According to Haaretz, in an article titled “Britain Pulled the Strings and Netanyahu Warned New Zealand It Was Declaring War: New Details on Israel’s Battle Against the UN Vote” According to Haaretz: “The British secretly worked the Palestinians and urged New Zealand to move ahead with the resolution, and a call from Netanyahu to Putin triggered a real drama at the UN HQ just one hour before the vote.”
Last Friday, a few hours before the UN Security Council vote on the settlements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully. New Zealand, together with Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela, was leading the move to resubmit for a vote the resolution from which Egypt had backed down the day before.
A few hours earlier, a senior official in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem called New Zealand’s ambassador to Israel, Jonathan Curr, and warned that if New Zealand’s move came to a vote, Israel might close its embassy in Wellington in protest. Ambassador Curr noted this and reported it to his government, but when dawn came in New York Israel understood that things were still moving ahead.
Netanyahu’s phone call to McCully was almost his last attempt to prevent the vote, or at least to postpone it and buy a little time. Western diplomats say the conversation was harsh and very tense and Netanyahu let loose with sharp threats, perhaps unprecedented in relations between Israel and another Western country.
“This is a scandalous decision. I’m asking that you not support it and not promote it,” Netanyahu told McCully, according to the Western diplomats, who asked to remain unnamed due to the sensitivity of the matter. “If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences. We’ll recall our ambassador to Jerusalem.” McCully refused to back down from the vote. “This resolution conforms to our policy and we will move it forward,” he told Netanyahu.
Just one month earlier, when McCully visited Israel and met with Netanyahu, he found the latter an entirely different man. Netanyahu was pleasant, friendly and overflowing with warmth. He showed McCully the famous PowerPoint presentation that he had shown in a round of background briefings for the media last summer. Laser pointer in hand, Netanyahu told McCully that Israel was expanding its foreign relations, breaking through in the region and making friends in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The Western diplomats said that McCully, who over the past two years had been consistently pushing the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the UN Security Council, spoke with Netanyahu about the resolution his country wanted to promote. It was a much softer and more moderate version than the motion that passed last Friday. New Zealand’s resolution did talk about freezing construction in the settlements, but also about freezing Palestinian steps in the UN and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and called for direct negotiations without preconditions. (Haaretz)
UNSC Resolution 2334, demands that
“[Israel] immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem… [Israeli settlements] have no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
The US did not exercise its veto on behalf of Israel. The US abstained and the resolution was carried.
It is worth noting that a week or so prior to the UNSC vote, the head of Mossad Yossi Cohen (image left: courtesy Ynet News) was (unofficially) in Washington for consultations with the Trump team.
This high level meeting was an initative of Netanyahu. It was the object of US media coverage. The Israeli news report was dated December 17, The date of the “secret” meeting in Washington was not confirmed. One suspects that the head of Mossad Yossi Cohn met Donald Trump and members of his cabinet, although there was no confirmation by the Israeli media.
Following the UNSC resolution, Donald Trump criticized the United Nations Security Council resolution on Twitter. He also confirmed his intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
Trump also intimated that things would change with regard to Palestine after his inauguration on January 20th.
In turn, Netanyahu blamed Obama for not having exercised the veto power in the UNSC vote.
…Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, accused the Obama administration of orchestrating Friday’s U.N. vote behind the scenes, despite U.S. denials.
The diplomatic drama unfolded over the Christmas holiday, with twists and turns unusual even for the serpentine path followed by Netanyahu’s relationship with a Democratic president who opposes settlement building.
On Thursday, Netanyahu successfully lobbied Egypt, which proposed the draft resolution, to withdraw it — enlisting the help of President-elect Trump to persuade Cairo to drop the bid.
But the Israeli leader was ultimately outmaneuvered at the United Nations, where New Zealand, Venezuela, Senegal and Malaysia, resubmitted the proposal a day later.
It passed 14-0, with an abstention from the United States, withholding Washington’s traditional use of its veto to protect Israel at the world body in what was widely seen as a parting shot by Obama against Netanyahu and his settlement policy. (CNBC, December 26, 2016)
Michel Chossudovsky contributed to this report