US envoy to Israel summoned over UN settlement vote

Dan Shapiro had earlier been excluded from summons targeting 14 envoys of UNSC member states that voted for resolution.

Shapiro had been excluded from summons because the US abstained from UN vote, but Washington did not veto it, which helped it pass

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has summoned the US ambassador to Israel hours after envoys of all other UN Security Council members were asked to appear before the foreign ministry for voting for a resolution condemning settlement activity on occupied Palestinian territories.

Dan Shapiro, who was excluded from earlier summons targeting 14 UNSC member states, was on Sunday called to discuss the US decision to abstain. Ahead of the vote, Netanyahu had called on the US to veto the resolution.

The Israeli leader said that he has asked the foreign ministry to prepare an “action plan” to present to the security cabinet within a month over how to handle Israel’s relations with UN institutions.

“We will do all it takes so Israel emerges unscathed from this shameful decision,” Netanyahu said.

By way of rebuke of the vote, Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman also announced on Sunday that Israel was cutting civilian coordination with Palestinians.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Israel now had to choose between closing itself off or opening itself up to negotations.

“I call upon you this morning to seize the opportunity, to wake up, to stop the violence, to stop settlements and to resume negotiations,” he told Israel Radio on Sunday.

On Friday the Council passed the first resolution since 1979 condemning Israel over its settlement policy.

The resolution demands “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem”.

It says settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution.”

Netanyahu, who had rejected the resolution as a “shameful blow against Israel“, repeated the Israeli claim that US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were behind the resolution.

“We have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated the drafts and demanded to pass it,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting.

READ MORE: Security Council vote on Israeli settlements praised

“This is of course in total contradiction to the traditional American policy of not trying to impose conditions of a final resolution. And, of course, the explicit committment of President Obama himself in 2011 to avoid such measures.”

Netanyahu said that he had told Kerry: “Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.”

In addition to the pledges made on Sunday, Netanyahu cancelled his upcoming meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Additionally, Israel has cancelled a planned January visit to Israel by Senegal’s foreign minister. A visit by Ukraine’s prime minister has also been cancelled in light of its support for the UN vote.

While the resolution contains no sanctions, Israeli officials are concerned it could widen the possibility of prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

They are also worried it could encourage some countries to impose sanctions against Israeli settlers and goods produced in the settlements.

Army radio reported that Lieberman has ordered Israeli security to halt cooperation on civilian matters with the Palestinians, while retaining security coordination. Israeli officials refused to comment on the report.

OPINION: Barack Obama, John Kerry, and the Palestine saga

The measures taken on Sunday add to Netanyahu’s order to review engagements at the United Nations, including funding for UN agencies and the presence of its representatives in Israel.

Right-wing Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Saturday night that Israel should “announce a full annexation of settlement blocs” in response to the resolution.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home told army radio that his party would “soon propose a bill to annex Maale Adumim”, a settlement city east of Jerusalem.

(Source / 25.12.2016)


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