- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 24, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office accused the Obama administration Friday evening of secretly conspiring against Israel after the U.S. abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution that condemned his country’s construction of settlements in Palestine as a “flagrant violation” of international law.

In sitting out Friday’s vote, the U.S. enabled the 14 other members of U.N. Security Council to unanimously approve a resolution calling for Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

“Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. and will not abide by its terms,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement afterwards.

“The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the U.N., it colluded with it behind the scenes,” the prime minister’s bureau said.

The resolution itself put before the U.N. by representatives from New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, and was opposed by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump prior to being approved Friday.

“We cannot stand in the way of this resolution as we seek to preserve a chance of attaining our longstanding objective of two states living side by side in peace and security,” said Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

The White House defended its decision to abstain from voting, notwithstanding arguments from Democrats and Republicans alike for failing to formally cast a ballot either way.

“We could not in good conscience veto a resolution that expressed concerns about the very trends that are eroding the foundation for a two-state solution,” said Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser.

“There is one president at a time,” Mr. Rhodes said Friday.

Indeed, Mr. Netanyahu’s office said in a statement issued after the Security Council’s vote that he hoped to achieve an about-face after Mr. Trump enters the White House in under a month.

“Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution,” the prime minister said.

“As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” Mr. Trump said from his Twitter account Friday.

The United States is widely regarded as Israel’s most important ally, and provides roughly $3 billion annually to the nation’s defense budget.

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