Lapid: US veto at Security Council no longer assured

Finance minister says Israel-US ties at ‘unprecedented low’ ahead of expected Palestinian UN resolution demanding Israeli pullout to ’67 lines

Finance Minister Yair Lapid on September 7, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid on September 7, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Saturday that ties between Israel and the US have reached such a nadir that the US’s assistance at the UN Security Council — including using its right to veto anti-Israel resolutions — was no longer assured.

“We are at an unprecedented low point in our ties with the US. No one knows what they will do when Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] goes to the Security Council. Their veto is not assured like before,” Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, said at a gathering in Tel Aviv.

The Palestinians have yet to formally submit to the UN Security Council a UN draft resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by 2016, but are expected to do so in the coming weeks.

Despite Palestinian statements that the text would come up for a vote in November, Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour told AFP this week that no date had been set for the draft to be discussed at the 15-member council.

(The Times of Israel reported earlier this month that many in Jerusalem fear the US can no longer be relied upon to use its veto in the Security Council. In a second article, ToI’s Raphael Ahren wrote that in the Security Council’s present constellation, it will be difficult — though certainly not impossible — for Abbas to get the nine yes votes required to pass a resolution or force the US to veto it. “However, if Abbas decided to hold off until next year, when five of the non-permanent Security Council members will be replaced, the chances of the Palestinian demarche will increase significantly,” he noted.)

On Monday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged Israel and the Palestinians to “step back from the brink” and return to peace talks amid European moves toward recognizing Palestine.

His comments reflected international alarm over the spate of terrorist attacks in Israel by Palestinians and East Jerusalem residents, the tensions over the Temple Mount, and the deadlock over peace talks which ended in late April.

With no political solution in sight, governments and parliaments in Europe are moving toward Palestinian recognition, with France’s National Assembly set to vote on a non-binding resolution on December 2 after debating the issue on Friday.

That follows Sweden’s announcement that it will recognize Palestine, and non-binding votes in the British and Spanish parliament in favor of Palestinian recognition.

The Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Obama administration have often gone head to head, sometimes publicly, over a variety of issues, including disagreements over the ongoing talks with Iran on its nuclear program, continued Israeli settlement activity and perceived Israeli intransigence on peace talks.

Some of the differences have deteriorated into exchanges of name-calling between officials, reports of snubbing and other uncommon behavior between allies.

This includes Israeli government accusations over the summer that US Secretary of State John Kerry was engaging in a ”terrorist” attack on Israel by backing a cease-fire agreement with Hamas that had been shaped by its Qatari backers; Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon calling Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic” on the peace process; and an anonymous Obama administration official telling US journalist Jeffrey Goldberg that Netanyahu’s behavior on the peace process and on Iran was “chickenshit.”

Kerry later called Netanyahu to apologize on behalf of the US government for the remark.

JTA contributed to this report.

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