UN Council likely to vote on Israeli settlements
Israel turned to Trump to ward off resolution
The UN Security Council was expected to vote later yesterday on demanding Israel halt settlements after four countries agreed to present a draft resolution that was withdrawn by Egypt, diplomats said. New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela stepped in after Egypt, under pressure from US President-elect Donald Trump, decided not to move forward with its push for a vote at the council, diplomats said. “Most likely, we will have a vote soon,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters. Egypt on Thursday requested that the vote be postponed a day after it submitted the draft text to the council, triggering immediate calls from Israel for a US veto to block the measure.
Israel asked Trump to intervene after learning that Washington, in a reversal of its policy under President Barack Obama, would not veto the resolution, an Israeli official said.
“The key goal that we have here is to preserve and reaffirm the two statesolution,” said Delattre. “The text that we have does not exclusively focus on settlements. It also condemns the violence and terrorism. It also calls to prevent all incitement from the Palestinian side so this is a balanced text.” Diplomats said the same draft resolution would be submitted to a vote, at the request of the four countries. The draft resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” It states that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution” that would see an independent Palestine co-exist alongside Israel.
Israeli settlements are seen as a major stumbling block to peace efforts, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state. The United Nations maintains that settlements are illegal, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months.
Israel’s prime minister turned to President-elect Donald Trump to help head off a critical UN resolution after learning that the White House did not intend to veto the measure, an Israeli official said yesterday. The admission marked a final chapter in the icy relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama over the last eight years, and signaled an era of close ties between Israel and the incoming Trump administration.
The Egyptian-sponsored resolution had demanded that Israel halt settlement activities in occupied territories claimed by the Palestinians and declared that existing settlements “have no legal validity.”
But under heavy Israeli pressure, Egypt called off a planned vote in the Security Council hours before it was to take place. In the diplomatic activity ahead of the postponement, both Netanyahu and Trump issued nearly identical statements urging the US to veto the measure. “After becoming aware that the administration would not veto the anti-Israel resolution, Israeli officials reached out to Trump’s transition team to ask for the president-elect’s help to avert the resolution,” the Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity.
On Friday, Egypt said its president had received a call from Trump in which they both agreed to give the incoming US administration a chance to try and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The call came hours after Egypt indefinitely postponed the UN vote.
A statement from the Egyptian presidency said the two men spoke by phone early yesterday and agreed on “the importance of giving a chance for the new American administration to deal in a comprehensive way with the different aspects of the Palestinian issue with the aim of achieving a comprehensive and a final resolution.” A senior Palestinian official, speaking anonymously according to protocol, said Egypt didn’t consult with the Palestinians about delaying the vote and it was a “complete shock” for them. —Agencies
BETHLEHEM: Israeli border police officers scuffle with Palestinian protesters, some are dressed as Santa Claus, during a protest in front of an Israeli checkpoint, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem yesterday.—AP
Israel turns to Trump