Opposition MKs demand PM explain diplomatic moves to powerful Knesset panel
search

Opposition MKs demand PM explain diplomatic moves to powerful Knesset panel

Yesh Atid party wants Netanyahu questioned on his series of punitive measures against countries that supported anti-settlement resolution in Security Council

Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on December 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on December 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Yesh Atid party on Monday urged an influential Knesset committee to summon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to explain the “dangerous deterioration in Israel’s foreign relations” in the wake of the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlements.

The opposition party sent a letter to MK Avi Dichter, the head of the powerful Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, calling on him to summon Netanyahu to explain the situation.

“In the last few days since the UN Security Council decision on the settlements, we have seen a dangerous deterioration in Israel’s foreign relations, particularly with the major world powers and some of our best friends,” the letter said.

“We believe that it is imperative for the committee to meet as soon as possible and summon the prime minister, who as you know is also the foreign minister, and hear how he plans to deal with this crisis,” said the letter.

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approves the military budget and tackles highly sensitive security and military issues.

In the wake of the resolution, Netanyahu lashed out angrily at the 15 nations that are members of the Security Council and summoned envoys Sunday for an official dressing down in Jerusalem. He also announced a slew of punitive measures against them, including canceling meetings with top officials and freezing diplomatic contacts.

Netanyahu has played up his efforts to expand Israel’s diplomatic ties around the world, recently making rare visits to Africa and Central Asia in what he said is a sign of the country’s shrinking isolation in the world.

But Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, who has styled himself a sort of shadow foreign minister, has often complained that Netanyahu’s attempt to juggle the roles of prime minister and foreign minister have left Israel at a diplomatic disadvantage.

In a statement, Lapid said instead of sanctioning world powers, Israel should be working to prevent diplomatic moves that could do harm to the country’s economic and security standing.

“What we should be doing now is strengthening our foreign relations, not undermining them,” he said in a statement.

Netanyahu, who said that the Security Council nations were “spitting” on Israel, has ordered a series of steps in recent days designed to highlight Jerusalem’s displeasure with Resolution 2334.

Netanyahu reportedly told his cabinet ministers to reduce to a minimum their engagement with all the countries that voted for the resolution and with which Israel has ties — China, Russia, France, the UK, Spain, Egypt, Angola, Ukraine, Uruguay, Japan, New Zealand and Senegal. They were told to minimize any visits to those countries, and that he would not receive visits from their foreign ministers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, during a session at the Knesset, October 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, during a session at the Knesset, October 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

 

On Saturday, Netanyahu canceled the upcoming visit to Israel of the Ukrainian prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman. He also ordered a series of punitive measures against New Zealand and Senegal, two of the four countries that co-sponsored the resolution. Israel has no ties with the other two sponsors, Malaysia and Venezuela.

He also ordered a report from the Foreign Ministry to be given to the cabinet within 30 days reassessing Israel’s entire relationship with the United Nations.

In a rare move Sunday, Netanyahu held a 40-minute meeting with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, having summoned the envoy to explain why the US abstained in the vote on Resolution 2334, enabling it to pass 14-0, rather than vetoing it.

Netanyahu and officials close to him have accused US President Barack Obama of playing an active role in both formulating and pushing for the resolution. The US denies cooking up the measure.

Netanyahu is now reaching out to the incoming Trump administration, which takes office on January 20, and to friends in Congress, in the hope of “deterring” what he sees as further potential Obama administration-led diplomatic action against Israel, a report by Channel 2 said. His aim is for the Trump team to make plain that his administration will “economically hurt” those countries that voted against Israel in the UN and that do so in the future.

read more:
comments