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What You Need To Know To Understand The Latest Drama Between Israel And The US
The situation at the UN last week that got President-elect Trump tweeting has been in the making for years now.
The last week of 2016 is proving to be just as chaotic as the rest of the year, as a diplomatic feud between the US and Israel threatens to spill over into the next year and beyond.
The short version of the issue is this: The United States didn't block a UN resolution telling Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank, Israel is upset, and the UN might be in big trouble. The long version will take a bit more time to explain but that's what we're here for.
(For those of you who clicked expecting a full rundown of the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we are just going to say up front that this is not going to be that.)
But we will start with a look at the history between the United Nations and Israel, one that goes back to the country's founding.
As Israel's isolation at the UN grew, though, it began to count on the US using its ability to veto resolutions in the Security Council that it believed targeted Israel unfairly.
Let's jump ahead to 2009, though, when the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank really began to come to a head.
Over the course of President Obama's eight years in office, he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have argued mainly about two things: Iran and the settlements.
The Israeli government has also been working to make the settlements more appealing to people who might not have otherwise considered moving to the West Bank.
And so the settler population has only continued to grow, as this set of graphics from 2014 shows. While the numbers may seem relatively small, they're a very big deal in a place the size of the West Bank.
The continued growth of settlements and overall stagnation in the peace process has led to a feeling of despair among Palestinians.
France tried to get things going again in June by hosting a summit of foreign ministers intended to jumpstart the process. (Israel rejected the summit because the two main parties weren't the ones negotiating.)
All of that leads us to last week's drama at the UN, where an Egyptian-drafted resolution calling for a halt to Israeli settlement construction was put to a vote.
In the end, the United States opted to abstain from the vote instead of vetoing and has spent all of its time since then explaining its choice at length.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday then spent an hour-long speech both explaining the US's abstention and outlining his view of the peace process moving forward.
A diplomatic explosion still went off after the vote despite that. Netanyahu and other officials were sure that the US was really behind the resolution and started doling out reprisals — but may have calmed some since.
On the Palestinian side of things, President Mahmoud Abbas is clearly pleased with the resolution — as is Hamas, sort of.
And then there's Trump, who used Twitter several times in the days after the vote to lash out at the UN and call for a more robust defense of Israel.
It's a line that might pick up steam with Republicans in the House and Senate, some of whom have called for retribution against the UN in Israel's name.
All of this still leaves up in the air just what — if anything — will come from the upcoming summit in Paris. Israel is still firmly against it but the Palestinians are super excited about it.