Israel slams US for UN 'gang-up' on settlement vote

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adjusts his glasses during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (Gali Tibbon, AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adjusts his glasses during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (Gali Tibbon, AP)

Washington - The White House orchestrated a "gang-up" against Israel on last week's UN settlement vote, its ambassador to Washington said on Monday, in the latest sign of anger between the long-time allies.

Israel's ambassador Ron Dermer said in an interview with CNN that his government plans to show evidence of the alleged US manoeuvring in due time.

"What is outrageous is that the United States was actually behind that gang-up. I think it was a very sad day, really a shameful chapter," the Israeli diplomat told CNN.

"We have clear evidence of it. We will present that evidence to the new administration through the appropriate channels. And if they want to share it with the US people they're welcome to do it," Dermer said, adding that the Israeli government is "deeply disappointed" with Washington over the UN vote.

On Friday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding that "Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem".

Trump position

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The US - which has a veto - refrained from casting its vote, enabling the adoption of the measure, the first resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.

Dermer accused the Obama administration of helping Palestinians "wage a diplomatic and legal war against Israel".

They do not want to negotiate peace with us, which is why they've avoided negotiations for eight years," he said.

"What do the Palestinians want? What they want is to blame Israel for the lack of peace and to internationalise the conflict," Dermer continued.

"What this resolution just did is it gave the Palestinians ammunition in their diplomatic and legal war against Israel. And the US not only didn't stop it, they were behind it."

Obama's soon-to-be successor, president-elect Donald Trump, who has campaigned on a promise to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, slammed the position taken by the White House.

Trump, who last week said Washington should have used its veto to block the resolution, has chosen as ambassador to Israel the hardliner David Friedman, who has said Washington will not pressure Israel to curtail settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro Sunday to express his displeasure.

An official Israeli source confirmed only that Netanyahu and Shapiro had met, without elaborating on the content or outcome of their discussions.

The text was passed with support from all remaining members of the 15-member council, with applause breaking out in the chamber.

The Haaretz daily's website said that for Israel to summon an American ambassador was "considered a most unusual step".

"Even more unusual is the fact that unlike the other envoys who were summoned on Sunday to the foreign ministry, Netanyahu will conduct the conversation himself at his office," it said ahead of the meeting.

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