UN Security Council to vote Friday on Israeli settlements

UN Security Council to vote Friday on Israeli settlements
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The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Friday on a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements, one day after a vote on the controversial measure was postponed. 
 
The decision to forge ahead was made after four council members — New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal — requested a vote, according to Reuters and Israeli newspaper Haaretz. 
 
The vote is expected to take place at 3 p.m. 
 
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The Security Council was scheduled to take up the measure Thursday afternoon. But its sponsor, Egypt, decided to postpone a vote under heavy pressure from the Israeli government.  
 
The U.S. was reportedly poised to allow the draft resolution to pass by abstention. It would have been a departure from longstanding American policy of blocking U.N. actions Israel deems to be hostile.
 
 
Critics called Trump’s involvement inappropriate because he has not yet been inaugurated and his actions could undermine the sitting U.S. president. 
 
But Trump’s team defended the move. 
 
“President Obama and his team have been unbelievably gracious to the president-elect and his team,” incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday on CNN. “But at the end of the day, he's not someone that's going to sit back and wait.”
 
Spicer said Trump had been in touch with Egyptian and Israeli officials about stopping the vote. 
 
“He wanted to make it very clear that anything that undermined Israel, which is a great friend of the United States, he was going to make sure his voice was heard,” the spokesman said. “And it worked.”
 
But now the vote is back on, which will revive a long-running debate over Israeli settlements. 
 
Critics of Israel’s settlement policy, including the current U.S. administration, believe building housing in the West Bank is an obstacle to peace talks with the Palestinians. Other nations call it a violation of international law. 
 
But Israel says the settlements are legal and that their future should be decided in direct negotiations with the Palestinians and not at the U.N.