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Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has described the UN call to end settlement activity on occupied land as “shameful”.

The prime minister stressed that Israel would not abide by December 23vote at the 15-member UN Security Council.

However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman said the resolution was a “big blow to Israeli policy”.

The resolution was passed after the US refused to veto it, breaking with long-standing American practice.

Washington has traditionally sheltered Israel from condemnatory resolutions.

The Egyptian-drafted resolution had been withdrawn after Israel asked President-elect Donald Trump to intervene, but it was proposed again by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela.

The UN resolutin, approved by 14 votes to zero, with only the US abstaining, demands that Israel immediately “cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”.

Image source Wikimedia

It says Jewish settlements are a “flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.

The issue is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians.

About 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms.

“At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half-a-million people in Syria, it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, and calls the Western Wall <<occupied territory>>.”

He said the Obama administration “not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes”, and added that he looked forward to working with Donald Trump.

Israel also announced its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal had been ordered to return for consultations and that it was cutting all aid programs to Senegal.

It has no diplomatic ties with Malaysia and Venezuela.

A spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas said: “The Security Council resolution is a big blow to Israeli policy, a unanimous international condemnation of settlements and a strong support for the two-state solution.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said: “The Council’s action, while long overdue, is timely, necessary and important.”

Samantha Power, the US envoy to the UN, said the resolution reflected the “facts on the ground” that settlement growth had been accelerating.

Criticizing Benjamin Netanyahu, she said: “One cannot simultaneously champion expanding settlements and champion a two-state solution that would end the conflict.”

However, Samantha Power said the US had not voted in favor of the resolution because it was “too narrowly focused” on settlements.

She added that even if all settlements were dismantled, both sides would still have to acknowledge “uncomfortable truths” and make “difficult choices” to reach peace.

Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted after the vote: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

On December 22, Donald Trump had urged the council to reject the motion, saying: “Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.”

Google has changed the tagline on the homepage of its Palestinian edition from “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine”.

The change, introduced on May 1st, means google.ps now displays “Palestine” in Arabic and English under Google’s logo.

Using the word Palestine is controversial for some. Israeli policy is that the borders of a Palestinian state are yet to be agreed.

In November, the UN gave Palestine the status of “non-member observer state”.

The decision by the General Assembly was strongly opposed by Israel and the US. Previously, Palestine only had “observer entity” status.

It followed an unsuccessful Palestinian bid to join the international body as a full member state in 2011 because of a lack of support in the UN Security Council.

Google has changed the tagline on the homepage of its Palestinian edition from Palestinian Territories to Palestine

Google has changed the tagline on the homepage of its Palestinian edition from Palestinian Territories to Palestine

Palestinians in general seek recognition for the state they are trying to establish and the adoption of the name Palestine.

Israel considers any formal use of the word Palestine as pre-judging the outcome of currently stalled peace talks. In much of Israel’s official terminology the West Bank is referred to as Judea and Samaria.

Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said: “We’re changing the name <<Palestinian Territories>> to <<Palestine>> across our products. We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries.

“In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, Icann [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], ISO [International Organization for Standardization] and other international organizations.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) welcomed Google’s decision.

“This is a step in the right direction, a timely step and one that encourages others to join in and give the right definition and name for Palestine instead of Palestinian territories,” said Dr. Sabri Saidam, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Most of the traffic that happens now happens in the virtual world and this means putting Palestine on the virtual map as well as on the geographic maps,” he added.

Dr. Sabri Saidam said that since the UN vote on November 29, the PA had written to international companies, including Google, asking them to replace their usage of “Palestinian Territories” with “Palestine”.