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Israel strikes back after UN settlement vote, Pope Francis hopes for peace

Israel on Sunday summoned representatives of states that supported a UN resolution demanding it halt settlement activity, while cutting civilian coordination with Palestinians by way of rebuke.

Foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the 14 envoys of UN Security Council members will visit the ministry in Jerusalem throughout the day.

The Council passed the measure Friday after the United States abstained, enabling the adoption of the first resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy. The US envoy was not summoned.

The resolution demands “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”

It says settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had rejected the resolution as a “shameful blow against Israel,” repeated on Sunday the Israeli claim that US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were behind the resolution.

“We have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated the drafts and demanded to pass it,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“This is of course in total contradiction to the traditional American policy of not trying to impose conditions of a final resolution,” Netanyahu said, “and of course the explicit commitment of President Obama himself in 2011 to avoid such measures.”

The resolution contains no sanctions, Israeli officials are concerned it could widen the possibility of prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

They are also worried it could encourage some countries to impose sanctions against Israeli settlers and goods produced in the settlements.

Earlier on Sunday, army radio reported that Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the Israeli security establishment to cease to all cooperation on civilian matters with the Palestinians, while retaining security coordination.

Israeli officials refused to comment on the report.

The measures taken Sunday join Netanyahu’s order to review engagements at the United Nations, including funding for UN agencies and the presence of UN representatives in Israel.

Rightwing Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Saturday night that Israel should “announce a full annexation of settlement blocs” in response to the resolution.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home told army radio that his party would “soon propose a bill to annex Maale Adumim,” a settlement city east of Jerusalem.
Israelis, Palestinians must ‘write new page of history’: pope

Pope Francis on Sunday hoped for peace between Israelis and Palestinians as he gave his Christmas address, urging the two sides to “write a new page of history”.
Pope Francis waves from the balcony of St Peter’s basilica.

“Peace to women and men of the beloved Holy Land, the land chosen and favoured by God,” the pontiff told crowds at the Vatican in his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and The World) message.

“May Israelis and Palestinians have the courage and the determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony.“

courtesy : dawn news

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