Israel reacted furiously Saturday to the anti-settlement resolution passed a day earlier in the UN, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that he spoke with leaders in the incoming Trump administration – as well as both Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress – and vowed an all-out fight against the measure.
“When I spoke yesterday with congressional leaders and the incoming US administration, they told me most clearly: “We are fed up and it will not last. We will change this decision, we will not let anyone harm the State of Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu directed his fury at US President Barack Obama, saying that since the days of president Jimmy Carter, whom he described as hostile to Israel, “all American presidents stood by a commitment to not try to dictate terms of a permanent settlement to Israel through the UN Security Council.
“And yesterday, in stark contrast to this commitment, including an explicit commitment of President Obama himself in 2011, the Obama administration took a shameful anti-Israel step at the UN. I want to tell you that the decision not only does not bring peace closer, but it makes it more distant. It undermines justice and truth,” he said.
“Think about this absurdity,” the prime minister continued.
“Half a million people are being slaughtered in Syria, tens of thousands slaughtered in Sudan, the Middle East is in flames and the Obama administration and the Security Council choose to pick on the only democracy in the Middle East – the State of Israel. What a shame.”
The resolution, sponsored by New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia, demands an end to all Israeli construction beyond the Green Line, and calls on the world to differentiate in its dealings with the Jewish state between preand post-1967 Israel. It passed by a vote of 14 to 0, with only the US abstaining. A no vote by the US would have killed the resolution.
Netanyahu, at a candle- lighting ceremony with injured IDF soldiers, said that Israel utterly rejects the resolution, just as it rejected the 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism.
“It took time, but that decision has been canceled, it will take time and this resolution will also be canceled,” he said.
He said it will be canceled not through Israeli withdrawals, but by Israel standing firm with its allies.
Netanyahu said that the congressional leaders and key personalities in the Trump administration he spoke to are saying they want to pass legislation that would punish countries and organizations that try to harm Israel. “They say it also includes the United Nations itself, and I remind you that the United Nations gets a quarter of its budget from the US alone,” he added.
Alluding to President-elect Donald Trump, Netanyahu said, “The old world bias against Israel is coming to an end. We are entering a new era,” he said. And in the new era, he added, there will be a price for those trying to harm Israel, and the price will be extracted not only by the United States, but also by Israel.
He announced that Israel has recalled for consultations the ambassador to Senegal and New Zealand, and has halted all Israeli aid to Senegal.
Netanyahu said that Israel has much to offer the countries of the world, and that there will from now on be a “political and economic cost” for those who work against Israel.
Trump himself, in a tweet on Friday night, said: "As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th"
Additionally, he said he has instructed the Foreign Ministry to complete a reevaluation of Israel’s engagements with the UN, including funding its institution and the presence of UN representatives in the country. He said he already ordered a stop payment on some NIS 30 million Israel pays to five UN institutions “particularly hostile to Israel.”
Senior diplomatic sources described the US abstention on the resolution as Obama’s last act of “sticking it” to Israel. “Now everyone can understand better what we have dealt with for the last eight years,” the source said.
The source also said that the move was expected, and that Netanyahu held discussions on the eventuality in the security cabinet.
Another senior source said that Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry were behind the move.
“The US administration’s secretary cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israel resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tailwind for terrorism and boycotts, and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory,” he said.
The source said that while Obama could have vetoed the resolution, he instead pushed it.
“The is an abandonment of Israel which break decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration in advancing peace,” he added.
The Republican leadership in Congress also reacted with fury at the Obama administration’s decision to abstain from the vote.
“Our unified Republican government will work to reverse the damage done by this administration, and rebuild our alliance with Israel,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina threatened to campaign for a bipartisan consensus in Congress that would punish those who pushed for the resolution with a cut in US aid – as well as the UN itself, which relies on generous congressional appropriations.
Already, Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and James Lankford of Oklahoma signaled support for Graham’s initiative, which an Obama administration official said on Friday would only harm US interests if pursued.
“I anticipate this vote will create a backlash in Congress against the United Nations,” Graham said. “The organization is increasingly viewed as antisemitic and seems to have lost all sense of proportionality. I will do everything in my power, working with the new administration and Congress, to leave no doubt about where America stands when it comes to the peace process and where we stand with the only true democracy in the Middle East.”
Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon responded harshly to the American decision and stated that “neither the Security Council nor UNESCO can sever the tie between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel.
“It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share and that they would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution,” he said. “I have no doubt that the new US administration and the incoming UN secretary- general will usher in a new era in terms of the UN’s relationship with Israel.”
During his speech to the Security Council, Danon pointed fingers at the member states.
“This is a dark day for this council,” he said. “The resolution you just voted on is the peak of hypocrisy. While thousands are being massacred in Syria, this council wasted valuable time and effort condemning the democratic State of Israel for building homes in the historic homeland of the Jewish people.
“By voting yes in favor of this resolution, you have in fact voted no,” he continued.
“You voted no to negotiations, you voted no to progress and a chance for better lives for Israelis and Palestinians, and you voted no to the possibility of peace.”
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