Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu spoke out forcefully against a U.N. Security Council resolution that condemns Israeli settlements, calling it “shameful” and saying that Israel would not abide by its terms.
The resolution criticizes Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that the Palestinians hope for a future state one day, and says the settlements “altered the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.”
The resolution passed with 14 votes to 0. The United States, in a break with tradition, decided to abstain from the vote. It was the first U.N. resolution to condemn Israel in more than 30 years.
“The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the U.N., it colluded with it behind the scenes,” Netanyahu wrote in a strongly worded statement, which was unusually released on Shabbos.
The resolution, initially brought by the Egyptians, had been scheduled for a vote on Thursday. Israeli pressure and a push from president-elect Donald Trump caused the Egyptians to table it. It was revived Friday by other members of the Security Council.
Immediately after the vote, Netanyahu ordered a series of diplomatic steps against countries that co-sponsored the resolution and with whom Israel has diplomatic relations.
He instructed Israel’s ambassadors in New Zealand and Senegal to return to Israel immediately and cancelled the Senegalese foreign minister’s planned visit to Israel. He also cancelled Israeli aid programs in Senegal.
In his statement, Netanyahu also said he looked forward to working with Trump.
Since the election, Netanyahu and his ministers have refrained from making public statements about Trump, but subtle words and gestures have suggested that the Israeli leadership is buoyed by having a new administration.
So far, Trump has indicated he might approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a different manner to Obama. Last week, he nominated his close adviser, New York lawyer David Friedman, an outspoken supporter of Israel’s settlements, as the ambassador to Israel.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Israeli TV that the resolution was not only anti-settlements but against Israel and Jews in general.
“The heart aches after eight years of friendship and cooperation with Obama,” he said. “The U.N. Security Council can’t make a decision on Syria but on this issue, the U.S., Obama and John Kerry allow it to pass.”
Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon expressed disappointment that the United States had not used its veto power in the Security Council to stop the resolution.
“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 U.S. administration and the incoming U.N. Secretary General will usher in a new era in terms of the U.N.’s relationship with Israel.”
The Palestinians called the U.N. approval of the resolution “a victory.”
Saeb Erekat, a former peace negotiator and the number two in the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the vote was a “clear and unanimous message to Netanyahu that “your policies will not achieve peace and security for Israel or the region.”
“The only way to peace is through the creation of an independent Palestinian state, and this is what the international community agreed upon today at the Security Council,” he said.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Ruth Eglash