- Thomson Reuters
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that it was “reducing” working ties with 12 of the UN Security Council countries that voted to pass a resolution urging Israel to stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
Foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told reporters that Israel was “temporarily reducing” visits and work with embassies, refuting reports that Israel had completely suspended working ties with the countries. He did not provide further details.
Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said that the reduction in ties was meant to show the nations that “you can’t take Israel for granted.”
The Foreign Ministry confirmed that Israel was “reducing” the ties two days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned 10 of the nations’ ambassadors to Jerusalem to personally reprimand them for the vote.
The Times of Israel initially reported that foreign ministers and ambassadors from Britain, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Angola, Egypt, Uruguay, Spain, Senegal, and New Zealand would not be received at Israel’s Foreign Ministry amid the suspension, and that they would not be granted an audience with Netanyahu.
It is unclear whether the “reduction” in ties will carry the same terms.
The US abstained from the UN vote on Friday, which has further increased tensions between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama stemming from the US-led nuclear negotiations with Iran and Obama’s longstanding opposition to Israel’s settlement policy.
Netanyahu called the US’s refusal to veto the resolution “shameful” and “underhanded,” and on Sunday he held a public cabinet meeting in which he accused Obama of conspiring with Palestine to craft the resolution and bring it to a vote at the UN.
“According to our information, we have no doubt the Obama administration initiated it (the resolution), stood behind it, coordinated the wording, and demanded it be passed,” Netanyahu said.
The White House has denied that allegation, reiterating that it allowed the resolution to pass – instead of wielding its veto power – because it is concerned that Israel’s settlement construction in Palestinian territory is not conducive to negotiations over a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Explaining her decision to abstain from the vote, the US’s ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said that the US had “been sending the message that the settlements must stop, privately and publicly, for five decades” and that allowing its passage was “in line with bipartisan US policy.”
She added that the US was still committed to Israel’s security and working toward a two-state solution.
Palestinians say the West Bank and East Jerusalem should be part of their future state, but nearly 600,000 Israelis have settled there in what the Palestinians say is an illegal occupation of their territory.
Palestine’s ambassador to the UN said that the vote would “alleviate the suffering of our people” and that Palestinian appeals to stop the settlements had “been calls for the council to contribute” to long-term peace in the region and in the world. He said “urgent efforts are needed” to hold Israel accountable for its settlement expansion.
The 15-member UN Security Council most recently adopted a resolution on Israeli settlements 36 years ago. The chamber broke into spontaneous applause after the latest resolution was passed, with 14 members voting “yes” and only the US abstaining.
The resolution “condemned all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the Palestinian territory, occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem” and requested the UN secretary-general “to report to the council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution.”
“Over decades American administrations and Israeli governments disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the security council was not the place to resolve this issue,” Netanyahu said during his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
“We knew that going there would make negotiations harder and drive peace farther away,” he said. “As I told John Kerry on Thursday, ‘Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.'”
This article has been updated.