In showdown with Trump, Obama allows anti-Israel resolution in Security Council

United Nations, Dec 24 (IANS) The conflicting world views of President Barack Obama and his successor-elect Donald Trump took the global stage on Friday when Obama refused to have an anti-Israel resolution vetoed in the Security Council in a signature departure from US policy of blocking measures critical of Israel.

The Security Council condemned the Israel building of settlements on the West bank and East Jerusalem in a show of defiance by both the Council members and the Obama administration against Trump who wanted it vetoed.

The resolution, which called the constructions in the Palestinian territories captured from Jordan in the 1967 war a “flagrant violation” of international law, passed on Friday with all the 14 Council members except the US voting for it.

Rather than veto it, US Permanent Representative Samantha Power abstained, thus allowing it to pass.

The resolution also called for a halt to settlement building and asked Israelis and Palestinians to de-escalate the tense situation and launch credible negotiations.

The two days of dramatic developments with Trump trying to actively influence US foreign policy foreshadow the nation’s posture at the UN when he becomes President and Indian American Nikki Haley takes over as the US ambassador, a cabinet-level position, and resistance it was likely to face.

He tweeted after the resolution passed, “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” the day he is sworn-in.

The drama began with Trump tweeting a challenge to Obama on Thursday, “The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed.”

Trump called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and pressured him on the resolution originally proposed by Cairo that was to have been taken up Thursday.

Egypt backed out and the Council meeting on the resolution scheduled for Thursday was postponed.

The Egyptian President’s Office later acknowledged that this was done because Trump and al-Sisi wanted to allow the new administration to deal comprehensively with the Palestinian situation.

In the next dramatic twist, New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia brought the resolution abandoned by Egypt before the Council which passed it.

Washington has used its veto powers dozens of times to squelch resolutions criticising Israel.

Three resolutions on the same topic as Friday’s resolution that related to Israeli construction activities were vetoed three times, most recently under Obama in 2011.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington had allowed it to pass because it wanted to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some right-wing Israeli political groups and ultra-orthodox Jews have been building settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem in hopes of preventing the handover of those areas to a Palestinian nation proposed under various plans for a two-state solution, which is backed by India.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

–IANS

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