High stakes diplomacy. This morning, under pressure from Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Egyptian government put off a vote in the United Nations Security Council on a draft anti-settlement resolution scheduled for today at 3 o’clock.
There was speculation that the United States was planning not to veto that resolution, a historic step.
Western Diplomats: Netanyahu pressured the Egyptians & made them postpone the vote until another Arab league meeting convenes
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) December 22, 2016
Egypt circulated a draft of the resolution last night. Reuters reported:
The resolution would demand Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”.
Some outlets reported that the U.S. planned not to veto the resolution. Ayman Mohyeldin:
Jewish Insider reported that Kerry had told a Palestinian delegation visiting this month that the U.S. would not veto a resolution against the settlements.
These reports gave the Israelis a great deal of consternation. The Israeli ambassador to the U.N. applied pressure today:
We expect our greatest ally not to allow this one-sided and anti-Israel resolution to be adopted by the Council.
And in the middle-of-the-night last night (3:28 in Jerusalem) Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted the same urgent call on the U.S.
The US should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council on Thursday.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 22, 2016
Echoing the PM, this morning Donald Trump posted a statement on Facebook urging the US government to veto the resolution as an “imposition of terms” on Israel:
The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed…
This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.
Secretary of State John Kerry was due to give a speech on the Middle East this morning, but postponed it, evidently because the vote has been postponed.
Israeli journalist Yossi Melman tweeted that Israel offered intelligence information on terror groups in Egypt in exchange for the withdrawal.
Israeli officials told Haaretz that the U.S. had not decided how it was going to vote on the resolution; and feared that Kerry was about to announce a major policy shift.
The Obama administration is evidently writhing in its last weeks. Two days ago, the State Department characterized the settlements as “illegal,” which is something of a departure. It was a response to statements made by Trump’s choice for UN ambassador, settler champion David Friedman.
Abstaining from the resolution would reverse one of President Obama’s greatest disgraces in the eyes of progressives and European peace processors: when he vetoed a resolution condemning settlements in the Security Council in 2011. Just two years after he had told “the Muslim world” in Cairo that the settlements must end.
Reuters quotes the French as being open to the Egyptian resolution.
In Beirut, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters that Paris was looking at the text of the resolution with great interest.
“The continuation of settlements is completely weakening the situation on the ground and creating a lot of tension,” he said. “It is taking away the prospect of a two-state solution. So this could reaffirm our disagreement with this policy.”
Thanks to Adam Horowitz and Dorgham Abusalim.