Monday 16 September 2019

Angry Israel summons envoys on Christmas Day in settlement row

Conspiracy claim: Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters
Conspiracy claim: Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters

Jeffrey Heller

Israel summoned the ambassadors of 11 nations including the US to Jerusalem to reprimand them on Christmas Day and again lashed out at the Obama administration over a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to settlement-building.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed his personal anger at the row by repeating at the weekly cabinet meeting what an unidentified Israeli government official claimed on Friday - that Washington had conspired with the Palestinians to push for the resolution's adoption.

The White House has denied the allegation.

The vote passed in the 15-member Security Council on Friday because the United States broke with its long-standing approach of diplomatically shielding Israel and did not wield, as a permanent member of the forum, its veto power, instead abstaining.

"According to our information, we have no doubt the Obama administration initiated it (the resolution), stood behind it, co-ordinated the wording and demanded it be passed," Mr Netanyahu told the cabinet in public remarks.

Ambassadors from 10 of the 14 countries that voted in favour of the resolution and have embassies in Israel - Britain, China, Russia, France, Egypt, Japan, Uruguay, Spain, Ukraine and New Zealand - were summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Mr Netanyahu also summoned the American ambassador to protest at the US abstention in the vote.

Sunday is a regular work day in Israel, but most embassies are closed, and calling in envoys on Christmas Day is highly unusual.

At the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday, Mr Netanyahu described a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, when Israel and US president-elect Donald Trump successfully pressed Egypt to drop the anti-settlement resolution it had put forward.

It was resubmitted a day later by New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia.

"Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the security council was not the place to resolve this issue," Mr Netanyahu said.

"We knew that going there would make negotiations harder and drive peace farther away. As I told John Kerry on Thursday, 'Friends don't take friends to the Security Council'," he said.

Israel has pursued a policy of constructing settlements on territory it captured in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbours - the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News