The White House defended President Barack Obama over the U.S.’s abstention from a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements on the West Bank, saying Obama has done “more for Israel” than any other American president.
Members of the White House National Security Council defended the abstention vote on a press call Friday insisting that the United States could not veto the resolution, which they claimed “erodes a foundation for a two state solution.”
The White House said the abstention was consistent with past administrations and while the current administration believes construction of settlements on the West Bank would drum up more violence, it would rather not deal with issues pertaining to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict with the U.N. as a “vessel.”
“The United Nations, we continue to believe, is a flawed venue for this issue in that it has frequently been used to single out Israel, often through completely over-the-top exercises, that — again, when it comes to final status issues, we believe that those should be negotiated between the parties,” Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor said on the call.
President-elect Donald Trump slammed the White House for abstaining during the vote at the Security Council, tweeting that “things will be different” when he is inaugurated next month.
As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2016
The White House responded that there’s “one president at a time. President Obama is president of the United States until January 20 and we are taking this action as a US policy,” adding that the U.S. policy to oppose “this type of settlement activity” is nothing new.
Other Republicans criticized the move as well. Speaker of The House Paul Ryan described the “anti-Israel resolution” as “shameful.”
“This is absolutely shameful. Today’s vote is a blow to peace that sets a dangerous precedent for further diplomatic efforts to isolate and demonize Israel. Our unified Republican government will work to reverse the damage done by this administration, and rebuild our alliance with Israel,” Paul wrote in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed saying in a statement, “The past eight years of the Obama administration have been replete with actions that have abandoned our allies and turned away from our commitments. Today’s decision taken by the President to abstain from this vote–to fail to act on behalf of an ally represents a failure of leadership and judgment. It is highly regrettable that one of President Obama’s last actions in office was again to abandon our ally Israel.”
An Israeli official called the abstention an “ambush,” the Associated Press reported and President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.
A senior Israeli official told NBC News, “President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N. The U.S. administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back, which would be a tailwind for terror and boycotts, and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory.”
Rhodes called the charges full of “inaccuracies and falsehoods.”
“Let me just step back and put this in context for a moment. President Obama has done more for Israel and its security than any previous U.S. President. We just recently signed with Israel the single largest U.S. military assistance package in history — $38 billion over the coming decade. That comes after an administration in which we provided lifesaving assistance for the Iron Dome Missile Defense System, ” he said.
Rhodes added “We’ve achieved what Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has described as unprecedented security cooperation between our military and intelligence officials. We have repeatedly stood up for Israel in international fora in a variety of different ways, whether it was opposing efforts to address final status issues through the United Nations, or supporting greater Israeli integration into international fora.”