Netanyahu: Obama Administration Carried Out Underhanded, anti-Israel Maneuver at UN

Anti-settlement Security Council resolution is 'crazy,' prime minister says, vowing to pull Israeli funding from UN institutions. Minister Bennett calls to annex parts of West Bank.

Barak Ravid
Jonathan Lis
Chaim Levinson
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Netanyahu making his first public comments after the UN Security Council vote.
Barak Ravid
Jonathan Lis
Chaim Levinson

The Israeli government is continuing its personal attacks on U.S. President Barack Obama for not exercising an American veto on the UN Security Council resolution passed Friday, condemning Israel's settlement policy.

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

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The United States abstained in the UN Security Council vote, paving its way for adoption with the support of the other 14 members. The official noted that the American abstention was foreseen and that Prime Minister Benjamin 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.

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 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."

“Half a million Syria are being slaughtered in Syria, tens of thousands are butchered in Sudan. The Middle East is up in flames, yet the Obama administration and the UN Security Council choose to set upon the only democracy in the Middle East,” Netanyahu told his television audience. “Ironically,” he said, “the resolution could result in a groundswell of support from supporters of Israel.”

UN vote 'revealed the true face of the Obama administration'

Earlier on Saturday, a senior official said the American conduct at the United Nations "revealed the true face of the Obama administration," adding that "now we can understand what we have been dealing with for the past eight years."

Obama meets with Netanyahu in the Oval office of the White House, Washington, November 9, 2015.
Obama meets with Netanyahu in the Oval office of the White House, Washington, November 9, 2015. Credit: © Kevin Lamarque / Reuters/RE

Israel is convinced at that the United States acted behind the country's back when it comes to drafting and advancing the resolution, the Israeli official said. "We know about it from Arab and international sources," he added.

On Friday, the Prime Minister's Bureau accused President Barack Obama of "colluding" against Israel at the UN. "The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes," the bureau said following the vote. "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."

Bennett calls for annexation of Area C

For his part, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the hard-right Habayit Hayehudi party, said Saturday that the time has come for a "U-turn" in Israeli policy, "from withdrawal to sovereignty."

Bennett called for a halt to what he deemed "a march on the path to the suicide of a Palestinian state," calling for the annexation of portions of the West Bank. Israeli law, he said, should be "applied to Ma'aleh Adumim, the Jordan Valley, Ofra and all of Area C as soon as possible."

Area C is the portion of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control. It includes all of the Jewish settlements.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi party, said in a Facebook post: "Half a million men, women and children are being slaughtered in Syria and this neutered entity [the UN] isn't managing to extend them a hand, but [when it comes to] harming the state of the Jews, why not?"

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin roundly condemned the Security Council resolution  and said: "We expected that the United States, our greatest ally and friend, which has stood unwavering on the side of Israel's security needs through the years, would stand by us at this time and not abandon us." Rivlin added that he would light Hanukkah candles on Monday night in the West  Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El "together with the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria,” referring to the West Bank by its biblical name.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, said the U.S. abstention was another case of America's turning its back "not only on Israel but on the values of the United States itself." Levin called for Israel to respond through settlement construction and annexation of territory "in full coordination with our friends in the new [Trump] administration."

Opposition: Netanyahu lost control

Chairman of the opposition, MK Isaac Herzog, said "Netanyahu has lost control. The man who only last month told us that world worships us, has no declared war on the world, on the U.S., on Europe this dangerous insanity might end up have a direct influence on all of us next time we go abroad and experience hostility."

Yair Lapid, the leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party, was critical of the Israeli government's handling of foreign policy, saying the country has long lacked an action plan. He also cautioned against a foreign and defense policy based on the expectation Trump's administration will be more favorably disposed to the Netanyahu government. "No one knows what he is going to do," Lapid said.

In addition to being prime minister, Netanyahu is foreign minister. Lapid called for the appointment of a full-time foreign minister, adding that he is not interested in the job himself.

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