Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu started his weekly cabinet meeting today (Dec. 25) with a strong critique of US president Barack Obama. Accusing the White House of a “complete contradiction” in both American policy and a 2011 pledge from the president to keep the terms of a Middle East peace agreement from being dictated by the United Nations, Netanyahu lamented the Dec. 23 vote by the Security Council to end the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories.
“Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments had disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue,” Netanyahu said. “We knew that going there would make negotiations harder and drive peace further away.”
Fourteen of the 15 members of the Security Council voted for the draft resolution. Initially proposed by Egypt and put forward for a vote by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, and Venezuela, it calls for a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities” on Palestinian territory occupied since 1967—including East Jerusalem—and states that settlements in those areas have “no legal validity.”
The US abstained from the vote. But Netanyahu suggested American maneuvering was behind the resolution’s passage. “[F]riends don’t take friends to the Security Council,” he chided.
Below is the full statement, from a transcript provided by the government:
[Translated from Hebrew]
“I share ministers’ feelings, anger and frustration vis-à-vis the unbalanced resolution that is very hostile to the State of Israel, and which the [UN] Security Council passed in an unworthy manner. From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed. This is, of course, in complete contradiction of the traditional American policy that was committed to not trying to dictate terms for a permanent agreement, like any issue related to them in the Security Council, and, of course, the explicit commitment of President Obama himself, in 2011, to refrain from such steps.
We will do whatever is necessary so that Israel will not be damaged by this shameful resolution and I also tell the ministers here, we must act prudently, responsibly and calmly, in both actions and words. I ask ministers to act responsibly as per the directives that will be given today at the Security Cabinet meeting immediately following this meeting. I have also asked the Foreign Ministry to prepare an action plan regarding the UN and other international elements, which will be submitted to the Security Cabinet within one month. Until then, of course, we will consider our steps.”
“Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments had disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue. We knew that going there would make negotiations harder and drive peace further away.
And, as I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council. I’m encouraged by the statements of our friends in the United States, Republicans and Democrats alike. They understand how reckless and destructive this UN resolution was, they understand that the Western Wall isn’t occupied territory.
I look forward to working with those friends and with the new administration when it takes office next month. And I take this opportunity to wish Israel’s Christian citizens and our Christian friends around the world a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”