The Slatest

Furious Israel Cancels Aid Programs, Recalls Ambassadors After U.N. Vote

An Israeli soldier stands guard blocking an entrance to the Jewish settlers zone of Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighbourhood, near al-Shuhada street in the city centre of the West Bank town on Sept. 18, 2016.


Israel is none too happy that the U.N. Security Council has called its illegal settlements in occupied territories illegal and is not taking it sitting down. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for one, did not mince words. “Israel categorically rejects the despicable anti-Israeli resolution at the U.N., and will not adhere to it,” his office said in a statement after the vote. Israel quickly moved to take swift action against two of the four relatively small, powerless countries—Malaysia, New Zealand, Venezuela, and Senegal—that co-sponsored the resolution after Egypt backed out at the last minute following lots of pressure from Netanyahu’s administration.

Shortly after the resolution was approved 14-0 with the United States abstaining, Israel recalled its ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal. Netanyahu’s administration also called off a planned visit by the Senegalese foreign minister to Israel next month as well as all aid programs to Senegal. Notably, Israel isn’t taking action against any of the more powerful countries that voted in favor of the resolution that could have blocked it, including Russia and China.

Netanyahu did have harsh words for the United States, which broke tradition and failed to use its veto power, thus allowing the first anti-settlements resolution to pass the Security Council in decades. “The Obama administration not only failed to defend Israel from this harassment at the U.N., it cooperated with it behind the scenes,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement, adding that Israel was “looking forward to working with President-elect [Donald] Trump and with our friends in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to undo the damage of this absurd resolution.”

Israel was hardly alone in threatening to cut aid to those who supported the resolution. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Republican who leads a Senate panel in charge of payments to the United Nations, vowed to “form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce” funding for the multilateral organization. Those who voted in favor of the resolution and receive U.S. funding could also suddenly see aid programs cut, he warned.

It wasn’t just Republicans who criticized the U.S. failure to veto the resolution, “a reflection of the deep loyalty to Israel shared by Democrats and Republicans,” notes the New York Times. “It is extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding that the administration has failed to veto this resolution,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

Even as Palestinian leaders praised the U.N. vote, Israel insisted that the Security Council resolution would make peace in the region even less likely. The U.N. action was “a big blow to Israeli policy, a unanimous international condemnation of settlements and a strong support for the two-state solution,” a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said. But Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said the vote would not bring the sides closer. “By voting ‘yes’ in favor of this resolution, you have in fact voted ‘no,’” Danon said. “You voted ‘no’ to negotiations. You voted ‘no’ to progress, and a chance for better lives for Israelis and Palestinians. And you voted ‘no’ to the possibility of peace.”