Israel’s anger mounted for a second day after Friday’s United Nations snub, when on Sunday it summoned ambassadors of countries from the UN Security Council for a Christmas Day reprimand for their support of a resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian lands. The vote passed in the 15-member Security Council on Friday because the United States broke with its long-standing approach of diplomatically shielding Israel and did not wield, as a permanent member of the forum, its veto power, instead abstaining.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Netanyahu lashed out at the US, calling Obama’s behavior a “shameful ambush”, warning he would re-evaluate his contacts with (and defund) the United Nations, while saying he looks forward to working with his “friend” Donald Trump. Then on Sunday, Netanyahu put his personal imprint on the show of anger by repeating at the weekly cabinet meeting what an unidentified Israeli government official contended on Friday – that Washington had conspired with the Palestinians to push for the resolution’s adoption. The White House has denied the allegation
“According to our information, we have no doubt the Obama administration initiated it (the resolution), stood behind it, coordinated the wording and demanded it be passed,” Netanyahu told the cabinet in public remarks. “The resolution that was passed at the UN yesterday is part of the swan song of the old world that is biased against Israel but, my friends, we are entering a new era,” Mr Netanyahu said at a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony. “And just as President-elect Trump said yesterday, it will happen much sooner than you think.”
One can only hope that in this “new era” airplanes full of world-famous army singers are not targeted in retaliation for diplomatic scandals.
Ambassadors from 10 of the 14 countries that voted in favor of the resolution and have embassies in Israel – Britain, China, Russia, France, Egypt, Japan, Uruguay, Spain, Ukraine and New Zealand – were summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the ministry said.
Moments ago, the Haaretz newspaper added that Netanyahu had also summoned the US ambassador.
BREAKING: NETANYAHU SUMMONS US AMBASSADOR DAN SHAPIRO OVER SECURITY COUNCIL VOTE, PM OFFICE OFFICIAL SAYS
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) December 25, 2016
The move came as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a visit to Israel by Volodymyr Groysman, his Ukrainian counterpart, and accused US President Barack Obama of “disgraceful” behaviour for failing to exercise the US veto. Mr Groysman had due to arrive in Israel on Wednesday on his first official visit to the Jewish state. As reported yesterday, Israel will also suspend some of its funding to the UN, Netanyahu said in a vituperative speech on Saturday evening, in which he warned of further diplomatic and economic retaliation against countries that opposed Israel in international bodies. The Israeli leader vowed to work with incoming US President Donald Trump and members of Congress to fight “all-out war against this resolution”, in his sharpest public attack ever on Mr Obama.
Sunday is a regular work day in Israel, but most embassies are closed, and calling in envoys on Christmas Day is highly unusual Reuters adds.
At the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu described a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, when Israel and President-elect Donald Trump successfully pressed Egypt to drop the anti-settlement resolution it had put forward. It was resubmitted a day later by New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia.
“Over decades American administrations and Israeli governments disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the security council was not the place to resolve this issue,” Netanyahu said.
“We knew that going there would make negotiations harder and drive peace farther away. As I told John Kerry on Thursday, ‘Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council’,” he said, switching from Hebrew to English.
Israel has pursued a policy of constructing settlements on territory it captured in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbors – the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, areas Palestinians seek for a state.
Most countries view the settlement activity as illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees, citing biblical and historical connections to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as security interests.
Netanyahu’s government is likely to get new support in pursuing hardline policies toward the Palestinians when Mr Trump, who has promised to be the most pro-Israel president in history, takes office on January 20 the FT notes. Foreign diplomats in Israel had, before Friday’s vote, speculated that Mr Obama might withhold the US veto on a resolution critical of Israel as a way of putting down legal parameters on the conflict and the two-state solution before leaving office.
Mr Trump said on Saturday that the UN vote was “a big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace.”
“All American presidents since (Jimmy) Carter upheld the American commitment not to try to dictate permanent settlement terms to Israel at the Security Council,” Mr Netanyahu said on Saturday evening. “And yesterday, in complete contradiction of this commitment, including an explicit commitment by President Obama himself in 2011, the Obama carried out a shameful anti-Israel ploy at the UN.”
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