Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed at the Obama administration on Saturday, after a U.S. abstention in a UN vote that passed a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement construction.
“The Obama administration has carried out an underhanded and an anti-Israel maneuver at the United Nations Security Council,” Netanyahu said of the resolution passed by the 15-member body on Friday.
The hardline prime minister also slammed the motion as “distorted and shameful.”
Israel has recalled its envoys in New Zealand and Senegal, which, together with Venezuela and Malaysia, submitted the resolution that was passed by a 14-0 majority.
Netanyahu suggested that Israel might sever ties with the United Nations, saying he had already ordered to cut funds of 30 million shekels (8 million U.S. dollars) to five “exceptionally hostile” UN bodies.
“There isn’t a greater absurdity than calling the Western Wall an ‘occupied territory’,” Netanyahu said of the site in East Jerusalem, a territory that Israel seized in 1967 and the Palestinians see as their future capital.
The Israeli cabinet has vowed to respond with a full annexation of settlement blocs.
The UN vote came in the wake of the Regulation Bill, which the Israeli parliament approved in its first out of three readings almost three weeks ago to legalize Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian lands.
The motion demands Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” It states that the building of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”
The United States, Israel’s closest ally, traditionally protects Israel from such motions.
B’Tselem, one of Israel’s largest human rights organizations, welcomed the resolution.
“Today’s United Nations Security Council resolution reaffirms international consensus that Israel’s settlements are illegal and harm Palestinian human rights,” the group said in a statement.
“It is not an ‘anti-Israeli’ resolution, but a balanced one, which rejects the occupation, not Israel,” the statement read, adding that the group expects further international measures “for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.”
About 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands that Israel seized in the 1967 Mideast War and has been controlling them ever since, despite international condemnations.
The Palestinians wish to build their future state on these lands.
The U.S. officially opposes the settlements and considers them as an obstacle to peace. The settlements are illegal under international law. Enditem