Implications of UN abstention and Secretary Kerry's speech

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Major events have developed in the waning days of the Obama administration that, while they may be too late to have a great impact on Palestinian rights, go a long way in projecting the message that Israeli policies are illegal, inhumane, and amount to apartheid.

On Dec. 23, the United States abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, thereby allowing the measure to pass. The landmark resolution was presented by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Donald Trump intervened and pressured Egypt to withdraw its original draft on Thursday. The abstention was the first time since 1979 that the US did not veto a resolution critical of Israel.

Then, on Dec. 28, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a blistering address saying Israeli settlement policy and the settler movement are making peace impossible. He also recognized the suffering of Palestinian refugees but stopped short of calling for their internationally guaranteed right of return. 

What do these events mean for Palestinians? Coming near the end of Obama's second term and with President-Elect Trump's inauguration just days away, will there be any meaningful change in U.S. policy? 

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