Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday summoned US Ambassador Dan Shapiro and met with him for “clarifications,” after the US abstained in Friday’s United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement activity, enabling its passage.
Netanyahu, who has publicly accused US President Barack Obama of “ambushing” Israel at the UN with the “shameful” resolution, reportedly told colleagues earlier Sunday that the diplomatic tussle was not yet over. “The issue is still hot, and we haven’t heard the end of this yet,” Haaretz reported him telling Likud ministers at a closed-door meeting.
Secretary of State Kerry said after the vote on Friday that he would shortly deliver a speech laying out his vision for a Middle East peace agreement and how future administrations may be able to take the issue forward, featuring “more detailed thoughts, drawn from the experience of the last several years, on the way ahead.” Netanyahu now fears that the US will seek another vote at the UN to enshrine some of Kerry’s suggested parameters for an accord, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported on Sunday evening. There was no confirmation of this report.
Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry to summon the ambassadors of the states that supported the anti-settlement resolution for a dressing-down. Ten envoys were called in on Christmas morning for scoldings from directors of the Foreign Ministry’s respective regional departments, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said.
In the case of Great Britain and Spain, the deputy ambassadors were summoned because their respective bosses are currently not in the country. The ambassadors of China, Russia, France, Angola, Egypt, Japan, Ukraine and Uruguay were expected to arrive in Jerusalem later on Sunday — Christmas Day. Senegal and New Zealand do not have embassies in Israel. Venezuela and Malaysia do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
Netanyahu also reiterated his vow to curtail funding to various UN agencies and to take “additional” measures to punish states that supported the resolution. He said he had 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.
On Saturday, Netanyahu, who also serves as foreign minister, canceled the upcoming visit to Israel of the Ukrainian prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, as a punitive measure against the country’s vote. He also ordered a series of punitive measures against New Zealand and Senegal, two of the four countries that co-sponsored the resolution. Netanyahu recalled Israel’s ambassadors in New Zealand and Senegal to Jerusalem for consultations. He canceled the upcoming visit to Israel of the Senegalese foreign minister and instructed the Foreign Ministry to cancel all aid programs to the African country. He also ordered the cancellation of visits in Israel of the nonresident ambassadors of Senegal and New Zealand.
Netanyahu also told his Likud lawmakers on Sunday not to speak openly about annexing parts of the West Bank or building more settlements so long as Obama is still in office.
“Don’t come out now with statements about annexing territory and building in the settlements, because there may be another international move (against Israel) before the change in the US administration on January 20,” Netanyahu said, according to the Ynet news website.
The comments came after several ministers, including some from Likud, called openly for Israel to push forward with annexing parts of the West Bank in response to the Security Council decision.
Speaking after the meeting with Netanyahu, Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi said Israel should refrain from taking unilateral steps, like annexation. “It would be a great mistake to take unilateral steps, because this is exactly what we are opposed to,” he told Army Radio.
Netanyahu has fumed at the White House since the vote passed with Washington withholding its veto, accusing Obama of proposing and pushing the measure.
Israel has repeatedly argued that any agreement with the Palestinians can only be reached in the framework of direct negotiations between the two sides.
Addressing the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, Netanyahu reiterated his staunch opposition to Friday’s passage of Resolution 2334, which condemns Israeli settlements and all forms of terrorism and incitement.
“We have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated its versions and insisted upon its passage,” he said.