Ne­tanyahu hits out at Obama over UN vote

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Jerusalem

Is­rael’s prime min­is­ter lashed out at Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Satur­day, ac­cus­ing him of a “shame­ful am­bush” at the United Na­tions over West Bank set­tle­ments and say­ing he is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with his “friend” pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump.

Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s com­ments came a day af­ter the United States broke with past prac­tice and al­lowed the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to con­demn Is­raeli set­tle­ments in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a “fla­grant vi­o­la­tion” of in­ter­na­tional law.

Al­though the US op­poses the set­tle­ments, it has tra­di­tion­ally used its veto power as a per­ma­nent mem­ber of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to block res­o­lu­tions con­demn­ing Is­rael, say­ing that dis­putes be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans must be re­solved through ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Wel­comed by the Pales­tini­ans, the res­o­lu­tion, while mostly sym­bolic, could hin­der Is­rael’s ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion in fu­ture peace talks.

Trump also con­demned the UN vote on Satur­day, tak­ing to Twit­ter to say it “will make it much harder to ne­go­ti­ate peace.” But, he added, “we will get it done any­way.”

A year ago, Trump said he wanted to be “very neu­tral” on Is­rael-Pales­tinian is­sues, but his com­ments be­came much more pro-Is­rael as the race pro­gressed and he took a sharp tone against the Pales­tini­ans.

Ne­tanyahu said the US ab­sten­tion was “in com­plete con­trast” to US com­mit­ments — in­clud­ing one that he said Obama made in 2011 — not to im­pose con­di­tions for a fi­nal agree­ment on Is­rael at the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. “The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­ducted a shame­ful anti-Is­rael am­bush at the UN,” Ne­tanyahu said.

The US and much of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity con­sider Is­rael’s set­tle­ments in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as an ob­sta­cle to peace. Ne­tanyahu re­jects such claims, blam­ing the fail­ure of peace ef­forts on the Pales­tinian re­fusal to rec­og­nize Is­rael’s Jewish iden­tity.

The de­ci­sion to ab­stain from the vote was one of the big­gest US re­bukes of its long-stand­ing ally and marked a fi­nal chapter in the icy re­la­tions be­tween Ne­tanyahu and Obama.

Ne­tanyahu said he had spo­ken with US lead­ers, both Democrats and Repub­li­cans, who vowed to fight the move, in­clud­ing, he said, from Is­rael’s “friend” in the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“We are en­ter­ing a new era and as the pres­i­dent-elect Trump said, this is go­ing to hap­pen much quicker than peo­ple think. In this new era there is a high price for those try­ing to harm Is­rael,” Ne­tanyahu said.

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