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Editorial

The UN Settlements Vote: Netanyahu Is Dragging Israel Into the Abyss

With his destructive reaction, Netanyahu is shutting down channels for dialogue with countries that Israel needs now and in the future | Editorial

Netanyahu and wife Sara, at a firefighting charity event, Dec 26 2016
Netanyahu and wife Sara, at a firefighting charity event, Dec 26 2016 Rami Shllush

As Israel’s diplomatic defeat at the UN Security Council becomes clearer, it’s equally clear why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stubbornly insists on being foreign minister as well. Netanyahu doesn’t want anyone interfering as he destroys diplomatic relations with the countries, some friendly to Israel, that “dared” to vote for the resolution declaring the settlements illegal. The burial of the Foreign Ministry and the abandonment of diplomacy turns out to be part of a broad and dangerous plan to disengage from international law and stop playing by its rules.

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“Travel less frequently in the near future to those countries that voted against us; restrain yourselves,” Netanyahu told his ministers Sunday. In the meantime, he can restrain himself from punishing the world for his mistakes.

As part of this punishment, he sent his close associate, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, to television studios to hint that he has proof that the Obama administration was behind the advancement of the UN resolution. “We have clear evidence [and] we will present this evidence to the new administration,” Dermer threatened. “If they want to share it with the American people they are welcome to do it.”

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This destruction campaign has gone global. Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry to almost totally halt work relations with 12 of the countries that voted for the resolution. As part of these “sanctions,” ministers will reduce travel to these countries to a minimum and Netanyahu will not receive their foreign ministers. He has already turned down meetings with his British and Chinese counterparts.

Netanyahu is shutting down channels for dialogue with countries that Israel needs now and in the future. Because of his famous paranoia regarding diplomatic affairs, he fears that other moves are afoot in the final weeks of U.S. President Barack Obama’s term. He’s particularly spooked by a meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for January 15 in Paris where, according to a senior official in Jerusalem, the United States and France may advance some other diplomatic move as part of the French peace initiative.

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

This catastrophe is taking place while there is no full-time foreign minister to explain to Netanyahu the enormous damage he’s doing, and while to his left stands a defense minister who calls the Paris peace conference “a modern-day Dreyfus trial against the entire Jewish people” and calls on French Jews to move to Israel. To his right stands an education minister who’s urging him to annex Area C of the West Bank.

Netanyahu is trying to cover up his defeat with arrogant and hollow rhetoric and by lighting Hanukkah candles at the Western Wall. It’s one thing that he can’t look reality in the eye and refuses to understand that an agreement with the Palestinians is a paramount Israeli interest. What’s worse is that the prime minister is dragging his country into the abyss.