Middle East

Australia likely to have supported Israel over settlements: Bishop

Jerusalem is seen west of the Green Line, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. Source: AAP

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has indicated that if Australia had a vote on the Security Council she would likely have backed Israel over its settlements.

Australia would not have sided with the United States or New Zealand if it had been entitled to vote on the UN Security Council resolution, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has suggested.

On Friday, the council voted in favour of a resolution condemning Israel over its continued building of settlements in Palestinian territory.

It outlined the Security Council's demand that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard.”

Usually a staunch supporter of Israel, the United States chose not to exercise its veto power, instead abstaining from the vote.

In a statement, first reported by The Age, Ms Bishop said: "In voting at the UN, the Coalition Government has consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel." 

In a comment that could be seen as a reflection on the fallout from the vote, Ms Bishop urged peace to be prioritised.

"Australia urges both sides to refrain from steps that damage the prospect for peace and to resume direct negotiations for a two-state solution as soon as possible."

Israel labelled the resolution "shameful" and has recalled its ambassador to New Zealand - and barred New Zealand's Israel ambassador from the country - for the role it played in sponsoring the resolution. It is expected approvals for new homes in the settlements will continue.

US Secretary of State John Kerry defended the US move in the vote, saying the expanding settlements will lead to an "irreversible one-state reality".

"Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response.

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