Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday accused President Barack Obama of breaching a specific commitment to Israel by allowing through Friday’s UN Security Council anti-settlements resolution, and compared the outgoing president’s behavior to that of predecessor Jimmy Carter, “a president who was hostile to Israel.”
Vowing not to be forced by international pressure into withdrawing from disputed territory, he said the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump had indicated that it would join an all-out war against what he called a “shameful” and “scandalous” decision.
He described the 14-0 vote in the Security Council, with the US abstaining, as “the swan song of the old world that is anti-Israel.” Now, he said, “we are entering a new era. And as President-elect Trump said, it’s going to happen a lot faster than people think.”
In this new era, it will a lot more costly for those who seek to harm Israel, he warned.
Practically speaking, Netanyahu also announced that Israel was re-evaluating all of its dealings with the United Nations, and that he had already instructed officials to cut off “30 million shekels ($7.8 million) of funding for five UN bodies that are particularly hostile to Israel.” More such action will follow, he promised.
He noted that he had recalled Israel’s ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal, two of the four countries that sponsored the resolution that have diplomatic relations with Israel. Israeli aid to Senegal has also been halted, he said.
Netanyahu compared the resolution to the UN’s equation of Zionism with racism, and said that just as that decision was eventually overturned, so too would this one be. “It took time,” he said, “but it was cancelled.”
Speaking at a Hanukkah event for wounded soldiers and victims of terrorism (Hebrew clip below), Netanyahu said the UNSC decision was “biased and shameful, but we’ll get over it.” Israel, he stressed, “rejects it utterly.”
He said it was surreal in that it determined that the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall were occupied territory. “There is nothing more ridiculous than to call the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter occupied territory,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, the resolution represented an effort to impose the terms of a permanent Israeli-Palestinian accord. “It won’t work,” he said. The last person to attempt to do this, he said, was Carter — “a president deeply hostile to Israel,” and who recently said that Hamas is not a terrorist organization.” Carter’s efforts at the UN didn’t work either, he said
Carter, he noted, allowed through a similar UNSC decision, in 1980. All subsequent presidents stood by the commitment not to try to impose conditions at the UNSC, Netanyahu said — until Friday.
The US abstention came in “a complete contradiction” to a “specific commitment by President Obama in 2011,” he said. It was “a shameful anti-Israel ambush” by the administration, he said.
“The whole Middle East is going up in flames,” he said, “and the Obama administration and the Security Council” target Israel, the region’s only democracy. “How shameful.”
He said Israel “is not alone” in opposing the decision and the skewed stance against Israel. “Our friends” in the incoming administration, and numerous Republic and Democratic legislators, he said, have told him they will fight the decision with all their power. “We’ll change this decision,” he said they promised him. “We won’t let anybody hurt the State of Israel.”
US legislators intend to pass a law to punish states or organizations, including the UN, that seek to hurt Israel. The US alone, he noted, provides a quarter of the UN’s funding.
He said Israel was “on a journey” to improve its relations with the nations of the world. “It could be that this scandalous decision yesterday will accelerate this process. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Yesterday’s decision is a recruitment call to all our many friends in the US and around the world — friends who have had enough of the UN’s hostile treatment of Israel and who intend to push fundamental change at the UN.”
Therefore, he said, invoking the spirit of the Hanukkah festival which began on Saturday, “the light will oust the darkness.”