The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one that powerfully divides the international community. Of those living within the state of Israel, Pew Research data shows that they are often deeply divided based on religious affiliation. Not surprisingly, those divisions extend into how they view the peace process, West Bank settlements and U.S. support. Although the conflict is portrayed as a battle between religious groups, it can be more fairly assessed as two nationalistic groups competing for land. Broadly speaking, the Muslim world has sided with the Palestinians, and the U.S. and its NATO allies have defended Israel. In the United Nation’s Security Council, the United States’ veto power has been use to strike down resolutions that would condemn Israeli settlement in the militarily occupied lands of the West Bank. The 2016 UN resolution that passed 14-0 (with only the U.S. abstaining) says that Israel’s settlements on Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have “no legal validity” and demands a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities,” saying this “is essential for salvaging the two-state solution.”
These settlements are considered by most of the international community to be illegal, and the UN has condemned them, but since the U.S. has always vetoed this, Israel has never been formally reprimanded. Earlier this week, the U.S. abstained from the vote, and the many see the U.S. position as hypocritical, (Secretary of State John Kerry strongly defended the position).
Some highly partisan supporters of Israel do not see Israel’s actions as the problem, primarily because Israel’s neighbors have traditionally not recognized its right to exist, and attacked it many times. Therefore, they see Israel’s actions as necessary for the security of Israel, and do not see Israel’s settlements in the West Bank as illegal since Palestine isn’t a state that was ever legally accepted.
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