The U.S. has averted a potential diplomatic crisis over Israeli settlements on the West Bank.
The crisis would have threatened to overshadow ongoing Western efforts for the United Nations to spotlight Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which will hit its one-year anniversary this week.
At the United Nations Security Council on Sunday, there was a contentious resolution being pushed for a vote that would have condemned Israel for settlement expansion, and demanded a halt to future activity.
But the U.S. successfully managed to table the resolution vote for now, as it would have likely resulted in a U.S. veto of the draft resolution.
The draft resolution would have been legally binding if voted upon.
Diplomats said the U.S. administration managed to convince both Israel and the Palestinians to agree in principle to a six-month freeze in any unilateral action they might take.
For Israel, that means a commitment to not expanding settlements on the West Bank until at least August. For Palestinians, it means a commitment not to pursue action against Israel at the U.N. or other international bodies for the same amount of time.
Instead of a resolution, the diplomats said the Security Council would adopt a weaker presidential statement along the lines of the resolution.
Presidential statements, which require support from all 15 council nations, become part of the council’s record but are not legally binding like how draft resolutions are.
The draft resolution would have demanded Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.” Resolutions need nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Russia, China, France, or Britain to be adopted.
A veto of the settlements resolution would have been a political headache for President Joe Biden as he approaches the 2024 presidential election.
Biden is trying to balance his opposition to Israeli settlements and his support for a two-state resolution. He also is trying to improve U.S. ties with the Palestinians, which has wide support among progressive supporters.