U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday rejected criticism by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials that his administration orchestrated the anti-settlements UN Security Council resolution last month and "betrayed Israel."
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In an excerpt from an interview with the Israeli Channel 2 program "Uvda," to be aired in full Thursday, Obama said that allegations against his administration "may work well with deflecting attention from the problem of settlements, they may play well with Bibi's political base, as well as the Republican base here in the United States, but they don't match up with the facts." He referred to Netanyahu by his nickname.
Asked by reporter Ilana Dayan whether it was fitting for an outgoing president to support such initiatives, Obama said: "I have an obligation to do what I think it right."
Responding to critics who believe U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's policy will be better for Israel and Netanyahu, Obama hinted that this assumption could prove wrong.
"I think the interesting question is whether Netanyahu will sleep better after January 20," when Trump takes office, he said.
A serious crisis arose last month between the Israeli government and the Obama administration following the UN resolution against the settlements, which the U.S. refused to veto.
The resolution's two main clauses state that the settlements have "no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law," and call on the nations of the world "to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967."
The vote was able to pass the 15-member council because 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 times before.
After the vote, Netanyahu accused Obama of an underhanded and anti-Israel maneuver at the Security Council, and Israel's ambassador to the U.S. told CNN that Israel would present the Trump administration with evidence to that claim.