Netanyahu on UN Settlement Vote: Israel Will Not Turn the Other Cheek

Israel has evidence Obama behind UN settlements resolution, Israel's U.S. envoy Ron Dermer tells CNN, calling it a 'shameful chapter in U.S.-Israeli relations.'

File photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Likud ministers meeting, December 5, 2016.
File photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Likud ministers meeting, December 5, 2016. Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel's tough reaction to the United Nations Security Council resolution about settlements was intended to try and prevent additional global steps on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in coming weeks.

"Israel is a country with national pride, and we don't turn the other cheek," Netanyahu said at a ceremony launching an aid plan for northern Israel. "This is a wise, aggressive and responsible reaction, a natural response that makes it clear to the nations of the world that what took place at the UN is unacceptable to us. This response has perpetual importance even if there will be an attempt or two to hurt us in the coming month."

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Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Kellyanne Conway at Trump Tower, November 17, 2016.
MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

Netanyahu rejected the criticism by the media and political opposition to his reaction, saying only a tough response would change the way Israel is treated. "I suggest - enough of this exile mentality," Netanyahu said.

"There is no political wisdom to groveling. Our relations with other countries will not only be unharmed, over time they shall actually improve. Other countries respect strong nations that stand up for themselves, and they do not respect weak countries that grovel and bow their heads."

Also on Monday, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine was summoned by the foreign ministry in Kiev to clarify Netanyahu’s canceling the visit of the Ukrainian prime minister over Ukraine's support of the UN vote. In a statement, one of the main reasons Ukraine cited for its support of the resolution against the settlements is the Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula and eastern Ukraine. 

Enovy: Israel has evidence Obama was behind the UN resolution

Israel has evidence that U.S. President Obama's administration is behind Friday's Security Council resolution, Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer told CNN on Monday.

"We will present this evidence to the new administration through the appropriate channels. If they want to share it with the American people they are welcome to do it," Dermer told CNN.

According to Dermer, not only did the U.S. not stand by Israel's side during the vote, it "was behind this ganging up on Israel at the UN." Dermer said it was "a sad day and a shameful chapter in U.S.-Israeli relations."

Dermer reiterated the message in subsequent interviews with MSNBC and FOX, saying Israel has evidence that the Obama administration was behind the wording of the Security Council resolution and plugged to advance it.

The White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, denied these claims in an interview with Channel 2. Rhodes said the resolution was worded and pushed by Egypt and the United States decided to abstain because the wording reflected its position on settlements.

Rhodes said the White House is disappointed at the strong and personal reactions by the Prime Minister's Office against President Obama, especially in light of the unprecedented military aid his administration has given Israel during his eight years in office.

Rhodes said further that Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to deliver a speech in which he will lay out the administration's vision for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But the White House will not advance any additional diplomatic steps on the issue before the end of its term of office on January 20, Rhodes said.

In his first public reaction to the vote, Netanyahu said Saturday that the Obama administration has carried out an underhanded and an anti-Israel maneuver at the UN Security Council.

Read more on the Security Council resolution: Obama, where have you been for 8 wasted years? / Analysis | Why the Palestinians are jubilant and Israel is spooked / Analysis | Security Council punch knocks Netanyahu down from hubris to humiliation / Analysis | What will the immediate ramifications of the UN resolution be?

The United States abstained in the UN Security Council vote, paving its way for adoption with the support of the other 14 members. An official who spoke with Haaretz said the American abstention was foreseen and that Netanyahu had also warned Israel's inner security cabinet that it could occur.

Netanyahu called the resolution "crazy" and assured the Israeli public that it would be overcome. Israel's relations with the United Nations, he said, would be reviewed, and as a first step, Israeli funding for UN institutions that he said were particularly hostile would be halted immediately.

"We reject the resolution from the outset," he said, adding that it describes the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall as occupied territory. "The resolution not only doesn’t bring peace closer. It pushes it further away," he said.

The prime minister stated that all U.S. presidents since Jimmy Carter, to whom he referred as "a very hostile president to Israel," have promised not to dictate peace terms to Israel at the UN Security Council. Netanyahu called Friday's UN vote a breach of that commitment.

Recalling the 1975 United Nations General Assembly resolution equating Zionism and racism, which was ultimately repealed, Netanyahu said this resolution will also be defeated.

"We are not alone," he said, recounting that he had spoken to members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, who have pledge to fight to resolution and who Netanyahu said told him "We won't allow anyone to harm the State of Israel."