WASHINGTON – US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Monday that the US government would continue to ensure that Israel received fair treatment in the United Nations.
"As you know, we've long worked to ensure that Israel is treated fairly at the United Nations. That will continue. And as you know, Israel is a close friend and ally. And we remain committed to its security.
And as I said, that will continue," he said.
Wood was responding to a report by the New York Times, which said US President Barack Obama was considering the withdrawal of his country's automatic support for Israel in UN debates as a means to apply pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to Washington's demands on the settlements issue.
"The president and the secretary have made clear that all the parties have responsibilities to fulfill, to give Middle East peace efforts a chance to succeed. And US and Israeli officials are in intensive discussions on how this can best be achieved," Wood told reporters.
He said Obama's administration would not focus on agreements made between Israel and the Bush administration. "Both parties have obligations under the Road Map that they need to live up to. And we're going to do what we can, to help the parties do what they need to do," he said.
Earlier the Times reported a senior administration official said one of the steps being considered by the US administration in order to press Israel to halt settlement activity was not automatically vetoing Security Council resolutions to which Israel objects.
“There are things that could get the attention of the Israeli public,” the official told the New York Times, referring to a belief within the US government that the any prime minister viewed by the Israeli public as endangering the state’s relationship with Washington would suffer substantial backlash.
Meanwhile Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to meet with US Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday and to tell him that "pressure bolsters extremists", in regards to the Times report.
Barak plans to say that Israel will honor obligations agreed upon by previous governments. However he will clarify that rushed prohibitions imposed upon West Bank settlements could lead to conflict that would threaten regional stability.
A government official told Ynet that in the case of the settlements, the Israeli government was maintaining policies set by its predecessors. "It's the Americans who have changed their policies," he said.
He said Israel would stress three key points to the US administration in light of the dispute between the two countries. The first, he said, was the public support for the expansion of settlements due to 'natural growth'. He said the Labor Party also supported this move.
"The second is that the Israeli government is continuing the policies of previous governments and honoring the obligations they took upon themselves," the official said.
"The third is that the US government is not honoring the commitments of previous administrations, such as George Bush's obligation to allow the continuing construction in the settlements."