Hamas says US veto of UN illegal settlements vote 'outrageous'

AFP , Saturday 19 Feb 2011

Hamas condemns the United States' veto against issuing a Security Council resolution to halt the building of illegal Israeli settlements

A Palestinian protester waves a burning US flag during a demonstration calling to end the split between the West Bank and Gaza, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, 17 February 2011. (AP)

Hamas said on Saturday that the US use of its veto to block a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements was "outrageous" and urged an end to Palestinian-Israeli contacts.

The Islamist group which governs Gaza said the behaviour of President Barack Obama's administration in Friday night's council session should serve as a wake-up call for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA).

"This is an arbitrary and outrageous decision against the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told AFP. "It should push the PA to adopt a strategy of unity... and take a national decision to end all forms of negotiations with the (Israeli) occupation."

He said Washington had again shown itself to be "completely biased towards the occupation and this confirms the failure of betting on a peace settlement."

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said on Friday that Washington was "regrettably" opposing the draft resolution. She said that it should not be seen by Israel as support for continued settlement building on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, including annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

Ahead of the vote, the United States had pressured the Palestinians to drop their backing for the resolution, but to no avail, with Abbas rejecting a personal appeal from Obama.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down late last year after the expiry of a temporary freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.

US attempts to coax Israel into renewing the freeze ran aground in December, with the Palestinians refusing to return to the negotiating table while Israeli settlers build on land they want for a future state.

 Settlement building on Palestinian land usurped during the 1967 Six-Day War is considered illegal by the international community, including the United States, though until the PA proposal to the UNSC solid steps have rarely or never been taken to put an end to it.

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