WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will not allow any further United Nations measures critical of Israel to pass during the remainder of his term, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes promised on Wednesday.
When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if secretary of state John Kerry had indicated in his speech earlier Wednesday that the US would veto any other potential UN resolution that may come forward during the rest of Obama’s presidency, Rhodes said “yes.”
Since the anti-settlements resolution passed in the Security Council last Friday, Israel has expressed concern that another measure may come up before the international body for a vote, and that the US may once again refrain from using its veto power.
Following Kerry’s speech Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted in a bitter response that “the United States, if it’s true to its word, or at least if it’s now true to its word, should now come out and say we will not allow any resolutions, any more resolutions in the Security Council on Israel. Period. Not we will bring or not bring – we will not allow any (further resolutions), and stop this game, the charades.”
Rhodes dismissed that concern, saying “we’ve made that clear over and over” regarding the US commitment to not allow further action censuring Israel at the UN.
UN Resolution 2334 says the settlement enterprise “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law” and calls for a complete end to all construction in areas Israel captured after the 1967 Six Day War.
It also calls on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967” — language that Israel fears will lead to a surge in boycott and sanctions efforts, and that an Israeli official warned would provide “a tailwind for terror.”
The text was approved 14-0 with the United States abstaining.
Responding to allegations by Netanyahu that the US colluded with the Palestinians to see the resolution through, Rhodes said, “What I can tell you with certainty is that we did not draft this resolution, and we did not put this resolution forward.”
PMO spokesman David Keyes and Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer have each spoken to multiple US media organizations recently to say Israel has “ironclad information” that shows how the US was a driving force behind the measure.
Netanyahu declared Wednesday that Israel has “absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the United Nations Security Council.”
Keyes has said this evidence comes from Arab diplomatic sources, while Dermer vowed Israel will present its evidence to President-elect Donald Trump’s team and allow the incoming administration to decide whether to share the information with the American public.
Rhodes also addressed criticism that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was receiving too much attention from the administration while more severe crises around the world are unfolding.
“I think it’s a false argument to say that because there are so many other issues, we shouldn’t focus on this one,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is we are focused on this one because the current trends on the ground — particularly the current Israeli settlement activity — is making the two-state solution potentially impossible and creating the reality [that] what you’re eventually going to have is a one-state solution, where the West Bank is increasingly occupied by Israeli settlements,” Rhodes added.