Trump, Netanyahu urge Obama to veto UN resolution regarding Israeli-Palestinian conflict

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump echoed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in urging the Obama administration on Thursday to veto a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that calls for an immediate halt to settlement building on occupied land Palestinians seek for a state.

Netanyahu took to Twitter in the dead of night in Israel to make the appeal, in a sign of concern that President Barack Obama might take a parting shot at a policy he has long opposed and at a right-wing Israeli leader with whom he has had a rocky relationship.

Hours later, Trump, posting on Twitter and Facebook, backed fellow conservative Netanyahu on one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the pursuit - effectively stalled since 2014 - of a two-state solution.

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, left, looks on as U.S. President Barack Obama, speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. Benjamin Netanyahu is looking past his fraught relationship with President Barack Obama to a more lasting concern as he visits Washington next week: rebuilding IsraelÃs standing with American Democrats. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
US President Barack Obama(R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, November 9, 2015. Netanyahu meets Obama in a bid to set aside their frosty personal ties, turn the page on the Iran nuclear deal and talk defense in the first encounter by the two leaders since October 2014. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 3: (AFP OUT) Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) sits with U.S. President Barack Obama during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House March 3, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Obama urged Netanyahu to 'seize the moment' to make peace, saying time is running out of time to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, September 30, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama hugs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) prior to departing from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 22, 2013. Following a three-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, his first as president, Obama fly to Amman for talks and a private dinner with King Abdullah II, after wrapping up his trip to the Holy Land with a visit to Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MARCH 22: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout photograph supplied by the Government Press Office of Israel (GPO), U.S. President Barack Obama visits the children's memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum with (L-R) Israel's President Shimon Peres, Israel's Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau during a visit to Yad Vashem at Mount Herzl on March 22, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. This is Obama's first visit as president to the region and his itinerary includes meetings with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders as well as a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. (Photo by Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama walks alongside Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) after placing a wreath during a ceremony at the grave of Theodor Herzl at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, on March 22, 2013, on the final day of Obama's 3-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MARCH 22: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout photograph supplied by the Government Press Office of Israel (GPO), U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu place their arms around each other during a visit to Mount Herzl on March 22, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. This is Obama's first visit as president to the region and his itinerary includes meetings with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders as well as a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. (Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MARCH 21: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout image supplied by the Government Press Office of Israel (GPO) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and U.S. President Barack Obama visit the shrine of the book on March 21, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. This is President Obama's first visit as president to the region, and his itinerary includes meetings with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders as well as a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. (Photo by Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama greet each other during a joint press conference at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, on March 20, 2013, on the first day of Obama's three day trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - MARCH 20: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an official welcoming ceremony on his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport on March, 20, 2013 near Tel Aviv, Israel. This will be Obama's first visit as president to the region, and his itinerary will include meetings with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders as well as a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. (Photo by Marc Israel Sellem-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama sits next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a welcome ceremony at Israels International Ben Gurion airport on March 20, 2013. Obama landed in Israel for the first time as US president, on a mission to ease past tensions with his hosts and hoping to paper over differences on handling Iran's nuclear threat. AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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"The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed," Trump said.

"As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.

"This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis," he wrote.

After Trump's statement, a U.S. administration official said: "We have no comment at this time."

Egypt circulated the draft on Wednesday evening and the 15-member council is due to vote at 3 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) on Thursday, diplomats said. It was unclear, they said, how the United States, which has protected Israel from U.N. action, would vote.

The resolution would demand Israel "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem".

The White House declined to comment. Some diplomats hope Obama will allow Security Council action by abstaining on the vote.

Israel's security cabinet was due to hold a special session at 1500 GMT (1000 ET) to discuss the issue. Israeli officials voiced concern that passage of the resolution would embolden the Palestinians to seek international sanctions against Israel.

In Beirut, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters that Paris was looking at the text of the resolution with great interest.

"The continuation of settlements is completely weakening the situation on the ground and creating a lot of tension," he said. "It is taking away the prospect of a two-state solution. So this could reaffirm our disagreement with this policy."

OBAMA CRITICAL OF SETTLEMENTS

Obama's administration has been highly critical of settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. U.S. officials said this month, however, the president was not expected to make major moves on Israeli-Palestinian peace before leaving office.

Tweeting at 3:28 a.m., Netanyahu said the United States "should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday".

Israel's far-right and settler leaders have been buoyed by the election of Trump, the Republican presidential candidate. He has already signaled a possible change in U.S. policy by appointing one his lawyers - a fundraiser for a major Israeli settlement - as Washington's new ambassador to Israel.

Netanyahu, for whom settlers are a key component of his electoral base, has said his right-wing government has been their greatest ally since the capture of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a 1967 war.

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Some legislators in his right-wing Likud party have already suggested Israel declare sovereignty over the West Bank if the United States does not veto the resolution.

That prospect seemed unlikely, but Netanyahu could opt to step up building in settlements as a sign of defiance of Obama and support for settlers.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem its capital, a claim that is not recognized internationally.

In 2011, the United States vetoed a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements after the Palestinians refused a compromise offer from Washington.

Israel's U.N. ambassador Danny Danon said on Israeli Army Radio: "In a few hours we will receive the answer from our American friends."

"I hope very much it will be the same one we received in 2011 when the version was very similar to the one proposed now and the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time, Susan Rice, vetoed it."

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The draft text says the establishment of settlements by Israel has "no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law".

It expresses grave concern that continuing settlement activities "are dangerously imperilling the viability of a two-state solution".

The United States says continued Israeli settlement building lacks legitimacy, but has stopped short of adopting the position of many countries that it is illegal under international law. Some 570,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted.

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