While President Obama had long followed the US trend of vetoing every resolution at the UN Security Council remotely critical of Israel, officials say he was going to end that trend today if the vote calling for an end to Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied territories had taken place.
Obama intended to abstain from the vote, which would’ve meant that if it got a majority vote, it would’ve passed. This was virtually assured, as such resolutions tend to have near virtual unanimity, with the US vetoes the only reason they usually don’t pass.
Israel contacted President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team and asked him to intervene to stop Obama from abstaining from the vote. Trump issued a statement demanding Obama veto the resolution, saying the US was obliged to “stand up to anti-Israel resolutions.”
The US has been critical of the settlements for decades, but abstaining from a UN resolution echoing that stance would still be a huge deal. Israel attempted to avoid that by convincing Egypt to delay the vote at the UN, with no date yet set for the next attempt.
Israeli officials say their intention is to try to keep getting Egypt to delay the vote through the US inauguration in January, and then have Trump veto the resolution. Given the international pressure, particularly among the Muslim community, for such a resolution, it’s unclear if the Egypt junta will hold out for a solid month of delaying the vote.
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