By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Four U.N. Security Council members met on Friday to decide whether to vote on a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements after Egypt withdrew the measure under pressure from Israel and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
The 15-member council had been due to vote on Thursday afternoon and Western officials said the United States had intended to allow the draft resolution to be adopted, a major reversal of U.S. practice of protecting Israel from action.
New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, who were co-sponsors of the draft resolution, told Egypt on Thursday night that if Cairo did not clarify its position, then they reserved the right to “proceed to put it to vote ASAP.”
Security Council member Egypt has since officially withdrawn the text, which it had worked on with the Palestinians, allowing those four countries to call for a vote, diplomats said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump had both called for the United States to veto the draft resolution.
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said the Republican president-elect had spoken with both Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi about the proposed Security Council action.
“He put out a statement about the Egyptian motion that was going to happen at the U.N. It was revoked,” Spicer said on NBC’s “Today” program on Friday. “President al-Sisi called, Prime Minister Netanyahu called. He is getting results, whether it’s is domestically or abroad.”
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.”
A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted.
The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Most countries and the United Nations view Israeli West Bank settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace.
Israel disputes that settlements are illegal and says their final status should be determined in any future talks on Palestinian statehood. The last round of U.S.-led peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed in 2014.
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott)