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America abstains as the UN condemns Israeli settlements

New Zealand had stepped in to replace a withdrawn Egyptian resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US president Barack Obama a year ago.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US president Barack Obama a year ago.
Image: Andrew Harnik/PA

Updated 7.35pm

THE UN SECURITY Council has demanded that Israel halt settlements, in a resolution adopted after the United States refrained from vetoing the contentious measure.

The United States instead abstained, allowing the measure to pass by a vote of 14 in favour in the 15-member council.

New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela stepped in after Egypt, under pressure from US President-elect Donald Trump, decided not to move forward with its push for a vote at the council.

Earlier an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were “behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN”.

“President Obama could declare his willingness to veto this resolution in an instant but instead is pushing it,” the official said.

This is an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration of advancing peace.

Egypt had requested that the vote be postponed, a day after it submitted the draft text to the council, triggering immediate calls from Israel for a US veto to block the measure.

In addition to five permanent members (China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States), there are 10 other non-permanent members of the Security Council, on a rotating basis.

Crucially, they do not hold a veto. Currently, they are:

  • Angola
  • Egypt
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Senegal
  • Spain
  • Ukraine
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

© – AFP, 2016 with reporting from Darragh Peter Murphy.

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