Under Israeli pressure, UN vote on settlements postponed
Under heavy Israeli pressure, Egypt on Thursday indefinitely postponed a planned United Nation (UN) vote on a proposed Security Council resolution that sought to condemn Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, diplomats and Western officials said, just a few hours before the vote was set to take place.
The vote would have been one of the last opportunities for President Barack Obama to take a stand against Israeli settlement building after years of failed peace efforts, but doing so could re-ignite a dispute with a close ally in the waning days of his tenure. The delay also dealt a setback to repeated Palestinian efforts to censure Israel over its settlements.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had publicly urged the United States to veto the resolution, calling it bad for peace. "Peace will come not through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties," he said.
President-elect Donald Trump had also urged Obama to block the measure, issuing a statement nearly identical to Netanyahu's.
"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," he said in a statement on Facebook. "This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis."
The US, as a permanent member of the Security Council, has traditionally used its veto power to block resolutions condemning Israeli settlements, even though it sees them as an obstacle to a peace settlement. But in recent weeks, the Obama administration had been especially secretive about its deliberations, which included what one official described as an unannounced meeting between Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this month.