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UNSC members push Egypt to move forward with anti-settlement resolution

Dec. 23, 2016 3:35 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 23, 2016 5:22 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Hours after Egypt caved under diplomatic pressure from Israel and postponed their proposal to hold a vote on an anti-settlement resolution at the UN Security Council Thursday evening, four members of the UNSC threatened to move forward with the text anyway, Reuters reported Friday.

New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia, and Senegal, with the support of Palestine, gave Egypt an ultimatum on Thursday to clarify by midnight whether it planned to call the vote, or they would put the draft resolution to vote themselves.

"In the event that Egypt decides that it cannot proceed to call for vote on 23 December or does not provide a response by the deadline, those delegations reserve the right to table the draft ... and proceed to put it to vote ASAP," the four council members said in a note to Egypt obtained by Reuters.

The note expressed a “strong sense of disappointment" that the UNSC had not voted on the resolution that would have demanded that Israel "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem" and said the establishment of settlements by Israel has "no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law."

Despite Egypt's decision to postpone the vote following Israeli pressure, with Israel reportedly calling on US President-elect Donald Trump to intervene, there was still a chance the vote could still take place in the upcoming days or weeks, members of Israel's security cabinet were warned Thursday evening, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

The postponement also came amid reports that US President Barack Obama had intended to allow for the resolution’s approval through abstaining on the vote, as opposed to using American veto power to block the resolution’s passage, as the US has done for previous anti-settlement resolutions at UNSC.

While the Obama administration has condemned Israel’s settlement expansions in the past, the US government has yet to take any concrete actions to end settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Critics have claimed that instead the US has inadvertently encouraged Israel’s settlement enterprise through its consistent inaction over Israel’s violation of international law and its continued support of the Israeli government through inflated military aid packages.
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