Moral Low Ground


Defiant Israel Vows to Give Trump ‘Evidence’ Obama Orchestrated UN Resolution Condemning Settlements

Israel’s ambassador to the United States claims his country has “clear evidence” the Obama administration was behind the United Nations Security Council resolution passed on Friday condemning the illegal Jewish-only settler colonies in occupied Palestine.

“We will present that evidence to the new administration through the appropriate channels,” Ambassador Ron Dermer told CNN on Monday, referring to President-elect Donald Trump and his coalescing cabinet. “And if they want to share it with the American people, they’re welcome to.”

On Friday, the UN Security Council voted 13-0 in favor of a resolution declaring Israeli settlements a “flagrant violation” of international law. In an historic move, the United States — which has almost always offered Israel diplomatic cover against similar measures by using its veto power — abstained from the vote. Trump had urged the Obama administration to veto the resolution, which some critics called “toothless” because it does not threaten any sanctions for Israeli violations of international law.

“It’s an old story that the United Nations gangs up on Israel,” Dermer said during the CNN interview. “What is new is that the United States did not stand up and oppose that gang up. And what is outrageous is that the United States was actually behind that gang up.”

Dermer’s remarks came after David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also blamed the Obama administration for the resolution’s passage.

“We have rather iron-clad information from sources in both the Arab world and internationally that this was a deliberate push by the United States and in fact they helped create the resolution in the first place,” Keyes told Fox News on Sunday.

The Obama administration vehemently denies being behind the resolution. “We did not draft this resolution; we did not introduce this resolution,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said in a statement released on Friday. “We made this decision when it came up for a vote.”

​While it has been the policy of successive US administrations to declare their opposition to Israeli settlement construction and expansion — the State Department issued a legal opinion calling such colonization “inconsistent with international law” in 1978, and while the issue of settlements has caused considerable tension between the two nations going back decades, the United States has repeatedly blocked anti-settlement resolutions in the UN. Most recently, the Obama administration vetoed such a measure in 2011. The US also provides Israel with around $3 billion in unconditional annual military aid; Obama recently approved a record $38 billion aid package to be delivered over the next decade.

Under international law, Jewish settler colonies built or expanded on Palestinian territory are illegal. Israel’s 49-year occupation of the West Bank is also illegal under international law, although Israel refutes the illegality of both the settlements and the occupation. Israel points to the fact that Jews have lived in Palestine for thousands of years, however, from ancient times until the early 20th century Jews never numbered more than 10 percent of the population of the territory comprising the state of Israel today. More than 800,000 Jews currently reside in illegal settlements in the West Bank or illegally occupied portions of East Jerusalem.

International critics, including former United Nations human rights official Richard Falk (who is Jewish American), the Israeli historian Ilan Pappé and the late activist and Holocaust survivor Suzanne Weiss have asserted that Israeli settlement construction and expansion amount to “ethnic cleansing.” Other prominent international observers, including the Nobel peace laureates Jimmy CarterDesmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire, have accused Israel of practicing “apartheid” against the Palestinians.

In response to the latest UN anti-settlement resolution, Netanyahu defiantly announced on Monday that Israel would move ahead with the construction of thousands of new settler homes in East Jerusalem. He also cautioned against further UN action, warning “Israel does not turn the other cheek.” Netanyahu also took the highly unusual step of summoning US Ambassador Dan Shapiro to his office to reprimand him for what the Israeli leader called a “shameful” resolution. “From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, co-ordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed,” Netanyahu said, according to BBC News. “Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council,” he added.

Israel also  temporarily suspended all working ties with the embassies of 12 Security Council member nations which supported the measure: Angola, China, Egypt, France, Japan, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Ambassador Dermer, who called the UN a “cesspool” of anti-Israel and anti-American activity, told Fox News he appreciated Trump’s support and looked forward to the billionaire businessman’s impending inauguration.

“Things will be different after January 20,” Dermer said, suggesting that the Trump administration could consider cutting UN funding. “I think a new president and Congress that wants to make sure that every penny of your money is going to something that protects and defends and advances US interests —  I think there’s a lot of changes that could happen at the United Nations,” he said.

After initially promising to be “neutral” in the Israel-Palestine conflict, Trump quickly positioned himself as staunchly pro-Israel, promising — as did Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before him —  to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, a move Middle East experts say would likely spark widespread violence.

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