The Trump Effect
Israel Scuttles UN Settlement Vote, with Help from Trump

Egypt has abruptly postponed a UN vote on its own resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, after intense Israeli lobbying, and input from President-elect Donald Trump. The New York Times:

President-elect Donald J. Trump publicly pressured President Obama on Thursday to veto a United Nations resolution critical of Israel, the newly elected leader’s most direct intervention in foreign policy during his transition to power.

Mr. Trump called on the president to use the United States’ veto in the United Nations Security Council to block the Arab-sponsored resolution, which condemned the “construction and expansion” of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Obama administration, which vetoed a similar resolution in 2011, had withheld judgment over the latest measure.

With the United States’ position publicly in doubt, the resolution was pulled by its sponsor, Egypt, on Thursday morning, hours before the Council was scheduled to vote, and it was unclear when or even if it would be brought back up.

Israel’s successful effort to scuttle the vote, with the support of Donald Trump, signals once again that the Obama era of foreign policy is already over. It is unclear how the U.S. would have voted, but Obama has been a vocal critic of Netanyahu’s settlement policy, and abstaining from the UN vote would have been a final way to register his official disapproval.

Instead, Trump seized control of the narrative by publicly urging a veto of the “extremely unfair” resolution. His input appears to have played a part in changing Egypt’s calculation. When asked about the vote’s postponement, Egyptian diplomats quoted by Reuters mentioned that they were “looking for a way to ensure constructive relations with this new administration”, a sure sign that they care more about Trump’s posture than anything coming from the current White House.

As he did with the Taiwan call, Trump has proven his willingness to take Obama’s hands off the steering wheel and signal that the next administration will take a decidedly different line. His choice of David Friedman, an avid proponent of Netanyahu’s settlement policy, as U.S. ambassador to Israel only reinforces the message. A new era of U.S.-Israel relations is coming, and the rest of the world is already taking notice.

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