Posted by Ali Albassam on December 22, 2016 in Blog

In an odd series of events, Egypt proposed a UN Security Council resolution that would demand an end to Israeli settlement building last night, then postponed the vote today. Whether postponed indefinitely or until an Arab League meeting is scheduled—both are circulating—the impact of the delayed vote is clear: more inaction.

Instead of the vote at 3:00 today, there has been much discussion about the expectation that the U.S. was intending to abstain or possibly support rather than veto, which would have dramatically increased the odds of such a resolution passing. Formal public U.S. opposition to illegal Israeli settlements via support for a UN resolution would have been historic.   

While headlines focused on Israeli pressure on Egypt, an Egyptian diplomat suggested that the vote could have also been postponed to appease the incoming Trump administration.

"We (Arab states) are all looking for a way to ensure constructive relations with this new administration. It's not clear if this (resolution) helps that, or if it might even hinder," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Thursday morning, President elect Trump took to Twitter and Facebook to voice his opposition to the resolution and reportedly called Obama urging him to veto the measure. 

The UN Security Council resolutions are the only UN resolutions that are binding. In order for the resolution to pass, it needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the permanent five members (United States, France, Russia, Britain or China). 

Regardless of the reason, Egypt missed a golden opportunity to adopt a well-needed resolution that would put Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank in check.

If Trump’s comments on the campaign trail and appointments are any indication, any resolution critical of Israel will have virtually no chance of passing after January 20th. In fact, David Friedman, Trump’s newly appointed ambassador to the U.S. has no diplomatic experience and strongly supports legalizing settlements through an Israeli annexation of the West Bank.  This comes to no surprise considering the fact that he is the president of American Friends of Bet El Institutions, an organization that funds settlements in the West Bank.

It’s worth noting, that such settlements are against international law and a clear contradiction of generations of bi-partisan U.S. policy.

In response to Friedman’s appointment, State Department spokesperson John Kirby stressed that a “two-state solution is possible, but requires leadership” and that any Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories are “illegal”.   

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