back to top
World

Israel Summons US Ambassador After Critical UN Resolution Passes

Obama's willingness to let a resolution critical of Israeli settlements in the West Bank pass at the UN is an "abandonment of Israel," a senior Israeli official told BuzzFeed News.

Originally posted on
Updated on

NEW YORK — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday summoned the US ambassador to Israel, according to multiple reports, after the Obama administration did not block a resolution before the United Nations condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The Egypt-drafted resolution came to a vote on Friday afternoon, a day after it was originally meant to be presented before the United Nations Security Council. As written, it refers to the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as "illegal" and calls for a halt to their construction to better promote an eventual "two-state solution" of Israel and an independent Palestine.

The Obama administration did not formally veto the resolution, despite holding the power as a permanent member of the Security Council.

In the exceptional move on Sunday, Netanyahu himself summoned Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, according to Haaretz and CNN.

Israel's Foreign Ministry also said it had began summoning the ambassadors of countries who voted in favor of the resolution, including those from the permanent members of the Security Council — Russia, China, the UK and France.

But unlike the other summoned ambassadors, Shapiro was expected to meet on Sunday night directly with the Israeli prime minister.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Ahead of the vote, a senior Israeli official called the move to abstain "shameful."

"President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN," a senior Israeli official told BuzzFeed News in an unsolicited comment. "The US administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel's back which would be a tailwind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory."

But Kerry said that "we cannot in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace," according to NBC News.

On Saturday, Israel President Reuven Rivlin tweeted that Jerusalem it the "eternal capital of Israel" and that no international body has the power to change this, adding that the move brings Israel no closer to negotiating with the Palestinians.

This disgraceful decision brings us no nearer to negotiations with the Palestinians, but rather makes such a prospect even more distant.

Also Saturday, during a candle lighting ceremony celebrating the first night of Hannukah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resolution "distorted and disgraceful" and vowed that Israel would overcome it, Ynet News reported.

"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 said.

Netanyahu said Israel was considering a "plan of action" against the UN but did not elaborate further. "We will do all it takes so Israel emerges unscathed from this shameful decision," he said.

And in a statement released to Reuters on Friday Netanyahu added that his country will "not abide" by the resolution.

He angrily denounced the Obama administration for letting it pass, saying he is looking forward to working with President-Elect Trump in the future "to negate the harmful affects of this absurd resolution."

The United States has traditionally used its veto power in the Council to reject any resolutions that target Israel; a resolution similar to the one currently tabled was vetoed in 2011. The US, as it had previously indicated, abstained on the vote allowing it to pass by a vote of 14 to none, with one abstention.

A round of applause filled the chamber after the resolution's passage.

"President Obama could declare his willingness to veto this resolution in an instant but instead is pushing it," the Israeli official wrote to BuzzFeed News. "This is an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration of advancing peace."

However, Amnesty International praised the move in a statement, saying dismantling Israeli settlements is the "only way to a just and durable peace."

“The resolution includes a crucial demand that the Israeli authorities immediately halt all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories," the statement said. "Such activities constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, constitute a war crime."

The resolution has been a moment of high drama the UN over the last 48 hours, as governments have sparred with each other to try and move it over the finish line.

On Thursday morning, President-elect Donald Trump weighed in, posting on Facebook that the resolution should be vetoed.

"As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations," Trump wrote. "This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis."

Egypt soon after pulled the resolution from being voted on. On Friday, the Egyptian government revealed that the decision came after a call between Trump and Egyptian president Abdel Fateh el-Sisi. The two men met during Sisi's visit to the United Nations General Assembly in September and seemed to hit it off.

"During the call, they discussed regional affairs and developments in the Middle East, and in that context the draft resolution in front of the Security Council on Israeli settlement," Egyptian presidential spokesperson Alaa Yousef told Al Jazeera.

Trump's call to Sisi in turn was prompted by one from the Israeli government, CNN reported on Thursday. An Israeli official told the network that Israel had "implored the White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump."

Egypt eventually relented to pressure from four other Security Council members — New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal — who said that they would bring the draft to a vote if Cairo continue to refuse. Barring the US's veto, the resolution is expected to pass.

Advertisement

In a tweet after the vote, Trump seemed to warn that things would change under his administration.

As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.

"As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th," he wrote, referring to his inauguration.

Sen. John McCain called it "shameful."

Passage of resolution on Israeli settlements marks another shameful chapter in @UN's bizarre anti-#Israel history https://t.co/uaqewENjR3

House Speaker Paul Ryan agreed that under the Trump administration, Congress would make changes.

My statement on the Obama administration's refusal to veto the anti-Israel UN resolution ↓ https://t.co/jdS7mRmDSk

"Our unified Republican government will work to reverse the damage done by this administration, and rebuild our alliance with Israel," he said.

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

Alicia Melville-Smith is a homepage editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alicia Melville-Smith at alicia.melville-smith@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.