"I want to express my appreciation and gratitude to the US and Australia," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday after the UN Security Council rejected on Tuesday a Palestinian resolution calling for peace with Israel within a year and an end to the "Israeli occupation" of Palestinian territories by late 2017.
The resolution failed to achieve the 9-votes majority required to pass, and Netanyahu said he also received assurances from the Rwandan and Nigerian presidents that they would not support the resolution: "They stood by their words and this is what tipped the scales," Netanyahu said.
France and Luxembourg were among countries that voted in favor of the UN resolution, reflecting growing impatience, especially in Europe, over the lack of progress in more than two decades of on-again off-again peace talks.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose diplomatic ties in Africa were also said to be instrumental in swinging the Rwanda and Nigeria vote, said "the Palestinian failure should teach them that provocation and attempts to force Israel unilateral concessions on Israel will lead nowhere, quite the opposite."
Lieberman also slammed what he called the "Palestinian disregard for the most important actors in the international community – first and foremost the US – stems from the support they enjoy from some European countries."
The Palestinian leadership met Wednesday to plan its next steps after a resolution to end Israel's occupation was rejected by the UN Security Council, and could set a date for applying to join the International Criminal Court, Palestinian officials told Ynet.
Meanwhile, Hamas denounced Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for the "failure" to push through a UN resolution: "This was a unilateral decision taken by Abu Mazen (Abbas) who has taken the Palestinian decision-making process hostage," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP, describing it as a "new failure" by the Palestinian leader.
The UN vote Tuesday against the Palestinian bid, which called for the Israeli occupation to end within three years, was a blow to an Arab campaign for international action to bring about an independent Palestinian state.
The Palestinians have long vowed to join the ICC in order to press charges against Israel for alleged war crimes. But membership could expose the Palestinians to similar allegations.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said officials would hold a "very serious meeting" Wednesday and could set a date for applying for membership to the court and other international agencies.
"There will be no more waiting, no more hesitation, no more slowdown," Erekat said. "We are going to meet and make decisions."
Elior Levy, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report