On Monday, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued a statement expressing “deep concern and dismay” over Israel’s announcement to build 10,000 new Israeli settlement units and the “legalization” of nine existing settlement outposts in the occupied Palestinian Territories. All 15 members of the council, including the United States, approved the statement, which replaced a draft resolution that would have explicitly condemned Israeli policies.
On Wednesday, two days after the UNSC statement, Israeli forces conducted a military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, killing 10 Palestinians, including a child and two elderly people, and injuring more than 100 others, of which 82 were hit by ammunition. The raid, one of the deadliest in years, called into question the effectiveness of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) decision to drop the proposed UNSC resolution condemning the settlements in favor of the statement.
UNSC Statement Condemning of Israel’s Settlement Plans
On Monday, February 20, 2023, the UNSC issued a statement expressing “deep concern and dismay” over Israel’s plans to construct 10,000 illegal settlements and retroactively “legalize” nine settlement outposts in the occupied Palestinian Territories (1). The statement called on all parties to “observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric,” and specifically called out Israel’s actions stating the UNSC “strongly opposes all unilateral measures that impede peace, including, inter alia, Israeli construction and expansion of settlements, confiscation of Palestinians’ land, and the “legalization” of settlement outposts, demolition of Palestinians’ homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians.”
Why did the PA Drop the UNSC Resolution in Favor of a Statement?
The UNSC statement was issued after the PA dropped pursuit of a draft resolution, introduced by the UAE, calling for an end to Israel’s settlement expansion. The Associated Press reports the resolution was dropped in exchange for: (1) a White House meeting for Abbas with President Joe Biden, (2) progress reopening the US consulate in Jerusalem, (3) and a “significant” aid package. Additionally, Israel offered to take several economic steps that will increase Palestinian tax revenues by more than $60m a year in exchange for dropping the resolution.
The statement came after the Israeli government authorized the construction of 10,000 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank, and retroactively legalized nine unlawfully built settlement outposts. All settlements are illegal by international law, but the settlements that were “legalized” were according to internal Israeli law.
On Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Israel conducted a raid on the city of Nablus killing at least 10 Palestinians and injuring over 100, of which, 82 by gunfire. The Israeli military deployed more than 60 armored vehicles and special forces, blocking all entrances to the city before surrounding a house containing two wanted Palestinian fighters who were both killed.
During the raid, widespread confrontations broke out, and Israeli forces targeted the Lions’ Den group . Witnesses described Israeli soldiers firing indiscriminately, causing harm to innocent civilians. The raid violates one of Israel’s commitments to decrease the number of its raids in Palestinian cities in exchange of the PA putting the UNSC’s resolution on hold. Palestinian political parties called for a general strike in Ramallah and Nablus, while a spokesman for Hamas warned that “its patience is running out.”
The raid marked the latest in a series of violent raids by Israel into Nablus and nearby Jenin, which have become the epicenter of Palestinian resistance. Since the start of 2023, Israeli forces have killed 61 Palestinians, including 13 children. The raid on Nablus is part of a wider policy by the new Israeli government to target Palestinians in broad daylight, including the rampant demolition of Palestinian homes.
Reports indicated that the Israelis fired missiles at the building, and snipers were seen in the surrounding area. Additionally, tear gas was used in the eastern market area, suffocating dozens of Palestinians, mostly women and children. Ambulance crews were reportedly prevented by Israeli forces from reaching those in need.
Time-stamped CCTV footage from late Wednesday morning that circulated on social media seemed to show the shooting of at least two unarmed Palestinians as they ran away from gunfire. Video captured at least two Palestians civilians being shot with their backs to gunfire. Four of the casualties had no known affiliation with any faction. One was 72 and another 61, according to a statement by the Palestinian health ministry.
Israel Court Reform
On Tuesday, February 21, 2023, the Knesset voted 63-47 to advance Prime Minister Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul bill which many in Israel believe will dismantle the internal checks and balances in the Israeli government, leading the way to an even more authoritarian regime. The bill now returns to discussion in parliamentary committees ahead of two more votes in the Knesset, which generally occur close together and would pass the bill into law.
You can read the full UNSC statement here.