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Netanyahu: UN Resolution Claims Western Wall Is ‘Occupied Territory’

TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed President Barack Obama for allowing the UN to “gang up” on Israel by passing a “disgraceful” UN resolution that labels the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City occupied territory.

“The resolution determines that the Jewish Quarter is occupied territory. It determines that the Western Wall, the Kotel, is occupied territory. There is no greater absurdity than that,” Netanyahu said Saturday evening at a Hannukah lighting ceremony for IDF soldiers and veterans and victims of terror.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) also attacked the Obama administration, saying, “The UN, whose chief [outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon] only recently admitted is an organization biased against Israel, made an absurd decision because of the lack of leadership the U.S. has demonstrated over the last few years.”

Edelstein added, “If the Western Wall and Ramot [in Jerusalem] are occupied territories, then the UN must determine that New York should be immediately returned to the Indians.”

Netanyahu said that the “distorted and disgraceful” resolution was “the last straw,” but vowed that Israel would “overcome” it and “reevaluate all of our ties to the UN within a month.”

The prime minister further announced that he had already cut nearly $8 million in funding for five UN institutions he deemed “particularly hostile” towards Israel.

Netanyahu also recalled the Israeli ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal, two of the countries that proposed Friday’s UN Security Council anti-settlement resolution along with Venezuela. He also cut all Israeli government aid to Senegal, saying, “Those who work with us will gain, because Israel has a lot to offer the nations of the world. But those who stand against us will lose, because there will be a diplomatic and economic price for their actions against Israel.”

The prime minister also canceled an official visit to Israel by Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman in protest of Ukraine’s vote in favor of the resolution.

Netanyahu decried Obama for reneging on his own past policies regarding anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.

“All of the U.S. presidents after [Jimmy] Carter met the American commitment not to try and dictate to Israel at the Security Council conditions for a final-status agreement. And yesterday, in complete contradiction to this commitment—including a specific commitment made by President Obama himself in 2011—the Obama administration carried out a disgraceful anti-Israel underhanded move at the UN.”

Netanyahu argued that “not only does the resolution not promote peace, it pushes it further away.”

Netanyahu said it was “absurd” that the Obama administration and UN Security Council chose to “harass the only democracy in the Middle East, the State of Israel” while “half a million people are being massacred in Syria, tens of thousands are slaughtered in Sudan and the entire Middle East is going up in flames.”

The prime minister also claimed that the U.S. had a direct hand in drafting the resolution and re-introducing it at the UN after a similar resolution presented by Egypt was shelved on Thursday.

“We have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated its versions and insisted upon its passage,” he said at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

He vowed to “cancel” this resolution “just as we rejected the [1975] UN resolution that equated Zionism with racism,” noting that “it took a while, but that decision was canceled. It’ll take time, but this decision will be canceled as well,” adding that the way to do so will not be through “concessions” but through Israel and its “allies standing firm.”

The prime minister announced that the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump said it would embark “on an all-out-war against this resolution.”

“I spoke to many American leaders yesterday. I was happy to hear from the American congressmen—Democrats and Republicans alike—that they will fight this resolution with all means at their disposal,” he said.

“My friends, we are entering a new era that, as President-elect Trump said yesterday, is coming much sooner than most think. In this new era, there will be a steep price to pay, a much steeper price to pay, for those who try to harm Israel. And this price will be exacted not just by the United States, but also by Israel.”

In an effort to find a silver lining, Netanyahu said the resolution may have the effect of improving ties with countries around the world who side with Israel.

“It recruits our many friends in the United States and elsewhere in the world who tire of the UN’s hostile treatment of Israel, and they plan to bring to a change at the UN,” Netanyahu said.

“Here on the eve of Hanukkah, I stand next to the modern-day Maccabees—IDF soldiers and wounded soldiers. I salute you and say this clearly: Light will banish the darkness. The spirit of the Maccabees will come out on top,” he concluded.

Departing from decades of U.S. policy regarding Israel at the UN – including, until now, the policy of the Obama administration itself – the U.S. decided to forego its automatic veto and abstained from voting on the resolution. The resolution declares all settlements illegal under international law and demands that Israel immediately cease construction in eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and other territories captured in the 1967 defensive war.

Earlier in the day, an Israeli official said that Washington’s decision to abstain “was President Obama’s final ploy. This is an act that exposed the administration’s true face.”

“Now it is easier to understand what we’ve been dealing with over the past eight years,” the official continued. “This move was expected. Prime Minister Netanyahu warned it might come. There were also discussions in the cabinet about it.”

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz slammed Obama for “abandoning” Israel “to the anti-Israeli trend in the UN.”

“This wasn’t an anti-settlement resolution, it was an anti-Israel resolution,” Steinitz told Israeli news site Ynet.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) also condemned the Obama administration for being “cowardly.”

“This is a very pathetic move. The Obama administration had a lot of time and many years to influence Israel, and hurting Israel like that in [the administration’s] last month is a cowardly act in my opinion,” she said.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said the resolution was the direct result of the “Oslo policy of concessions and withdrawals.” He called for Israel to apply Israeli law and full sovereignty over the main West Bank settlements.

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