Israel’s ambassador to the United States thanked President-elect Donald Trump for his call to veto an anti-settlement Egyptian-proposed UN Security Council resolution on Thursday.
The resolution was pulled by Egypt at the last minute Thursday afternoon, following reports of an intense Israeli lobbying campaign and possible pressure by the Trump transition team, including direct contacts with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.
“Israel deeply appreciates the clear and unequivocal call of President-elect @realDonaldTrump to veto anti-Israel resolution at the UN,” Ambassador Ron Dermer wrote on Twitter.
While it was still on the table, Trump had called on the Obama administration to veto the resolution, which demands that Israel immediately halt its settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israel deeply appreciates the clear and unequivocal call of President-elect @realDonaldTrump to veto anti-Israel resolution at the UN.
— Amb. Ron Dermer (@AmbDermer) December 22, 2016
“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,” Trump said in a statement.
The passing of such a resolution, he added, would put “Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”
The call came as a report emerged that outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry had indicated to the Palestinian Authority that Washington would not use its veto power, setting off diplomatic scrambling by Israel to head off a possible surprise move by the US in the final days of the Obama administration.
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 Kerry earlier this month.
The US had been considering a highly unusual abstention, potentially rocking US-Israeli relations, officials said, though they wouldn’t say whether Obama had made a final decision.
Trump, who takes office in less than a month, has indicated a more sympathetic approach to Israel and appointed an ambassador who has been a supporter of the settler movement.
Egypt, the Arab representative to the Security Council, circulated the draft resolution on Wednesday.
Several diplomats and Western officials said the Egyptians postponed the vote due to pressure from the Israelis. Egypt, the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, was meeting with Arab League diplomats to review the text. Diplomats said there was no time frame for when the vote may now occur and said it could be put off indefinitely.
An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said Israeli diplomats had made the government’s views clear “in various channels.”
A UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, dubbed the Israeli lobbying a “diplomatic World War III” and a senior Security Council diplomat suggested that the motion could be buried indefinitely.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Trump’s call for a veto was in response to pressure from the Israeli prime minister. “He is acting on behalf of Netanyahu,” he said.
The draft resolution, circulated by Egypt, demands that Israel stop settlement activities in the Palestinian territories and declares that all existing settlements “have no legal validity” and are “a flagrant violation” of international law.
Ahmed Abu-Zeid, spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, told the SkyNewsArabia channel that “talks are still ongoing,” on the draft resolution. He said the talks are taking place in New York and in Cairo at the Arab League headquarters, and that an “appropriate” decision will be taken, without elaboration. He didn’t respond to phone calls.
AFP contributed to this report