Egypt Delays UN Motion On Israel As Trump Intervenes

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 on the Security Council vote.

The move would have allowed the motion to pass, a US official told the BBC.

The draft resolution was withdrawn after Mr Trump spoke directly with Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

The resolution tabled 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 voted on in the UN Security Council on Thursday, but Egypt withdrew it hours before the meeting was due to start.

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.

“Israelis deeply appreciate one of the great pillars of the US-Israel alliance: the willingness over many years of the United States to stand up in the UN and veto anti-Israel resolutions,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier.

“I hope the US won’t abandon this policy,” he added.

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 by abstaining from voting.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump had urged the Security Council to defeat the resolution.

In a statement, the US president-elect said: “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.

“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.

In a statement, Mr Sisi’s office said that after a telephone conversation with Mr Trump, the two leaders had agreed the new US administration should be given a chance to deal with the issue.

Mr Trump takes over as US president on 20 January.

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.

None of the four are permanent members of the council, but are serving two-year terms.

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