Donald Trump isn’t even president yet and he’s already making waves at the U.N.
A United Nations draft resolution calling for an immediate end to Israeli settlement construction is on life support, if not dead entirely, following aggressive diplomatic pressure from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday morning.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who introduced the resolution, has asked to postpone a Thursday vote on the measure, reportedly under pressure from the Israeli government. It is unclear whether the resolution will be resuscitated, although it seems unlikely.
Although the United States probably would have vetoed the resolution anyway, it comes as a surprise that the measure was killed even before a vote could take place.
"Sisi caved," A Western diplo source tells me. "This is a resolution the Egyptians spearheaded, only to shelve it under Israeli pressure."
— Michael Wilner (@mawilner) December 22, 2016
Netanyahu seemed to take a page out of Trump’s book in the lead-up to the morning of the vote. In the dim hours of the night, he used Twitter to implore the U.S. to veto the draft resolution being considered by the U.N. Security Council.
Trump, who since the election has voiced strong support for the Israeli right wing, responded with his own strong criticism of the resolution. In a Thursday morning Facebook post, Trump said that the measure should be vetoed when it came up for a vote, as it “puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”
The United States, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, has veto power over all measures that come before the Council. For years, including under President Obama, the U.S. government has repeatedly killed U.N. resolutions even remotely critical of Israel.
Current U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power has not signaled how she would have voted on the measure, but it appears unlikely that the Obama administration would have reversed its longstanding support for Israel at the U.N. In the past, Power has been critical both of Israeli settlement construction and of using the U.N. to pursue action against Israeli policies.
Trump’s Facebook post is just the latest in a series of moves that signal an unprecedented rightward shift in American policy toward Israel and the Palestinians. His recently announced intentions to appoint bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, a prolific supporter of Israeli settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territory, as ambassador to Israel when he takes office next month. Friedman has no government or diplomatic experience, but previously served as an advisor to Trump during the presidential campaign.
From Netanyahu’s perspective, Trump’s embrace of pro-settlement politics is a welcome change from President Obama, who pushed hard for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in the early years of his presidency. According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu and his allies in the Israeli Knesset are planning a period of “unprecedented” new settlement construction.
Cover: (AP Photo/John Locher, File)