UNITED NATIONS

Western diplomats: UN vote on Israeli settlements postponed

This March 14, 2011 file photo shows a general view of a construction site in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit.

This March 14, 2011 file photo shows a general view of a construction site in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit.  (AP/Oded Balilty, File)

Two Western diplomats in New York say that an expected United Nations vote on a resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlement activities has been postponed. The diplomats, both of whom have knowledge of the process, spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to release the information.

One diplomat didn't give a time-frame for when the vote -- which had previously been set for 3 p.m. ET --  may now occur. The other said the matter has been postponed indefinitely as Egypt has bowed to Israeli pressure.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had urged the U.S. to use its veto power to block the resolution, which demands a halt to Israeli settlement activities in Palestinian territory and declares that all existing settlements "have no legal validity" and are "a flagrant violation" of international law.

The draft resolution, circulated by Egypt, also stresses that "the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-state solution" which would see Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side in peace.

The U.S. vetoed a similar resolution in 2011, but it was not immediately clear how U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power would vote Thursday. 

The U.S., along with China, France, Great Britain and Russia, is one of five permanent Security Council members with the power to kill any resolution.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said the resolution "will do nothing to promote a diplomatic process, and will only reward the Palestinian policy of incitement and terror."

"We expect our greatest ally not to allow this one-sided and anti-Israel resolution to be adopted by the council," he said.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, has said a cessation of all Israeli settlement activities and an end to its nearly 50-year occupation of Palestinian territory are necessary for a comprehensive peace agreement. Netanyahu has rejected those terms, saying negotiations should take place without conditions.

In September, the international diplomatic "quartet" of Mideast peacemakers called for Israel and the Palestinians to take steps to resume stalled peace talks.

But the gaps between Israeli and Palestinian leaders remain wide, preventing any meaningful talks since 2009.

The draft resolution calls for intensified and accelerated international and regional diplomatic efforts "aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

New Zealand, a non-permanent council member, has been pushing a separate resolution that would set out the parameters of a peace settlement.

Fox News' Jonathan Wachtel and the Associated Press contributed to this report.