PM applauds US for ‘pushing back’ against UN moves on Israel
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PM applauds US for ‘pushing back’ against UN moves on Israel

Ahead of visit by VP Pence, Netanyahu hails Washington for its 'leadership and determination in the defense of the truth of Israel'

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, at Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem on June 7, 2017. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, at Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem on June 7, 2017. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised US President Donald Trump and his administration for “pushing back” against United Nations efforts to criticize Israel.

He was apparently referring to an impending Egypt-sponsored UN Security Council resolution to undermine the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which Washington was expected to veto.

At the weekly cabinet meeting, the prime minister hailed the US for its “leadership and determination in the defense of the truth of Israel,” the “decisiveness with which they are pushing back on the efforts to use the United Nations as a stage against Israel,” and for its public support.

His statement followed a report by the Reuters news agency on Saturday that the UN Security Council was considering a draft resolution that would nullify Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month.

The text, drafted by Egypt, “affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council,” Reuters reported.

It also calls upon all states not to establish diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, demanding that “all states comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem” and not recognize “any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.”

The UN Security Council meets on December 8, 2017. (United Nations)

In his address from the White House on December 6, Trump said that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue. He described his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

Trump, whose declaration was hailed by Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum but rejected by the Palestinians and most of the international community, stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

In a move that further angered the Palestinians, a White House official said Friday that the US could not “envision any situation” under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel.

The Western Wall, part of the retaining walls of the Second Temple compound, is the closest point of prayer for Jews to the site of the Temple itself, and thus the Jewish people’s holiest place of prayer. It was captured, along with the rest of the Old City and East Jerusalem, from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, and annexed by Israel as part of its united capital — a move not recognized internationally.

Worshipers at the annual priestly blessing at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem during the Sukkot holiday, October 8, 2017. (Israel Police)

Muslims claim it as the site where the Prophet Muhammad tied his horse, al-Buraq, on his night journey to Jerusalem before he rose to paradise. They call the Temple Mount Haram al-Sharif, site of the third-holiest mosque in Islam.

In his address to the cabinet, Netanyahu also heaped praise on US Vice President Mike Pence, who is due to visit Israel later this week. Pence, he said, is a “great friend of Israel and of Jerusalem.”

In December 2016, toward the end of the Obama administration, the Security Council voted through a resolution that “underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.” Bitterly opposed by Israel, the vote passed 14-0 with the US abstaining. Trump’s transition team reportedly tried to block the resolution.

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