Fu­ri­ous Ne­tanyahu sum­mons US en­voy 10 oth­ers rep­ri­manded

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu yes­ter­day sum­moned the US am­bas­sador to Is­rael to dis­cuss the US ab­sten­tion in a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion de­mand­ing an end to set­tle­ment-build­ing. Sep­a­rately, the en­voys of 10 other na­tions were called in to the Is­raeli For­eign Min­istry to be rep­ri­manded yes­ter­day, and Ne­tanyahu had more harsh words for Wash­ing­ton over Fri­day’s UN vote. An Is­raeli spokesman gave no de­tails of when Ne­tanyahu would meet US Am­bas­sador Daniel Shapiro.

The res­o­lu­tion was passed in the 15mem­ber Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be­cause the US broke with its long-stand­ing ap­proach of diplo­mat­i­cally shield­ing Is­rael and did not wield its veto power, in­stead ab­stain­ing. Ne­tanyahu put his per­sonal im­print on Is­rael’s show of anger by re­peat­ing at the weekly cabi­net meet­ing what an uniden­ti­fied Is­raeli govern­ment of­fi­cial con­tended on Fri­day - that the ad­min­is­tra­tion of US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama had con­spired with the Pales­tini­ans to push for the res­o­lu­tion’s adop­tion. The White House has de­nied the al­le­ga­tion.

“Ac­cord­ing to our in­for­ma­tion, we have no doubt the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ini­ti­ated it (the res­o­lu­tion), stood be­hind it, co­or­di­nated the word­ing and de­manded it be passed,” Ne­tanyahu told the cabi­net in public re­marks. An­other of­fi­cial said Ne­tanyahu had or­dered that for the com­ing three weeks, un­til Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump takes of­fice, cabi­net min­is­ters re­frain from trav­el­ling to or meet­ing of­fi­cials of coun­tries that voted in fa­vor of the res­o­lu­tion.

The en­voys from 10 of the 14 coun­tries that voted for the res­o­lu­tion and have em­bassies in Is­rael - Bri­tain, China, Rus­sia, France, Egypt, Ja­pan, Uruguay, Spain, Ukraine and New Zealand - were sum­moned to the For­eign Min­istry. Sun­day is a reg­u­lar work day in Is­rael, but most em­bassies are closed, and call­ing in en­voys on Christ­mas Day is highly un­usual. At the weekly cabi­net meet­ing yes­ter­day, Ne­tanyahu de­scribed a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry on Thurs­day, when Is­rael and Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump suc­cess­fully pressed Egypt to drop the anti-set­tle­ment res­o­lu­tion it had put for­ward. It was re­sub­mit­ted a day later by New Zealand, Sene­gal, Venezuela and Malaysia.

“Over decades Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tions and Is­raeli gov­ern­ments dis­agreed about set­tle­ments, but we agreed that the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was not the place to re­solve this is­sue,” Ne­tanyahu said. “We knew that go­ing there would make ne­go­ti­a­tions harder and drive peace farther away. As I told John Kerry on Thurs­day, ‘Friends don’t take friends to the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil’,” he said, switch­ing from He­brew to English.

Is­rael has pur­sued a pol­icy of con­struct­ing set­tle­ments on ter­ri­tory it cap­tured in a 1967 war with its Arab neigh­bors - the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, ar­eas Pales­tini­ans seek for a state. Most coun­tries view the set­tle­ment ac­tiv­ity as il­le­gal and an ob­sta­cle to peace. Is­rael dis­agrees, cit­ing bi­b­li­cal and his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tions to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as se­cu­rity in­ter­ests. — Reuters

JERUSALEM: Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu (cen­ter) ar­rives for a weekly cabi­net meet­ing yes­ter­day. — AP

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