Egypt delays UN motion on Israel as Trump intervenes
- 23 December 2016
- From the section Middle East
Egypt has delayed a UN vote on a text condemning Israeli settlements in occupied territory after Israel asked Donald Trump to intervene.
Israel contacted the US president-elect's transition team after learning that the Obama administration might abstain in a Security Council vote.
The move would have allowed the motion to pass, a US official told the BBC.
Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi discussed the issue in a phone call with Mr Trump, Mr Sisi's office said.
In a statement, it said the two men had 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".
The resolution submitted by Egypt called for Israel to stop settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it said breached international law.
It was to have been put to a vote on Thursday, but Egypt withdrew it hours before the meeting was due to start.
Israel's ambassador the US Ron Dermer expressed gratitude to Mr Trump, tweeting "Israel deeply appreciates the clear and unequivocal call of President-elect @realDonaldTrump to veto anti-Israel resolution at the UN."
The US, which holds the power of veto as a permanent member of the Security Council, has traditionally sheltered Israel from condemnatory resolutions by voting them down.
The Obama administration has long made clear its opposition to Israeli settlement building and there had been speculation that in its final month it might allow a resolution against settlements to pass at the UN.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump, who takes over as president on 20 January, had urged the Security Council to defeat the motion.
"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.
"This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis."
After the postponement of the vote, an Israeli official told Reuters news agency that it had warned the Obama administration in advance that it would appeal to the president-elect if the US abstained, and confirmed that it had directly asked Mr Trump to intervene.
However, four other members of the Security Council warned that if Egypt did not press ahead with its resolution, other member states would do so.
New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia, and Senegal said they reserved the right to move ahead with the vote.
The issue of Jewish settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians, who see them as an obstacle to peace.
About 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.