In Israel UN Security Council to vote on settlements

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

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An Israeli soldier scuffles with a Palestinian journalist during a demonstration against the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank play

An Israeli soldier scuffles with a Palestinian journalist during a demonstration against the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank

(AFP/File)
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The UN Security Council will vote on Thursday on an Egyptian-drafted resolution demanding that Israel immediately halt its settlement activities in the Palestinian territories and east Jerusalem.

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

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

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 maintains that settlements are illegal and has repeatedly called on Israel to halt them, 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.

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

The draft resolution demands that "Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem."

It states that Israeli settlements are "dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution" that would see an independent state of Palestine co-exist alongside Israel.

The text stresses that halting settlements was "essential for salvaging the two-state solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground."

All eyes on US

UN diplomats have for weeks speculated as to whether the administration of US President Barack Obama would decide to refrain from using its veto to block a draft resolution condemning Israel.

Obama's administration has expressed mounting anger over Israeli settlement policy and speculation has grown that he could launch a final initiative before leaving.

The measure calls for "immediate steps" to prevent acts of violence against civilians, but does not specifically single out the Palestinians to stop incitement, as demanded by Israel.

Israel last month revived plans to build 500 new homes for Jewish settlers in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, after Donald Trump won the US presidential election.

Under Netanyahu's government, settlement construction has surged with some 15,000 settlers moving into the West Bank over the past year alone.

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations described the proposed measure as the "peak of hypocrisy" arguing that it will "only reward the Palestinian policy of incitement and terror."

"We expect our greatest ally not to allow this one-sided and anti-Israel resolution to be adopted by the council," Danny Danon said in a statement.

The United States joined the European Union, the United Nations and Russia in calling for a halt to Jewish settlements in a report released in October by the so-called diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East.

The report was to serve as the basis for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process which has been comatose since a US initiative collapsed in April 2014.

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