U.N. Security Council to vote Friday on end to Israeli settlements December 23, 2016

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U.N. Security Council to vote Friday on end to Israeli settlements December 23, 2016
The U.N. Security Council will vote on Friday on a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements, a day after Egypt withdrew the measure under pressure from Israel and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, who were co-sponsors of the draft resolution, have requested the vote, which diplomats said was likely to take place at 3 p.m. (2000 GMT).

The 15-member council had been due to vote on Thursday and Western officials said the United States would allow the draft resolution to be adopted, which would be a major reversal of U.S. practice of protecting Israel from action.

That still looked likely on Friday. The U.S. intention to abstain sparked criticism from the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had an acrimonious relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu and Trump had both called for the United States to veto the draft resolution.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said the Republican president-elect spoke with Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi about the proposed Security Council action on Thursday.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, called on Washington to “stand by” Israel and, in one of the harshest personal attacks by Netanyahu’s government, a senior Israeli official said Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry pushed a “shameful” draft anti-settlement resolution at the U.N. Security Council.

The White House declined to comment.

Wael Abu Youssef, a senior member of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization, told Reuters that Netanyahu’s government “must not be rewarded” by the withdrawal of the draft resolution.

“We are determined to go to the Security Council to seek a decision against settlements,” Abu Youssef said.

The draft resolution would demand Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” and said the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Most countries and the United Nations view Israeli West Bank settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

Israel disputes that settlements are illegal and says their final status should be determined in talks on Palestinian statehood. The last round of U.S.-led peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed in 2014.

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