Push back from President-elect Donald Trump and Israeli officials has forced Egyptian officials to halt, potentially indefinitely, plans to go along with a United Nations Security Council vote that condemned Israeli settlements.
“Egypt requested the vote’s delay to permit them to conduct an additional meeting of the Arab League’s foreign ministers to work on the resolution’s wording,” Haaretz reported in a piece that cited Western diplomats and noted that the vote could be postponed indefinitely.
The Washington Examiner reported:
Israeli settlement construction drew condemnation from the State Department earlier this year, in addition to the rebukes of more customary critics, raising fears in Israel and among congressional Republicans that President Obama might not veto a resolution on the matter in the waning days of his presidency. President-elect Trump stated his opposition to the resolution, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was lobbying Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to drop the resolution.
Egypt is a temporary member of the UN Security Council, which is dominated by five permanent members — the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France — which have the authority to veto council resolutions. Obama used that authority to block a similar resolution condemning Israeli settlements in 2011, but his administration’s increasingly public frustration with the failure of talks between Israel and the Palestinians raised the possibility that he wouldn’t veto it this time around.
Both Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan condemned the resolution. Trump released a statement: “The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed.”
“As the United States has long maintained, 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.”
Gregg Carlson, a correspondent for The Economist, tweeted: “Diplomats in Tel Aviv speculating that Sisi didn’t cave because of Israel, but rather because he didn’t want to piss off incoming president.”
Diplomats in Tel Aviv speculating that Sisi didn't cave because of Israel, but rather because he didn't want to piss off incoming president.
— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) December 22, 2016
At the Haim Saban Forum on Dec. 4, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about a potential resolution that would be authored by French Diplomats. He responded: “If it’s a biased and unfair and a resolution calculated to delegitimize Israel, we’ll oppose it.”
“But it’s getting more complicated now because there is a building sense of what I’ve been saying to you today, which some people can shake their heads, say, well, it’s unfair,” Kerry continued.
In contrast to Trump, Kerry placed blame on the Israelis. He didn’t outright blame them for the violence, however, he called their construction of settlements in disputed territory a “barrier” to peace.
“I’ll tell you why I know that: because the left in Israel is telling everybody they are a barrier to peace, and the right that supports it openly supports it because they don’t want peace,” Kerry said.
The Washington Examiner reported that “An absention at the UN would have represented a strong break, nonetheless, from standing U.S. policy and congressional Democrats and Republicans, as Obama’s allies made clear Thursday.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said of the U.N. resolution: “The draft United Nations resolution directly contradicts the Senate resolution I authored – and passed unanimously last year – condemning Palestinian terrorism and calling on all parties to return to the negotiating table immediately and without preconditions.
“Direct discussions remain the best avenue to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”