Lashing Out, Israel Vows More Settlements, Reduces Diplomatic Ties
Allies to Netanyahu also promised to give 'evidence' to Trump that Obama was secret architect of anti-settlement resolution
Israel is lashing out in the wake of last week's United Nations resolution that demanded the country put an end to settlement activity on occupied Palestinian territory.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned Israel's U.S. ambassador Sunday for a private meeting, while close allies to the right-wing prime minister claimed that President Barack Obama was secretly behind the resolution—and promised to share "evidence" of Obama's alleged role with president-elect Donald Trump, whose choice for ambassador to Israel signals an extremely pro-Israel stance.
"Israel's threat to present 'evidence' on a sitting president, and one of Israel's closest allies, to an incoming presidential team—and to do it so publicly—appears almost unprecedented," the Guardian observed.
Netanyahu commented to his cabinet Sunday: "[A]s I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don't take friends to the Security Council."
Israel has also suspended or reduced ties with the 12 countries who voted for the resolution, summoning its ambassadors to China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Angola, Egypt, Japan, Spain, Ukraine, and Uruguay, according to CNN. The country further reduced its ties with New Zealand and Senegal, which both brought the resolution to a vote Friday. The government has also asked officials to refrain from traveling to countries that voted for the resolution.
And the country announced a plan late Monday to ramp up its settlement activity in defiance of the resolution, the New York Times reported. Jerusalem is planning "to approve 600 housing units in the predominantly Palestinian eastern section of town on Wednesday in what a top official called a first installment on 5,600 new homes," the Times noted.
"Israel is a country with national pride, and we do not turn the other cheek," Netanyahu said about his retaliation, according to the newspaper. "This is a responsible, measured, and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the U.N. is unacceptable to us."
Despite the current tensions, Secretary of State John Kerry is planning to announce a "comprehensive vision" for an Israel-Palestine peace accord, an Obama aide told an Israeli TV news station Monday.
Bloomberg also reported that "Israel's government is now turning its attention to a conference planned for Jan. 15 in Paris, concerned the international community could seek to impose a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
The outlet further noted:
According to a senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue is sensitive, the government fears foreign ministers in Paris will draft parameters Israel considers unfavorable, and will seek to impose them through the Security Council before Obama leaves office five days later.
"What they're preparing there in Paris is a modern version of the Dreyfus Trial," Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday, referencing an infamous 19th-century case in which a French Jewish army officer was imprisoned for treason after a trial marred by anti-Semitism. The difference, he said, is that "this time, the whole people of Israel and the whole State of Israel will be in the guilty dock."
Al Jazeera quotes Rami Saleh, a Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (JLAC) director, as saying that there is little likelihood the U.N. resolution will be at all respected.
"What we are seeing is not new," Saleh told Al Jazeera. "It's a continuation of Israel's policies throughout recent years. Israel does not respect the U.N. and this decision is an extension of its commitment to refuse to abide by international law."
"In 2016, we saw the construction of almost 1,600 settler homes in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. This number is four times the number of illegal homes constructed in 2014," Saleh observed.