Egypt postpones anti-settlement move at UN Security Council


Egypt has decided to delay the submission of a draft UN Security Council resolution which called for Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”.

The decision comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 11th hour plea on twitter for the US to "veto the anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council on Thursday”.

While the Israeli Prime Minister's Office has not yet commented, it is widely believed that Israeli officials spent the morning and afternoon lobbying the Egyptian government for the resolution to be dropped.

Mr Netanyahu later released an online broadcast in which he appealed to the US President and said: "I hope it will abide by the principles set by President Obama himself: That peace will come not through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations".

Despite Egypt's withdrawal of the resolution, New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, who were co-sponsors of the original draft resolution, have requested the vote, which diplomats said was likely to take place at 8pm UK time.

The move is widely seen as a final attempt to block the settlement building programme before the President-elect, Donald Trump, is sworn in later next month.

Mr Trump has indicated that will not force Israel to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, but also that he will support Israel in a number of critical areas.

The resolution also states that settlements built in “Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem” have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law” and are “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution”.

Israel disputes that settlements are illegal and says their final status should be determined in any future talks on Palestinian statehood, the last round of which collapsed in 2014.

While the White House has declined to comment on American voting intentions, sources within the UN widely predict that the US will abstain on the vote, allowing it to be passed.

The Obama administration’s relationship with Israel, and Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, has been a tense one. The Israeli leader has bitterly criticised the Iran nuclear deal and President Obama has been vocally opposed towards the country’s settlement programme.

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, told Israeli Army Radio that: “In a few hours we will receive the answer from our American friends.

“I hope very much it will be the same one we received in 2011 when the version was very similar to the one proposed now and the US ambassador to the UN at the time, Susan Rice, vetoed it.”

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