US led UN ‘gang-up’ on Israel settlement vote: ambassador


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

Ambassador Ron Dermer said in an interview with CNN that the Israeli 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, employing unusually sharp language to describe the relationship.

“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.

Read more: Israelis called Trump to weigh in ahead of UN Security Council 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.”

The United States — which has a veto in the Security Council — refrained from casting its vote, enabling the adoption of the measure, the first resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.

Relations between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have long been cool, with sharp differences over settlement policy, the contours of a potential Middle East peace deal, and Iran’s nuclear program. Israel receives more than $3 billion in annual US aid — a record $3.8 billion starting in 2018 — and previous Israeli leaders have carefully nursed the relationship.

But Dermer bluntly 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.

Trump said his inauguration will mark the end of Obama-era strained relations with Washington, and will see a return to unstinting support for Israel.

“As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th,” Trump tweeted after the Security Council vote.

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 substance of their discussions.

The UN 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.

Read more: Israel to re-assess UN ties after settlement resolution: Netanyahu