On Saturday, Egypt announced that it had withdrawn its backing of a UN Security Council resolution on the construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory. The draft resolution had passed Security Council voting on Friday, with 14 of 15 permanent and rotating members supporting the initiative, and the US delegation abstaining from the vote.
The US traditionally uses its Security Council veto power to reject resolutions critical of Israel from passing, but this time President Obama instructed the US delegation not to do so, a move that political commentators see as a parting shot at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Trump.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu-Zeid explained that Egypt made the decision to withdraw its support for the resolution as part of an effort to 'weigh everything carefully', and not to spoil the chances of resolving the issue under the new US president.
Speaking to Sputnik Arabic about the drama at the UN, Mustafa Barghouti, leader of the Palestinian National Initiative, which sees itself as a moderate middle ground between Fatah and Hamas, admitted that the Egyptian decision was disappointing.
"Unfortunately, this decision by Egypt was a consequence of pressure from the US and Israel," Barghouti noted. "The Egyptian government and people have always supported the Palestinians, and I hope that this will stay the case in the future. This resolution is supported by all Arab countries."
Accordingly, he noted, "if the resolution is not carried out, then we Palestinians will need to appeal to the International Criminal Court and to every other international organization that the US will not be able to influence."
Pointing to Israel's plans for "military, political and economic dominance" in the Middle East, Barghouti warned that in a sense, "Israel poses a danger not just to Palestine, but to all countries in the region," Egypt included. For example, he noted, "Israel is now negotiating with Ethiopia on the construction of a dam which would substantially change the amount of water in the Nile that would reach Egypt."
Asked how Palestinian-Israeli relations might develop in the future under President Trump, Barghouti said that Palestine is looking at facing a "difficult period" ahead.
For example, Barghouti noted, Trump has picked David Friedman for the post of ambassador to Israel. "This person has been tasked with the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem, and is known for his fanatical devotion to Israel," the lawmaker stressed. "He personally financially supported the construction of settlements on occupied territories, and called on Israel to partially annex the West Bank," he added.
Accordingly, Barghouti said, if Israel continues to push forward with its settlements, and is not censured by Washington, "we will see the violation of international law, and the seizure of the territory of one state by another, by force."
"In the end, I'm certain that Trump will veto the resolution. Therefore, there is little time left to act," the politician stressed. Unfortunately, he noted, its possible that the other rotating members of the Security Council may also be influenced to change their positions, as Egypt did.