Egypt agreed delaying 'anti-Israel' UN vote after Trump call

Egypt agreed delaying 'anti-Israel' UN vote after Trump call
Egypt agreed to postpone a UN vote demanding Israel stops illegal settlement building on Palestinian land following a phone call with US President-elect Donald Trump.
2 min read
23 December, 2016
The UN was to vote on a resolution demanding Israel stop building illegal settlements [AFP]

Egypt agreed to postpone a UN vote demanding Israel to stop building settlements on Palestinian land after a phone call from US President-elect Donald Trump.

Egypt on Thursday requested that the vote be delayed a day after it submitted the draft text to the Security Council, which prompted a frantic lobbying effort to Trump from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

It has also since emerged that the US, under President Barack Obama's administration, was going to abstain from the vote.

Two Western officials told Reuters that the outgoing leader had intended to go against US practice, a relatively rare step, to register criticism of the building on occupied land that Palestinians want for a state.

A US abstention would have been seen as a parting shot by Obama, who has made the settlements a major target of his ultimately futile peace efforts.

Diplomats on Thursday said Cairo had acted under pressure from Israel and to avoid alienating Trump, who spoke to the Egyptian president and urged the White House to use its veto.

Sisi's office said the two leaders spoke.

"The presidents agreed on the importance of affording the new US administration the full chance to deal with all dimensions of the Palestinian case with a view of achieving a full and final settlement," presidency spokesman Alaa Yousef said on Thursday.

Trump, who had campaigned on a promise to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, said Washington should use its veto to block the resolution.

"The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed," he said in a statement.

While Israeli settlement building is ongoing in areas of the West Bank, according to B'Tselem, an Israeli rights groups focused on raising awareness of human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories have also increased significantly in 2016 from 2015.

The draft resolution would demand 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".