Israel’s ambassador to the United States said that the Obama administration taking no action to veto last week’s UN Security Council resolution on settlement construction was damaging, though “no action undermined Israel’s security as much as the Iranian nuclear deal.”
Ambassador Ron Dermer also took issue with Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that no administration has ever done more for Israel: “Not true… it depends on how you define that,” he told MSNBC, acknowledging that the Obama White House has been forthcoming with “military assistance, intelligence cooperation, security cooperation.”
“But, strategically, the Iran nuclear deal undermined Israel’s security in a dramatic way. And now, we have a UN Security Council resolution that essentially helps those who are waging a legal and diplomatic and economic war against Israel. It gives them ammunition,” Dermer said.
“And that’s why we were so disappointed in that. We appreciate everything that this president has done for Israel’s security, but there are many things that are done that undermine that security.”
Dermer characterized Kerry’s Wednesday address at the State Department as simply “a ‘blame Israel’ speech.”
“That speech went on for 72 minutes. And it was, basically, to excoriate Israel for being the problem with why we have not had peace with the Palestinians,” he said. “What I didn’t hear in those 72 minutes was the fact that a peace offer was given by an Israeli prime minister in 2000, a sweeping offer. That was rejected. It followed a wave of terrorism against Israel. I did not hear, in 2008, that another sweeping peace offer was given and rejected by the Palestinians.”
He noted that Kerry didn’t even mention the rain of rockets into Israeli territory that followed the 2005 pullout from Gaza, a withdrawal Israel undertook in the interest of furthering the peace process.
Dermer said the UN Security Council resolution “essentially shifted the goal post towards the Palestinians before we even get down to the negotiation table by saying, this is all your land. But why should they make peace with us if this is already their land?”
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told CNN on Wednesday that the administration is “not at all shrinking from the fact that when this came to a vote and we looked at the language, we decided to abstain.”
“We owned the fact that we abstained from this resolution because we believed that that was the right thing. So, we’re ready to defend our decision to abstain on that resolution,” Rhodes said. “I think it’s the Israeli government that is trying to have this distraction from the real debate, which is how are their settlement policies, including building deep in the West Bank, pursuing laws that would legalize outposts deep in the West Bank, displacing Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank, how is it consistent with the stated policy of pursuing a two-state solution?”
“…The reason that this is worth focusing on, these are not just housing settlements, these are construction that is taking place on Palestinian land, on what anybody who has looked at this issue understands to be a future Palestinian state.”
This story was updated at 5 p.m. EST