Obama accused of 'shameful' anti-Israeli move at UN

Obama accused of 'shameful' anti-Israeli move at UN

An Israeli official has accused US president Barack Obama of colluding with the Palestinians in a "shameful move against Israel at the UN".

The comments came after the official learned the White House did not intend to veto a Security Council resolution condemning settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem the day before.

The official said: "President Obama and Secretary (of state, John) Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN.

"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."

He called it "an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN".

Earlier, the official said Israel's prime minister had turned to president-elect Donald Trump to help head off the critical UN resolution.

Although the US opposes the settlements, it has traditionally used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to block resolutions condemning Israel, saying that disputes between Israel and the Palestinians must be resolved through negotiations.

But after eight years of failed peace efforts during the Obama administration, Israel has expressed concern the outgoing president would take an audacious step to leave his mark on the region. In recent weeks, the White House had been especially secretive about its deliberations.

The Israeli official's admission marked a final chapter in the icy relations between prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Obama over the last eight years, and signalled an era of close ties between Israel and the incoming Trump administration.

Israel knew even before the Egyptian draft resolution that the White House was planning an "ambush" and coordinating it with the Palestinians, said another Israeli official.

Israeli diplomats believe they were misled by the US during a meeting last week between high-ranking Israeli and Obama administration officials in which the US side offered reassurances about its efforts to support Israel, but declined to explicitly state that the US would veto such a resolution if it came up.

The Israelis told their counterparts that "friends don't take friends to the Security Council", the official said.

The Egyptian-sponsored resolution had demanded that Israel halt settlement activities in occupied territories claimed by the Palestinians and declared that existing settlements "have no legal validity".

Under heavy Israeli pressure, Egypt called off a planned vote in the Security Council hours before it was to take place. In the diplomatic activity ahead of the postponement, both Mr Netanyahu and Mr Trump issued nearly identical statements urging the US to veto the measure.

"After becoming aware that the administration would not veto the anti-Israel resolution, Israeli officials reached out to Trump's transition team to ask for the president-elect's help to avert the resolution," the Israeli official said.

On Friday, Egypt said its president had received a call from Mr Trump in which they both agreed to give the incoming US administration a chance to try and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The call came hours after Egypt indefinitely postponed the UN vote.

A statement from the Egyptian presidency said the two men had spoken by phone and agreed on "the importance of giving a chance for the new American administration to deal in a comprehensive way with the different aspects of the Palestinian issue with the aim of achieving a comprehensive and a final resolution".

A senior Palestinian official said Egypt did not consult with the Palestinians about delaying the vote and it was a "complete shock" for them. Egypt represents Arab states on the security council.

Egypt is the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, and the two countries have close security ties in a shared struggle against Islamic militants.

The Palestinian mission to the United Nations said the Security Council will vote later in the day on the resolution condemning Israel's settlement construction, now sponsored by New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela.

The US, along with the Palestinians and nearly all of the international community, opposes Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as obstacles to peace. Some 600,000 Israelis live in the two territories, which the Palestinians seek as part of a future independent state. Israel captured both areas in the 1967 war.

Mr Trump has signalled he will be far more sympathetic to Israel. His campaign platform made no mention of the establishment of a Palestinian state, a core policy objective of Democratic and Republican presidents over the past two decades.

He also has vowed to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would put the US at odds with the Palestinians and almost the entire remainder of the international community, while his choice for ambassador to Israel, Jewish-American lawyer David Friedman, is a donor and vocal supporter of the settlements.


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