A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday denied that he intends to cancel a meeting next month with British Prime Minister Theresa May as part of his punitive response to the United Nations Security Council’s anti-settlements resolution. No such meeting was ever scheduled, the spokesman said.
Israel’s Channel 10 and other Hebrew media reported that Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with May at the World Economic Forum in Davos between January 17 and 20, but would not go ahead with that meeting because Britain, along with 13 other members of the Security Council, voted in favor of Resolution 2334, which demands a halt to all Israeli settlement activity and which the prime minister has called “shameful.” The United States abstained in the vote, enabling the resolution to pass.
Netanyahu’s spokesman denied the reports, however. “No meeting with the UK prime minister had been set, therefore no meeting was canceled,” the spokesperson said. Netanyahu had merely told his ministers to “travel less” to countries that voted against Israel in the near future, the spokesperson said.
Two weeks ago, in an address to the Conservative Friends of Israel, May showered praise on Israel, calling it “a remarkable country” and “a beacon of tolerance.” She said UK ties with Israel were “crucial,” promised to raise the bilateral trade relationship to new heights, and described the Balfour Declaration as “one of the most important letters in history.”
In a Hanukkah message last week, May vowed to stand by the Jewish community and to fight against prejudice in all its forms.
Netanyahu on Sunday summoned US Ambassador Dan Shapiro for a meeting for “clarifications” after the US failed to use its veto in Friday’s vote.
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. He now fears that the US will seek another vote at the UN to enshrine some of Secretary of State John 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.