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UN Security Council to vote on halting Israel settlements: diplomats

Update: December, 22/2016 - 15:00
UNITED NATIONS, United States  The UN Security Council will vote on Thursday on an Egyptian-drafted resolution demanding that Israel immediately halt its settlement activities in the Palestinian territories and east Jerusalem.
 
A similar resolution was vetoed by the United States in 2011, and it remained uncertain if the measure would be adopted this time.
 
Egypt circulated the draft late Wednesday and a vote was scheduled for 3 pm local time on Thursday.
 
The United Nations maintains that settlements are illegal and has repeatedly called on Israel to halt them, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months.
 
The draft resolution demanded that "Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem."
 
Israeli settlements are seen as major stumbling block to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
 
The draft states that Israeli settlements are "dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution" that would see an independent state of Palestine co-exist alongside Israel.
 
It stresses that halting settlements was "essential for salvaging the two-state solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground."
 
The measure calls for "immediate steps" to prevent acts of violence against civilians, but does not specifically single out the Palestinians to stop incitement, as demanded by Israel.
 
UN diplomats have for weeks speculated as to whether the administration of US President Barack Obama would decide to refrain from using its veto to block a draft resolution condemning Israel.
 
Obama’s administration has expressed mounting anger over Israeli settlement policy and speculation has grown that he could launch a final initiative before leaving.
 
Israel last month revived plans to build 500 new homes for Jewish settlers in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, after Donald Trump won the US presidential election.  AFP

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