UN Postpones Vote On Resolution Condemning Israeli Settlements

A Jewish man covered in a prayer shawl, prays Sunday in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank. Photo: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS
A Jewish man covered in a prayer shawl, prays Sunday in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank. Photo: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

A potential collision between the Obama administration and the incoming team of President-elect Donald Trump was avoided when the United Nations Security Council postponed a vote on a resolution criticizing Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank.

After a draft of the resolution was circulated by Egyptian diplomats late Wednesday, Israel and Mr. Trump urged the Obama administration to veto it, but diplomats at the U.N. said the matter wouldn’t be coming to a vote Thursday.

“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,” Mr. Trump said in a statement issued in Palm Beach, Fla., by his transition team.

“This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis,” he added.

Western diplomats said Egypt postponed the vote.

“This is a resolution that the Egyptians spearheaded and introduced, only to shelve it under Israeli pressure,” one of the diplomats said. “The vote has been postponed, potentially indefinitely.”

The wording of the draft resolution closely reflects the views of the peace-negotiating group known as the Middle East Quartet, which issued a report in August calling settlement construction an obstacle to peace and urging its end. The Quartet is composed of the U.N., the U.S., Russia and the European Union.

The U.S. vetoed a similar resolution against the settlements in 2011, but with Barack Obama in the final weeks of his presidency, Palestinian officials have brought the measure forward again hoping the president will break with precedent and not order a U.S. veto or abstention.

In Mr. Obama’s final year in office, the White House has considered ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and in recent months has considered supporting a resolution, according to White House officials.

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SOURCE: RORY JONES in Tel Aviv and FARNAZ FASSIHI at the United Nations 
The Wall Street Journal