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Egypt retreat on UN Israeli settlement bill is 'suicide'

Image of the UN Security Council resolution that called Israel to stop settlement activities on Palestinian territories on December 23 2016 [Volkan Furuncu / Anadolu Agency]
Image of the UN Security Council resolution that called Israel to stop settlement activities on Palestinian territories on December 23 2016 [Volkan Furuncu / Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riyadh Al-Maliki said that the last-minute Egyptian retreat regarding the illegal Jewish settlements resolution at the UN Security Council was "suicide", Alkhaleej Online reported yesterday.

"Egypt did not discuss this surprising and sudden decision with us," Al-Maliki told the Arab news website, noting that the PA was prepared for a "new victory".

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi suddenly, and one day before the UN Security Council was due to convene to vote on the resolution, announced Egypt's withdrawal of the settlement resolution from the agenda of the Council's meeting.

The resolution, which four other countries insisted on keeping on the agenda and received overwhelming support, demanded an immediate Israeli halt of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.

Read: UN Security Council passes resolution to end Israeli settlements

It also indicated that Israeli settlements are in violation of international law and that the retention of Israeli settlement is at odds with the two-state solution, which is placed at risk due to settlement activity.

Egypt, which is a temporary UN Security Council member, was asked by the PA to work on taking the settlement resolution to the UNSC on behalf of the Palestinians.

Al-Maliki said that the PA is going to send a delegation to meet with Egyptian and Arab officials and discuss the reasons which pushed Cairo to withdraw their support for the resolution.

Meanwhile, media reports indicate that Al-Sisi ordered the withdrawal of the bill after a request from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as US President-elect Donald Trump in a last ditch effort to derail the resolution.

Early on Friday, Israeli officials thanked Al-Sisi for withdrawing the bill and the Israeli media hailed him with newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth printing: "Thank you Mr Al-Sisi."

The UNSC resolution passed overwhelmingly last night with all Council members voting for the bill, with a notable exception of the United States. Washington abstained from the vote and did not veto it, leading Israeli politicians to accuse outgoing US President Barack Obama of treachery.

MEMO Commentary: The UN must not let Resolution 2334 be squandered

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