Israel says U.S. behind rebuke
Netanyahu calls U.N. resolution “shameful”
jerusalem» Doubling down on its public break with the Obama administration, a furious Israeli government on Tuesday said it had received “ironclad” information from Arab sources that Washington actively helped craft last week’s U.N. resolution declaring Israeli settlements in occupied territories illegal.
The allegations further poisoned a toxic atmosphere between Israel and the outgoing administration in the wake of Friday’s vote, raising questions about whether the White House might take further action against settlements in President Barack Obama’s final weeks in office.
With the U.S. expected to participate in an international peace conference in France next month and Secretary of State John Kerry planning a final policy speech, the Palestinians hope to capitalize on the momentum. Israel’s nationalist government is banking on the incoming Trump administration to undo the damage with redoubled support.
Although the U.S. has long opposed the settlements, it has generally used its Security Council veto to protect its ally from censure. On Friday, it abstained from a resolution calling settlements a “flagrant violation” of international law, allowing it to pass by a 14-0 margin.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had a cool relationship with Obama, called the resolution “shameful” and accused the U.S. of playing an active role in its passage.
On Tuesday, his spokesman went even further.
“We have ironclad information that emanates from sources in the Arab world and that shows the Obama administration helped craft this resolution and pushed hard for its eventual passage,” David Keyes said. “We’re not just going to be a punching bag and go quietly into the night.”
He did not identify the Arab sources or say how Israel obtained the information. Israel has close security ties with Egypt, the original sponsor of last week’s resolution who, as the lone Arab member of the Security Council, was presenting it at the Palestinians’ request. Under heavy Israeli pressure, Egypt delayed the resolution indefinitely — but other members presented it for a vote a day later. Egypt ended up voting in favor of the measure.
The Obama administration has vehemently denied Israel’s allegations.
“We did not draft, advance, promote or even tell any other country how we would vote on this resolution in advance of the Egyptians putting it in blue last week,” said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.
The Obama administration has acknowledged that it considered the possibility of abstaining on a settlements resolution over the past year as various drafts were circulated by different countries. In announcing the abstention, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power referred to continued Israeli settlement construction and a recent effort to retroactively legalize dozens of illegally built settlement outposts.
A White House official said the U.S. was approached repeatedly by countries urging it to let the resolution pass, yet replied only by saying the U.S. would feel forced to veto any resolution that didn’t also criticize the Palestinians for inciting violence. The official wasn’t authorized to comment by name and requested anonymity.
The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in 1967, as part of an independent state.