Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned outgoing US President Barack Obama and said he is looking forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump after the US allowed the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution against illegal Israeli settlements.
Netanyahu made the comments on Saturday, a day after the Obama administration allowed the resolution to get adopted by refusing to veto it, breaking from a long-standing practice to shield Israel from UN condemnation.
“The Obama administration conducted a shameful anti-Israel ambush at the UN,” Netanyahu said. “We are entering a new era and as the President-elect Trump said yesterday, this is going to happen much quicker than people think.”
Netanyahu said the US abstention was “in complete contrast” to US commitments not to impose conditions on Israel at the Security Council. The UN resolution, while mostly symbolic, could further isolate Israel and hinder its negotiating position in future peace talks.
Tensions have intensified between the outgoing Obama administration and Israel after the UN resolution, which is likely the final bitter chapter in the years of antagonism between Obama and Netanyahu.
The decision to abstain from the council’s 14-0 vote is one of the biggest US rebukes of its long-standing ally in recent history. The Obama administration has grown increasingly frustrated with Israel’s illegal settlement construction, describing it as an obstacle to peace and a “two-state solution.”
The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, raised her hand to abstain in the chamber when the resolution was put to a vote. After the vote, she said the US chose not to veto the resolution because settlement building has “no legal validity.”
Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, reacted angrily to the vote and issued a sharp rebuke at the Obama administration’s role. “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share and that they would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution,” he said.
The vote came a day after Trump personally intervened to keep the measure from coming up for a vote. Israeli officials said they were aware of such plans by the White House and had turned to Trump for support.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Tel Aviv has defied international calls to stop the settlements expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.