France Expected to Support 'Balanced' Anti-settlement Security Council Resolution, Envoy Says

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Francois Hollande and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Francois Hollande and Benjamin Netanyahu.Credit: אבי אוחיון / לע"מ

>> UPDATE: UN Security Council Vote on Settlements Postponed After Israel Pressured Egypt

The French ambassador to Israel said Thursday that the draft UN Security Council resolution against the settlements submitted by Egypt is balanced and matches France's position, and that she expects her country to support it.

Egypt presented the UN Security Council on Wednesday night with a draft resolution against Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Security Council vote is set to take place at 10:00 P.M. Israel time.

Construction in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, 2014.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

In a briefing to diplomatic reporters, French Ambassador to Israel Helene Le Gal said the Egyptian draft resolution is more balanced than another version distributed to Security Council members two weeks ago by the Palestinians. The resolution, she said, does not talk about the settlements exclusively, but also speaks of the need to stop the violence and terrorism and to prevent all incitement from the Palestinian side.

The ambassador said that the resolution was sent from New York to Paris last night and discussions were currently being held on the matter, to decide how to vote. She stressed that the Egyptian version is in sync with France’s declared positions on the settlement issue.

“There is no decision yet. We voted for similar text before and I assume the direction will be to support the Egyptian resolution,” Le Gal told the reporters.

Le Gal also said that it was Israel’s settlement policy, in particular the advancement of the outpost legalization bill, that pushed Egypt and the international community to promote an anti-settlement resolution in the Security Council. The statements by some Israeli ministers that Israel should launch a wave of settlement construction and take the two-state solution off the table also gave a push to the Security Council move, she added.

“A resolution in the Security Council has a lot of weight. If the resolution passes it will show both sides and especially Israel that the international community is very worried by the settlements and see them as an obstacle to peace. The tendency in Israel to say ‘the whole world is against us’ is wrong. We say all those things against the settlements because we are with Israel, not against it,” the ambassador said.

A senior Israeli official said the Egyptian move surprised Israel, the United States and a large part of the Security Council's members. The draft resolution states that the settlements have "no legal validity" and that Israel must completely halt settlement construction. It also calls on the international community to clearly distinct between Israel proper and the settlements.

According to the senior Israeli officials, the Americans have yet to decide how they will vote. The White House and the State Department did not respond on the matter. Netanyahu, meanwhile, tweeted that "The U.S. should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council on Thursday."

In preparation for the vote, Netanyahu canceled his inauguration of a cyber center in the southern city of Be'er Sheva, which was scheduled for later on Thursday.

In recent months, Netanyahu expressed his concern that toward the end of his term Obama would refrain from vetoing a resolution on the settlements at the Security Council. Since taking office in 2009, Obama vetoed a resolution presented to the Security Council once – in February 2011, when the Palestinians brought to a vote a resolution against the settlements.

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