After the UN Security Council passed a resolution on Friday calling on Israel to halt its settlement activity on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, with the US abstaining and the remaining fourteen Security Council members voting in favor, US President-elect Donald Trump tweeted the message: "'As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th", the date he is due to take office. A senior White House official said "Barack Obama is still president of the United States." "In the absence of any meaningful peace process, as well as in the face of the acceleration of settlement activity that put at risk the viability of a two-state solution, we took the steps we did today," said Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser.
At the start of today's weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "I share ministers' feelings, anger and frustration vis-à-vis the unbalanced resolution that is very hostile to the State of Israel, and which the Security Council passed in an unworthy manner. From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed. This is, of course, in complete contradiction of the traditional American policy that was committed to not trying to dictate terms for a permanent agreement, and, of course, the explicit commitment of President Obama himself, in 2011, to refrain from such steps.
"We will do whatever is necessary so that Israel will not be damaged by this shameful resolution and I also tell the ministers here, we must act prudently, responsibly and calmly, in both actions and words. I ask ministers to act responsibly as per the directives that will be given today at the Security Cabinet meeting immediately following this meeting. I have also asked the Foreign Ministry to prepare an action plan regarding the UN and other international elements, which will be submitted to the Security Cabinet within one month. Until then, of course, we will consider our steps," Netanyahu said.
This was the first time in 36 years that the US had refrained from using its veto in the Security Council to kill off an anti-Israel resolution. Although the resolution that was passed carries no enforcement measures, it represents an important symbolic victory for the Palestinians as it gives official international backing to their opposition to Israeli settlements, and implicitly to the occupation altogether, not just from Third World countries that almost automatically vote against Israel but also from Western countries.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 urges an end to Israeli settlements, communities Israel built on lands it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. It calls the settlements "a flagrant violation under international law."
At a Hannukah lighting ceremony last night, Netanyahu said that Israel utterly rejected the resolution. "The resolution that was adopted yesterday at the United Nations is distorted and shameful but we will overcome it. The resolution determines that the Jewish Quarter is 'occupied territory'. This is delusional. The resolution determines that the Western Wall is 'occupied territory'. This too is delusional. There is nothing more absurd than calling the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter occupied territory. There is also an attempt here, which will not succeed, to impose permanent settlement terms on Israel," he said.
"I spoke last night with many American leaders. I was pleased to hear from members of the American Congress, from Democrats and Republicans alike, that they will fight an all-out war against this resolution with all the power at their disposal," the prime minister added, and continued, "I heard the exact same things from our friends in the incoming administration, who said that they will fight an all-out war against this resolution. And I heard this from across the spectrum of American public opinion and American politics - Republicans, Democrats, Jews and non-Jews. As I spoke yesterday with leaders in Congress and the incoming American administration, they told me unequivocally: 'We are sick of this and it will not continue. We will change this resolution. We will not allow anyone to harm the State of Israel.' They are declaring their intention to pass legislation to punish countries and bodies that try to harm Israel. They say that this will also include the UN itself. I remind you that the UN receives a quarter, 25%, of its budget from the US alone. 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. And just as President-elect Trump said yesterday, it will happen much sooner than you think. In the new era there is a much higher price for those who try to harm Israel, and that the price will be exacted not only by the US, but by Israel as well."
The Prime Minster's Office said in a statement, "the Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes. Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution."
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said after Friday's vote, "This is a day of victory for international law, a victory for civilized language and negotiation and a total rejection of extremist forces in Israel. The international community has told the people of Israel that the way to security and peace is not going to be done through occupation, but rather through peace, ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state to live side by side with the state of Israel on the 1967 line."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 25, 2016
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