Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went on the offensive Sunday against President Obama, slamming the outgoing administration and repeating charges by other government ministers that Obama’s refusal to veto a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli building in Judea and Samaria was a final shot at Israel in the final days of his term in office.
“I share the feelings of anger and frustration of members of the government regarding an unbalanced resolution that is hostile to the State of Israel, a resolution that was passed in an inappropriate fashion by the UN Security Council,” Netanyahu said. “From the information we have, we have no doubt whatsoever that the Obama administration was behind the resolution, supported it, went over the text and demanded that it be passed. This was, of course, in complete contrast to traditional American policy, which never to tried to force conditions on Israel for a permanent status agreement… and of course an explicit commitment that Obama himself made in 2011 to refrain from moves like this.
“The governments of Israel and the United States have disagreed about settlements for decades. At the same time, we have always agreed that the UN Security Council is not the place to resolve this issue. We have known that turning to the Council would make negotiations harder and would push off peace.
As I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council. I am heartened by the statements of support from our friends around the United States, Republicans and Democrats alike. They understand that a UN decision like this is irresponsible and destructive, and that the Western Wall is not occupied territory. I expect to work with these friends and with the new administration when it takes office next month,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli prime minister also recalled 10 ambassadors to members of the UNSC on Sunday, including the UK, and, in a highly unusual move, the US ambassador, Dan Shapiro.
In a striking rupture with past practice, the United States allowed the U.N. Security Council last Friday (December 23rd) to condemn Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation” of international law. In doing so, the outgoing Obama administration brushed aside Donald Trump’s demands that the U.S. exercise its veto and provided a climax to years of icy relations with Israel’s leadership.
The decision to abstain from the council’s 14-0 vote is one of the biggest American rebukes of its longstanding ally in recent memory. And it could have significant ramifications for the Jewish state, potentially hindering Israel’s negotiating position in future peace talks. Given the world’s widespread opposition to settlements, the action will be almost impossible for anyone, including Trump, to reverse, according to a PBS report.
The resolution said Israel’s settlements have “no legal validity.” It demanded a halt to such activities for the sake of “salvaging the two-state solution.” Loud applause erupted in the council chamber after U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power permitted the resolution to pass.
The condemnation, a day after Egypt suddenly postponed a scheduled showdown, capped days of frantic diplomacy in capitals around the world.
Speaking to a weekly meeting of his Cabinet, Netanyahu said Israel was also considering a "plan of action" against the UN, without elaborating.
"We will do all it takes so Israel emerges unscathed from this shameful decision," Netanyahu said.
Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador to the U.N., made it clear before the vote took place that he did not want it to pass.
“This resolution is a Palestinian initiative which is intended to harm Israel,” Danon, who has in the past supported groups raising money for settlements, said in a statement after the announcement was made that the vote was back on.
“We call on the United States to stand by us and we expect our greatest ally to continue with its long-standing policy and to veto this resolution," Danon said in the statement.
According to a report at the Washington Free Beacon, the Obama administration’s decision to reverse years of policy by abstaining from the UN security council vote instead of vetoing it quickly drew outrage across the pro-Israel community and in Congress, where multiple sources told the web site that the incoming Trump administration is likely to pursue consequences for the U.N.’s action.
The same report also indicated that Israeli officials excoriated the Obama administration, calling its behavior “shameful” and alleging that President Obama used the anti-Israel vote as a way to express his hostility for the Jewish state before vacating the Oval Office.
“The Obama administration has long flirted with international efforts to delegitimize Israel, so what happened isn’t really surprising,” said one senior congressional aide who spoke to the Free Beacon only on background when discussing potential action against the U.N.
“The good news is that a Republican government will enable us to roll back the Obama administration’s hostile anti-Israel policies,” the source said. “President-elect Trump has already signaled a level of support for Israel that we haven’t seen in eight years. Now we have a real opportunity to hold Iran accountable, fight BDS, and do everything possible to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.”
Widespread outrage over the Obama administration’s betrayal of Israel has reportedly ignited talk amongst the Trump transition team and other elected officials of ending US funding of the United Nations. Currently, the US is by far the largest contributor to the world diplomatic body and its funding accounts for 22% of its annual budget which translates into $8 billion of US taxpayer money every year.
On Sunday, CNN reported that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will propose a measure to pull US funding for the United Nations unless the UNSC repeals the resolution.
"It's that important to me," he told CNN. "This is a road we haven't gone down before. If you can't show the American people that international organizations can be more responsible, there is going to be a break. And I am going to lead that break."
"I will do everything in my power, working with the new administration and Congress, to leave no doubt about where America stands when it comes to the peace process and where we stand with the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel," Graham added.
The Security Council approved the resolution with 14 votes, with the US abstaining. Trump soon after tweeted, "things will be different after Jan. 20th," and on Friday, a senior Trump transition official told CNN the transition team was "all hands on deck" in working to kill the UN resolution.
Graham issued a statement after the vote, harshly criticizing the Obama administration for abstaining.
"The Obama-Kerry foreign policy has gone from naïve and foolish to flat-out reckless. With friends like these, Israel doesn't need any enemies," he said. "I anticipate this vote will create a backlash in Congress against the United Nations. The organization is increasingly viewed as anti-Semitic and seems to have lost all sense of proportionality."
Graham has not been the only Senator to stand at Israel’s side during this political slap in the face. In a tweet late Saturday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that he had just got off the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to not only bless him a “happy Chanukah,” but to assure Netanyahu that he has the “strong support” of the U.S. Congress.
The Texas senator also added the caveat that he is in favor of ending all U.S. funding of the United Nations until their anti-Israel resolution is reversed.
“Spoke w/ Israeli PM @netanyahu tonight to wish him Happy Chanukah & assure him of strong support in Congress. No US $ for UN until reversed,” Cruz tweeted.
In a statement following the vote on the UN resolution, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) concurred with his colleagues in the Senate that US funding of the United Nations must come to an end. He said, “The United States provides considerable financial assistance to the United Nations and Security Council members. The UN and nations supporting this resolution have now imperiled all forms of U.S. assistance. I look forward to working with President-elect Trump and members of both parties in Congress to decide what the consequences for this action will be.”
Reaction to the resolution has sent shock waves around the world and in particular both Jewish and non-Jewish pro-Israel organizations who often find themselves on the front lines in defense of Israel in the media.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, the executive vice president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America presidium issued a sternly worded statement in which he took issue with the current administration. "Since the inception of the United Nations, the United States of America has never succeeded in establishing the kind of legal fiction that this international document represents. It is nothing short of an historical fraud which attempts to deprive the undeniable Jewish claim to the holy land. Propaganda like this would cause such miscreants as Hitler and Stalin to cheer and anti-Semites the world over to rejoice."
He added, "All decent, peace loving people, whether they be Jewish or not, should boldly condemn this vile act of betrayal that occurred under the watch of the White House and the stewardship of John Kerry."
In an e-mail statement to the media, the Rabbinical Council of America denounced the controversial United Nations Security Council Resolution which defines as illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem and in particular the “tragic failure of the United States to veto the resolution.”
Rabbi Shalom Baum, president of the RCA, stated, "I appeal to all lovers and supporters of Israel to show their support for all of the residents of Israel, including those who live in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem, by buying products produced and sold there. We cannot allow this shameful resolution to strengthen the BDS movement.” He added, “I also urge the members of our community to visit Jerusalem as we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of our ancient and eternal capital this year. We express gratitude to those members of the Democrat and Republican parties who continue to stand with Israel as Israel has again been attacked in the United Nations. During this holiday of Chanukah we must rededicate ourselves to standing with the only democracy in the Middle East and against any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or safety."
The Agudath Israel of America organization that represents a large swath of the Orthodox Jews said in a statement : “That the UN has once again shown that it is a counterproductive force in regard to Middle East peace comes as no surprise. But, whatever the United States' position on "settlements," the Obama Administration's abstention from the Security Council's vote and its allowing the resolution to go through make it complicit in the objectives and the result of the vote — to weaken Israel, the US-Israel relationship and the prospects for peace and security in the region.”
The leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America also condemned the UN resolution and said in a statement following the polemical vote:
"The United Nations maintained its longstanding tradition of anti-Israel animus. The Security Council passed a resolution that cannot be properly characterized as anything other than biased against Israel. But what was an unprecedented and deeply disturbing break from the past was today's decision by the Obama Administration not to veto this resolution, but to merely abstain and to permit the resolution to pass 14-0. The Orthodox Union is gravely disappointed with this decision by President Obama. Over the course of his presidency, Mr. Obama repeatedly reassured American Jews, and others who care for the security and welfare of Israel, that his commitment to American support for Israel's security was "unshakable." By allowing this resolution to pass in the waning weeks of his Administration, President Obama has undermined his legacy in that regard.
The Orthodox Union appreciates the statements by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress calling upon the Administration to veto this latest calumny, and their commitment to respond forcefully to such United Nations action. The OU Advocacy Center will work to support these efforts."
By: Fern Sidman