Israeli officials: US abstention was Obama’s ‘last sting,’ showed his ‘true face’
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'Now it's easier to understand what we dealt with the past eight years'

Israeli officials: US abstention was Obama’s ‘last sting,’ showed his ‘true face’

Netanyahu thanks Trump, Democrats and Republicans for support after Administration fails to use veto, enabling passage of UNSC settlements resolution; Herzog tells PM to step down

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listening as President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting in Washington in March 2012. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listening as President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting in Washington in March 2012. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The United States’s failure to veto a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements was the “last sting of President Obama” that exposed his “true face,” unnamed Israeli officials said Saturday evening. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, thanked President-elect Donald Trump for his promise for support at the international body after he takes office.

The US’s abstention in Friday’s vote “is the last sting of President Obama. It exposes the true face of the [Obama] administration,” the officials said Saturday evening. “Now it’s easier to understand what we dealt with the past eight years.”

The move, which allowed the resolution to pass 14-0, “was expected,” the official said, and charged that “the United States acted behind the back in composing and advancing the resolution against Israel. We knew about it through Arab and international sources.”

“President-elect [Donald] Trump, members of Congress and Jewish organizations were enlisted to prevent this move by the Obama administration. As some of the representatives in the US express, they’re considering legislation against the states who advanced the motion,” the sources said.

Samantha Power, center, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, votes to abstain during a U.N. Security Council vote on condemning Israel's settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 at United Nations Headquarters. (Manuel Elias/The United Nations via AP)
Samantha Power, center, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, votes to abstain during a UN Security Council vote on condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 at United Nations Headquarters. (Manuel Elias/The United Nations via AP)

Netanyahu, in a second barb at Obama since the Security Council resolution passed Friday night, expressed thanks “to all of our friends in the United States, Republicans and Democrats alike” for their support, while sharing Trump’s vow for things to change at the United Nations after he takes office next month.

President Reuven Rivlin called the resolution “disgraceful, serious, and unfortunate” that “brings us no nearer to negotiations with the Palestinians, but rather makes such a prospect even more distant.”

“We expected that the United States – our greatest ally and friend which has stood unwavering on the side of Israel’s security needs throughout the years – would stand by us at this time and not abandon us, leaving us in the hands of a cynical body driven by alien interests,” the head of state said in a statement.

Right-wing Israeli lawmakers fumed at the Security Council resolution, following Netanyahu’s lead by directing their wrath at Obama. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the administration “can’t atone for its failure in Aleppo with the nasty resolution against the settlements.” Likud MK Oren Hazan wrote on Twitter that “deluded dream of a two-state solution brought out the Hussein in Obama, who refuses to accept the election results.” “Only massive construction will explain to the anti-Semites in the UN that we’re here to stay!” the lawmaker wrote.

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan of the Jewish Home party said Israel likened the resolution to the Hanukkah story, saying Israel will overcome the UN “just as the Hasmoneans defeated the Greek empire.”

“The Palestinian Authority that stood behind this shameful resolution needs to be punished,” Dahan said, saying it violated the Oslo Accords.

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog leads a faction meeting in the Knesset, November 07, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, placed the onus of the diplomatic defeat at the UN on Netanyahu. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Friday called on Netanyahu to step down if he has “a drop of responsibility left.” Zionist Union number two and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni said that it was Netanyahu’s personal failure and that he “knew and said clearly that the [settlement] regulation bill will bring about a Security Council resolution — and nonetheless conceded to the radical right.”

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid railed against the UN resolution, telling reporters it was “dangerous, unfair and Israel doesn’t accept it.” “The resolution yesterday was an act of hypocrisy,” he said. “When a murderous terrorist group like Hamas praises the decision of the Security Council, it’s clear whom it serves.” He criticized left-wing politicians who celebrated the UN decision, saying “patriots don’t behave thus,” but simultaneously flayed Netanyahu’s foreign policy and failure to enlist international support.

“In the past two years Prime Minister Netanyahu explained to us time and again that the Obama administration is hostile toward him, but the whole world is becoming convinced by the just way of [Netanyahu’s] government,” he said. “What happened yesterday is a complete collapse of that theory. The drama yesterday wasn’t just with the United States. What became clear yesterday is that no country in the world… agrees with the government of Israel. We had zero supporters in the vote.”

By contrast, the left-wing Meretz leader Zahava Galon praised the decision for saying, “Yes to Israel, no to settlements.”

Netanyahu on Friday lashed out at Obama, accusing him of actively working against Israel at the UN — seemingly abandoning all pretense of diplomatic cautiousness after a US abstention at the Security Council led to the passage of a resolution against settlements.

“Israel categorically rejects the despicable anti-Israeli resolution at the UN, and will not adhere to it,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a seething statement Friday after the council voted in favor of the motion 14-0.

“While the Security Council does nothing to prevent the massacre of half a million people in Syria, it is shamefully singling out Israel — the only democracy in the Middle East,” the PMO said.

“The Obama administration not only failed to defend Israel from this harassment at the UN, it cooperated with it behind the scenes.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US President Barack Obama in New York, on September 21, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US President Barack Obama in New York, on September 21, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

In a barely veiled final repudiation of the administration with which Netanyahu has clashed so often, his office said Friday that Israel was “looking forward to working with President-elect [Donald] Trump and with our friends in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to undo the damage of this absurd resolution.”

Other Israeli officials reacted with disappointment and anger to Washington’s failure to veto the resolution.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Donald Trump meeting at Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Donald Trump meeting at Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said that the council had “voted no to negotiations, you have voted no to progress and a chance for better lives for Israelis and Palestinians, and you have voted no to the possibility of peace.”

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Channel 2 News that the US abstention was “not how friends behave” while cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi said the US vote also “spits in the face” of incoming president Donald Trump.

Shortly before the vote, an Israeli official used unprecedentedly harsh language to accuse the Obama administration of scheming with the Palestinians to harm Israel with the resolution.

“The US administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tailwind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory,” the official said. (The draft resolution refers to East Jerusalem as “occupied Palestinian territory.)

Palestinian and Egyptian officials met earlier in the month with State Department officials in Washington, Channel 2 noted Friday evening, and it was in those talks, Israel believes, that plans were coordinated to push through the anti-settlements resolution. Hence the official’s reference to the US administration having “cooked up” the resolution.

“This is an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration of advancing peace,” the official added.

The US denied the allegations. “Contrary to some claims, the administration was not involved in formulating the resolution nor have we promoted it,” the unnamed official told Reuters.

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