US pushes back against Israeli claims of collusion with Palestinians over UN vote

Reports that the administration will allow the resolution to pass are "premature," an official added.

December 23, 2016 19:05
2 minute read.
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US President Barack Obama speaks at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony, organised by Yad Vashem, at Israel's Embassy in Washington January 27, 2016. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON -- The White House has not been behind a push for a resolution at the UN Security Council condemning Israel's settlement enterprise, a senior Obama administration told The Jerusalem Post on Friday, insisting that claims to the contrary are baseless.

Reports that the administration will allow the resolution to pass are "premature," the official added.

The administration is pushing back against a furious Israeli government that has determined US President Barack Obama intends to abstain from the vote, allowing a resolution harshly critical of its actions to pass. Furthermore, Israeli officials are claiming that Obama orchestrated the effort with their Palestinian counterparts.

"To be clear: from the start, this was an Egyptian resolution," a senior official told the Post. "The Egyptians authored it, circulated it, and submitted it for a vote on Wednesday evening before asking for a delay and subsequently removing their sponsorship. A group of other Security Council members, not including the United States, is now moving forward the Egyptian text."

"Contrary to some claims, the administration was not involved in formulating the resolution nor have we promoted it," the official added. "We have not communicated to any UN Security Council members how the United States would vote if the resolution comes before the UN Security Council."

After Egypt pulled its resolution last minute— prompted by pressure from both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Donald Trump— New Zealand took up the cause this morning, adopting their published text.

The resolution tracks with longstanding US policy that Israel's settlement activity in the West Bank is illegal, and damages the peace process.

Once Israel came to the conclusion that Obama was likely to abstain, officials from the government at a "high level" contacted the incoming president's team to intervene. The Israelis gave the White House warning it would do so, they said.

A senior Israeli official said on Friday that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry pushed a "shameful" draft anti-settlement resolution at the UN Security Council.

"The US administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel's back which would be a tailwind for terror and boycotts," the official said.

The official added that "President Obama could declare his willingness to veto this resolution in an instant but instead is pushing it. This is an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration of advancing peace."

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