Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening thanked African leaders for helping to thwart the Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN Security Council.
Netanyahu called the leaders of Rwanda and Nigeria, two countries that abstained during the vote after Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry convinced them to instruct their UN envoys not to support the Palestinian draft resolution.
Netanyahu maintains warm ties with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. At the beginning of December, Netanyahu sent Jonathan a personal letter expressing his “heartfelt condolences” over a terror attack at a mosque in the city of Kano in which at least 120 people were killed. Jonathan made a high-profile visit to Israel in late October, coming with an entourage of 20 Nigerian political and religious leaders. He was in Israel on a private Christian pilgrimage.
Until shortly before the vote, council diplomats had expected the resolution to get nine “yes” votes. But Nigeria, which was believed to support the resolution, abstained. Its ambassador, U. Joy Ogwu, echoed the US position, saying the ultimate path to peace lies “in a negotiated solution.”
During the vote on Tuesday, the US and Australia voted against the resolution; Russia, China, France, Luxembourg, Jordan, Argentina, Chile and Chad voted for the resolution; and Britain, Nigeria, South Korea, Rwanda and Lithuania abstained.
In a statement released Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said, “The failure of the Palestinian resolution must teach the Palestinians that provocation and attempts to impose unilateral measures on Israel will not achieve anything — on the contrary.”
According to Liberman, “The Palestinians’ contempt for the most important states in the international community, first and foremost the United States, stems in part from the support they enjoy from some of the European states. Every state that truly wishes to promote a solution to the conflict must behave responsibly and make it clear to the Palestinians that decisions are made only around the negotiating table.”
Liberman’s comment on European states may be construed as referring to France, which, to the chagrin of Israeli diplomats, voted in favor of the resolution.
President Francois Hollande has been trying to become more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hollande announced at the end of November that France should play a wider role in the conflict and proposed to host a conference with the Israelis and Palestinians.
Israel Nitzan, the Middle East adviser at Israel’s UN mission, delivered a brief message to the Palestinians after the vote: “You cannot agitate … your way to a state.”