Tensions over the Israel-Palestinian peace process flared briefly at the United Nations on Thursday when Egypt tabled a new Security Council resolution criticising Israeli settlements, only to postpone a vote after coming under intense pressure from Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.
Mr Netanyahu was joined in slamming the proposed resolution by US president-elect Donald Trump, who called on the Obama administration to veto the text at the UN Security Council.
The proposed resolution, which Egypt tabled on Wednesday evening, had become a last-minute test of whether the Obama administration would seek to make a public statement about the peace process before leaving office by letting a resolution critical of Israel pass at the UN.
John Kirby, State Department spokesman, said the US did not have a firm position on the resolution. “I think we were interested to see how the debate and the discussion would unfold,” he said. “I think I’ll leave it at that.”
Egypt late on Wednesday surprised Israel by proposing the resolution, which called Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem a “flagrant violation of international law” and demanded that Israel “immediately and completely” halt all settlement activity. It had been due to be put before the Security Council at about 3pm New York time.
As news of the resolution broke, Mr Netanyahu took to Twitter in the middle of the night in Israel to denounce the text. “The US should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council on Thursday,” he said. Israel accuses the UN of showing systematic bias against it in the many resolutions and other measures adopted by the world body.