Israel urges Washington to veto resolution on settlements

The US would be in breach of its commitment to not back one-sided anti-Israel resolutions, if the administration were to allow an Egyptian-proposed resolution on settlements to pass Thursday at the United Nations Security Council, a senior Israeli official said.

Israel’s security cabinet was holding an urgent meeting in Jerusalem on Thursday evening ahead of the expected vote later in the day.

“We hope America doesn’t breach its longstanding commitment to advance peace through negotiations,” a senior official told The Times of Israel, speaking on condition of anonymity, hours before the vote. “If they don’t veto, it will be a last gasp by the Obama administration, as they expect policy to change with the new [Trump] administration. We hope President Obama stays true to his words in 2011 that peace won’t come through statements at the UN.”

At his speech to the UN General Assembly in September 2011, Obama declared: “Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”

Over the last few months, as Jerusalem prepared for a possible anti-Israel resolution at the Security Council, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu often quoted that passage from Obama’s speech, insisting that the White House block any effort to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace effort via international forums.

“The US should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council on Thursday,” Netanyahu wrote in a tweet posted early Thursday.

The US should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council on Thursday.

— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 22, 2016

Late Wednesday, in a surprise move, Egypt — which currently holds a non-permanent seat and represents the Arab Group in the council — circulated a draft that will be voted on at 10 p.m. Israel time Thursday.

The most recent draft of the resolution, which is subject to change due to last-minute negotiations, calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

It further expresses “grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution.” It calls on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967,” which some analysts say invites boycotts of Israeli settlements goods.

On the other hand, the draft also condemns “all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,” which some in the international community understand as turning the resolution into a “balanced” text.

On Thursday, top Israeli officials spoke out against the resolution and urged the US administration to veto it.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, in a video message, called the UN Security Council meeting a “record in hypocrisy” in light of the slaughter in Syria, and said those who support it are backing “the bad guys” and “the forces of evil.”

“Just a short plane ride from here, in Aleppo, there is a genocide going on,” he said. “Yet the UN Security Council is going to convene to tell us not to build a house here in Jerusalem, pave a road, open up a kindergarten. That is from the UN Security Council’s perspective, the number one issue… We expect the decent free world to support the world’s number-one fighter against radical terror, Israel.”

“We expect our greatest friend not to let such a one-sided and anti-Israel resolution pass,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said. “A resolution like this won’t advance any [peace] process, but will only serve as a prize by the UN for the Palestinian policy of incitement and terror.”

“Whoever truly supports peace must reject this resolution and all other contemptible efforts to promote a boycott against Israel through the United Nations,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said. “President Obama and many US states already passed legislation opposing any form of boycotts. I call on the American administration to veto this resolution immediately.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that backing the Palestinians at the UN would harden their “extremist positions” and distance peace. “We expect from the United States, our friends, to cast a veto, since such resolutions damage any future chances of reaching an agreement.”

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