Following yesterday’s unexpected vote in the United Nations, when the United States broke with a long-standing approach of diplomatically shielding Israel, and did not wield its veto power as it had on many prior occasions – a decision Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu called “shameful” – leading to the adoption of a resolution demanding an end to Israel settlement building, Israel said it would re-assess its ties with the United Nations. It also said it would not comply with the resolution, suggesting it may now be a “rogue nation” when it comes to UN enforcement.
Israel for decades has pursued a policy of constructing Jewish settlements on territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Most countries view Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees, citing a biblical connection to the land, and blames the failure of peace efforts on the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel’s Jewish identity.
And, until yesterday, the US would traditionally turn its eyes away from global anti-Israel consensus (it, too, officially opposes the settlements) and always veto any UN decisions going against Israel.
Then everything changed, when defying heavy pressure from long-time ally Israel the United States abstained in the Security Council decision, which passed with 14 votes in favor. The decision to abstain from vote is one of the biggest American rebukes of its long-standing ally in recent memory and marked a final chapter in the icy relations between Netanyahu and Obama over the last eight years.
It was unclear if the Obama administration voted as it did mostly to spite Trump, who previously tweeted that Washington should use its veto, and after the vote tweeted that “as to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”
Whatever the reason, Israel – and its leader – were furious: “I instructed the Foreign Ministry to complete within a month a re-evaluation of all our contacts with the United Nations, including the Israeli funding of U.N. institutions and the presence of U.N. representatives in Israel,” Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks reported by Reuters.
“I have already instructed to stop about 30 million shekels ($7.8 million) in funding to five U.N. institutions, five bodies, that are especially hostile to Israel … and there is more to come,” he said, without naming the institutions or offering further details.
Netanyahu also lashed out at President Barack Obama on Saturday, accusing him of a “shameful ambush” at the United Nations and saying he is looking forward to working with his “friend” President-elect Donald Trump” according to AP.
The resolution, while mostly symbolic, could hinder Israel’s negotiating position in future peace talks. Netanyahu also said the U.S abstention was “in complete contrast” to U.S. commitments, including one he said Obama made in 2011, not to impose conditions for a final agreement on Israel at the Security Council.
“The Obama Administration conducted a shameful anti-Israel ambush at the U.N.,” Netanyahu said, calling the decision “distorted” but said that Israel will overcome it.
He said he spoke with U.S leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, who vowed to fight the move, including he said, from Israel’s “friend” in the incoming administration, i.e., Trump.
“The decision taken at the U.N. yesterday was part of the swan song of the old world biased against Israel,” Netanyahu said. “We are entering a new era and as the President-elect Trump said yesterday, this is going to happen much quicker than people think. In this new era there is a high price for those trying to harm Israel,” he said.
Needless to say, the Palestinians wholeheartedly welcomed the U.N. resolution.
Ermmm, … is that a Trump puppet on that table, or what?
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