Netanyahu: Israel reevaluating ties with UN following resolution
The prime minister vows to 'overcome' the 'disgraceful' resolution against the settlements, which 'determines Western Wall is occupied territory'; also vows to 'cancel' decision, 'not by concessions from us, but by us and our allies standing firm.'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Saturday night to "overcome" the UN Security Council's resolution against the settlements, saying Israel was "reevaluating its ties with the UN."
"The resolution passed in the UN yesterday is distorted and disgraceful, but we will overcome it," Netanyahu said during a lighting ceremony for the first candle of Hanukkah in front of wounded IDF soldiers, disabled veterans and terror victims.
"The resolution determines that the Jewish Quarter (in Jerusalem) is occupied territory. It determines that the Western Wall, the Kotel, is occupied territory. There is no greater absurd than that," he said.
The prime minister recalled the Israeli ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal and ordered to stop all Israeli government aid to Senegal, saying "Those who work with us will gain, because Israel has a lot to offer the nations of the world. But those who stand against us will lose, because there will be a diplomatic and economic price to their actions against Israel."
He also said he asked the Foreign Ministry to "reevaluate all of our ties to the UN within a month," adding he had already cut NIS 30 million in funding to five UN institutions. "Five institutions that are particularly hostile towards Israel," he explained.
He also canceled an official visit by Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to the country, scheduled for next week, in protest of the fact Ukraine—normally a very friendly state towards Israel—voted in favor of the UN Security Council's anti-settlement resolution.
He criticized the attempt to force conditions on Israel vis-à-vis a final-status agreement with the Palestinians. "You might remember that the last one to try to do that was (Jimmy) Carter, a particularly hostile president to Israel, who just recently said Hamas wasn't a terror organization," the prime minister said. "Carter passed similar sweeping resolutions against us at the UN and that didn't succeed either. We objected to it, and nothing happened."
From Carter, Netanyahu turned his censure towards outgoing US President Barack Obama.
"All of the US presidents after Carter met the American commitment not to try and dictate to Israel at the Security Council conditions for a final-status agreement. And yesterday, in complete contradiction of this commitment—including specific commitment made by President Obama himself in 2011—the Obama administration carried out a disgraceful anti-Israeli underhanded move at the UN."
He argued that "not only does the resolution does not promote peace, it further pushes it away."
He lamented the "absurdity" in the fact the Obama administration and UN Security Council choose to "harass the only democracy in the Middle East, the State of Israel," while "half a million people are being massacred in Syria, tens of thousands are slaughtered in Sudan and the entire Middle East is going up in flames."
He vowed to "cancel" this resolution "just as we rejected the UN resolution that equated Zionism with racism,” noting that "it took a while, but that decision was canceled. It'll take time, but this decision will be canceled as well."
The prime minister said this will be achieved "not by concessions from us, but by us and our allies standing firm."
Netanyahu added that Israel learned its lesson from the Gaza Disengagement in 2005. "We uprooted towns, exhumed people. Did it help us in the UN? Did it improve the UN's treatment of us? We got thousands of rockets and we got the Goldstone Report from the UN," he said.
While Israel had no ally in Obama, the prime minister was confident it was nevertheless not alone. "I've spoken to many American leaders yesterday. I was happy to hear from the American Congressmen—Democrats and Republicans alike—that they will fight this resolution with all means at their disposal."
He said he received a similar message from the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump. "They said they'll go on an all-out-war against this resolution," Netanyahu reported.
One such move could be passing legislation in the US that would "punish countries or organizations who try to hurt Israel. They say it includes the UN itself as well."
The resolution, he said, was expected. "The resolution passed at the UN yesterday was just part of the swan song of the old world, which is biased against Israel," Netanyahu said.
"But, my friends, we are entering a new era that, as President-elect Trump said yesterday, is coming much sooner than most think. In this new era, there will be a steep price to pay, a much steeper price to pay, for those who try to harm Israel. And this price will be exacted not just by the United States, but also by Israel."
He claimed the resolution might actually help improve Israel's relations with countries around the world as "it is the last straw."
"It recruits our many friends in the United States and elsewhere in the world who tire of the UN's hostile treatment of Israel, and they plan to bring to a change at the UN," Netanyahu added.
"Here on the eve of Hanukkah, I stand next to the modern-day Maccabees—IDF soldiers and wounded soldiers. I salute you and say this clearly: Light will banish the darkness. The spirit of the Maccabees will come out on top," he concluded.
'Obama's final ploy'
Earlier, Israeli government officials said Washington's decision to abstain from the vote and not veto the resolution "was President Obama's final ploy. This is an act that exposed the administration's true face."
"Now it is easier to understand what we've been dealing with over the past eight years," one of the officials said. "This move was expected. Prime Minister Netanyahu warned it might come. There were also discussions in the cabinet about it."
The government officials also claimed the US had a hand in the writing and promoting of the resolution. "We know this from Arab and international sources," one official said.
"President-elect Trump, the US Congress and the Jewish organizations have all worked to try and prevent this move by the Obama administration," a government official added.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Ynet on Saturday night that "the Obama administration has decided to abandon Israel to the anti-Israeli trend in the UN. This wasn't an anti-settlement resolution, it was an anti-Israel resolution."
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) also slammed the Obama administration. "I think this is a very pathetic move. The Obama administration had a lot of time and many years to influence Israel, and hurting Israel like that on its last month is a cowardly act in my opinion," she said.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) also pointed an accusatory finger at the American administration, saying "The UN, whose leader only recently admitted that it is an organization that is biased against Israel, made an absurd decision because of the lack of leadership the US has demonstrated over the last few years."
Edelstein added that "if the Western Wall and Ramot are occupied territory, then the UN must determine that New York should be immediately returned to the Indians."
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose Bayit Yehudi party is pro-settlements, called the resolution "the direct result of the Oslo policy of concessions and withdrawals, and is destined to be thrown into history's trash like resolutions that came before it. This is the time to make a U-turn, it's time to move from withdrawals to sovereignty. We must apply Israeli law in Ma'aleh Adumim, the Jordan Valley, Ofra and all of Area C as soon as possible."