding, however, that the United States' unwillingness to condemn Israeli settlement construction was isolating Washington in the international arena.

On Tuesday, fourteen members of the UN Security Council pointed a finger at the United States for blocking any condemnation of Israel's accelerated settlement construction in Palestinian territory.

Obama, Abbas - AP - 21.9.11

In a statement, the diplomats - including key U.S. allies in Europe – also criticized the council's failure to take action against escalating violence by Israeli settlers and urged a speedy resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The unexpected criticism from Israel's European allies brought an unprecedented Foreign Ministry response, with officials calling the statement an interference in Israel's internal affairs.

In a statement released by the PLO's delegation to the United States on Thursday, Palestinian officials said they were "encouraged by the latest positions of the international community with regards to the Palestinian right to self-determination and Israels illegal settlement policy."

"However, the General Delegation of the PLO to the U.S. is concerned by the U.S. position in these sessions," the statement added, indicating that the United States "was one of only seven countries in opposition to the General Assembly resolution, while in the Security Council, the U.S. refused to condemn Israels illegal settlement policy. Such outlier positions are making the U.S. more isolated in the international arena."

The statement culminated by urging Washington "to join the international community in supporting a meaningful right to self-determination for the Palestinians, and to firmly stand by its policy against Israels illegal settlement activities."

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland explained the U.S. possition, on Wednesday: "We declined to join that statement for all of the usual reasons. It doesnt change the fact that our longstanding policy remains that we dont recognize the legitimacy of the continued Israeli settlements, but we dont think statements in the UNSC are the way to pursue the goal of getting these parties back to the table."

Referring to the harsh Foreign Ministry response to the UNSC criticism, which called European detractors "irrelevant," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said earlier Thursday that "European countries are very relevant," adding, that "they stand with us in important times."

He added that the countries should be told they are mistaken, but Israel should continue cooperating with them and refrain from conflicts.