JERUSALEM (JTA) — “Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his government.
Netanyahu made the remark Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting two days after the United States abstained from a United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Israel for continued settlement building. In a break from the norm, Netanyahu offered some of his remarks in English, presumably in order to make sure they would be properly understood by the U.S.
“Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments had disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue. We knew that going there would make negotiations harder and drive peace further away,” Netanyahu said.
“I’m encouraged by the statements of our friends in the United States, Republicans and Democrats alike. They understand how reckless and destructive this UN resolution was, they understand that the Western Wall isn’t occupied territory. I look forward to working with those friends and with the new administration when it takes office next month.”
In Hebrew, Netanyahu told the Cabinet that there is “no doubt” that in relation to the resolution passed Friday, the Obama administration “initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed.”
Netanyahu called it a “complete contradiction of the traditional American policy that was committed to not trying to dictate terms for a permanent agreement … [and] the explicit commitment of President Obama himself, in 2011, to refrain from such steps.”
He called on the government ministers to “act prudently, responsibly and calmly, in both actions and words.”
Netanyahu ordered Israel’s ambassadors from Senegal and New Zealand, the two cosponsors of the resolution with which Israel has diplomatic relations, recalled for consultation. He also ordered a halt to Israeli assistance to Senegal and threatened more sanctions.
In his position of foreign minister, Netanyahu canceled the visit to Israel scheduled for Tuesday of Ukraine’s prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, who is Jewish.
On Sunday morning, Christmas Day, Netanyahu summoned the ambassadors of 10 states that voted in favor of the Security Council resolution – China, Russia, France, Angola, Egypt, Japan, Ukraine, Great Britain, Spain and Uruguay – who were rebuked for their votes.
Senegal and New Zealand do not have embassies in Israel, and two other countries that supported the resolution, Venezuela and Malaysia, do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
Prior to the Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu reportedly told lawmakers from his Likud party that Obama may have other actions prepared to take against Israel on the Palestinian issue before he leaves office in three weeks, and called on them to not comment publicly on the issue.