Netanyahu: ‘Very important’ to thwart another UN resolution

PM warns of ‘more than a few’ indications that conclusions reached at upcoming Paris confab could be ratified at Turtle Bay

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a conference of Israeli ambassadors to Europe at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, January 3, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a conference of Israeli ambassadors to Europe at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, January 3, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israel’s key diplomatic task in the coming two weeks is to prevent an additional Palestine-related resolution at the United Nations Security Council, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

Addressing a conference of Israeli ambassadors and chiefs of mission in Europe at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that it was likely that any conclusions reached at an international peace conference set for January 15, and sponsored by France, could be turned into another resolution.

“The Paris Conference is irrelevant,” he said. “But there are signs that they are trying to turn decisions made there into another Security Council resolution, and that is no longer irrelevant.”

There are more than a few indications for that, Netanyahu added, without elaborating.

“Therefore, our primary effort that we are currently dealing with is the prevention of an additional UN Security Council resolution,” he said.

Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, went on to say that Jerusalem must also work to prevent another decision or resolution by the Middle East Quartet, which comprises the UN, the United States, the European Union and Russia.

In July 2016, the Quartet published a report that criticized Israeli settlement expansion and Palestinian incitement to violence. Representatives of the group have not announced plans to issue any additional documents.

Israel is making a “great diplomatic effort” to prevent further Security Council or Quartet resolutions, Netanyahu said, instructing the Israeli ambassadors to make that the main focus of their work in the days ahead.

“It won’t take much time, but it will occupy us in the next two weeks, and it needs to succeed,” he said. “This is of utmost importance, immediately.”

After concluding his short public remarks, he continued to brief the Israeli diplomats behind closed doors.

On December 23, the Security Council passed resolution 2334, which declared Israeli settlement outside the pre-1967 lines as having “no legal validity” and constituting “a flagrant violation under international law. Fourteen of 15 member states voted in favor of the text. The US abstained, allowing the resolution to pass.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has since delivered a lengthy speech in which he, again, criticized the settlements and laid out his vision of what a future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could look like. However, he said that a final status agreement “can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties” and that the outgoing administration has no intention of imposing a solution on the sides.

“There are other countries in the UN who believe it is our job to dictate the terms of a solution in the Security Council. Others want us to simply recognize a Palestinian state, absent an agreement,” he said. “But I want to make clear today: These are not the choices that we will make.”

Netanyahu, in his angry response to Kerry’s December 28 speech, said he took no comfort in the pledge not to seek further UN action against Israel. The six “principles” the secretary laid out — including negotiations on the 1967-lines and a Jerusalem as the capital of two states — could be adopted by the upcoming international peace conference in Paris, and then France or Sweden might propose a resolution based on it at the Security Council, he said.

As last week’s abstention on Resolution 2334 showed, the current administration cannot be trusted to protect Israel at the UN, Netanyahu added. “And the United States could say, well, we can’t vote against our own policy, we’ve just enunciated it.”

Other US officials, including senior members of the White House’s national security team, have since vowed to veto any additional Security Council resolution on Israel, including one based on Kerry’s recommendations.

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