Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer calls White House aide Ben Rhodes a ‘master of fiction’. PM defends strident campaign and says he ‘will not turn the other cheek’.
Israel’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that the country will present President-elect Donald Trump with “evidence” that the Obama administration orchestrated an anti-settlement resolution at the United Nations Security Council on Friday.
Ron Dermer told CNN that Israel is angry with the US over the resolution because it is “the only country where we have any expectation to actually stand with us at the United Nations.”
The US abstained from the vote, which passed 14-0.
“It’s an old story that the United Nations gangs up against Israel. 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 said.
Confirming claims made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman a day earlier, Dermer said Israel has proof the White House drove the resolution, and will “present this evidence to the new administration through the appropriate channels.”
“If they want to share it with the American people, they are welcome to do it,” he said, sidestepping a question on why Israel would not release the information itself.
Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Netanyahu’s spokesman David Keyes said Arab sources, among others, had informed Jerusalem of President Barack Obama’s alleged involvement in advancing the resolution.
“We have ironclad information, frankly, that the Obama administration really helped push this resolution and helped craft it, from sources internationally and sources in the Arab world,” Keyes told the US media outlet.
The White House has adamantly denied “cooking up” the resolution, rejecting accusations by Netanyahu to that effect.
“We did not draft this resolution; we did not introduce this resolution. We made this decision when it came up for a vote,” Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said on Friday. But because of its opposition to settlement activity and concern for what it could mean for the region, the US “could not in good conscience veto,” he added.
Dermer, in a subsequent interview with MSNBC Monday, called Rhodes a “master of fiction” — a harsh barb that seemed to evoke Rhodes’ past literary aspirations.
Netanyahu held a 40-minute meeting with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro on Sunday evening, having summoned the envoy to explain why the US abstained in the vote on Resolution 2334. He had earlier summoned the envoys of the 12 nations with representatives in Israel that voted for the resolution for a dressing-down at the Foreign Ministry.
Netanyahu on Monday defended the rebukes and the punitive measures he has taken against countries who proposed the resolution, saying that “Israel is a country with national pride and we will not turn the other cheek.
“There is continued importance for this sort of response, even if there are more attempts to damage us in the coming month,” he said, referring to the remaining three and a half weeks of Obama’s term.
But Netanyahu is now actively reaching out to the incoming Trump administration, which takes office on January 20, and to friends in Congress, in the hope of “deterring” what he sees as further potential Obama administration-led diplomatic action against Israel, a report by Channel 2 said Sunday. His aim is reportedly for the Trump team to make plain that his administration will “economically hurt” those countries that voted against Israel in the UN and that do so in the future.
Netanyahu’s fear is that Secretary of State John Kerry will set out principles or parameters for a Palestinian state in a speech that he has said he will deliver in the next few days on his Middle East vision. The prime minister fears that, in its final days, the Obama administration will seek to have a resolution enshrining those parameters adopted by the UN Security Council, the report said.