Trump backs Israel demand to veto Egypt's UN resolution to halt settlements

AFP , Thursday 22 Dec 2016

File Photo: Donald Trump addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2016 Policy Conference in Washington, DC (Photo: AFP)

President-elect Donald Trump called on Thursday for the United States to veto an Egyptian-drafted UN resolution demanding that Israel immediately halt its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories and east Jerusalem.

"The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed," the Republican said in a statement issued ahead of the vote taking place later in the day.

"As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations," he said.

"This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis," Trump added.

Egypt circulated its draft late Wednesday and a vote was scheduled for 3 pm (2000 GMT) on Thursday.

A similar resolution was vetoed by the United States in 2011, and it remained uncertain if the measure would be adopted this time.

Israeli settlements are seen as major stumbling block to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

The United Nations has maintained that settlements are illegal, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United States to use its veto to block the measure.

Some in the Israeli government view Trump's victory as an opportunity to expand settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian land occupied by Israel for nearly 50 years.

The billionaire businessman has pledged to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to refrain from pressuring it into deals with the Palestinians.

Trump has chosen as ambassador to Israel the hardliner David Friedman, a man who has said Washington will not pressure Israel to curtail settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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