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Netanyahu said to curtail working ties with Security Council nations

PM orders cabinet members to minimize visits to countries, deny ambassadors access to Foreign Ministry

British Prime Minister Theresa May addresses a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, December 12, 2016 (Courtesy CFI)

December 26, 2016

In a further response to a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reportedly ordered the Foreign Ministry to suspend all working ties with 12 of the countries that voted in favor of the decision.

The move came after 10 ambassadors were summoned, at Netanyahu’s instruction, to the Foreign Ministry for an upbraiding over Friday’s vote.

Foreign ministers from the countries, all of which Israel has diplomatic ties with, will no longer be able to meet with Netanyahu — who is also foreign minister — or Foreign Ministry officials, Haaretz reported, citing a senior Israeli official.

In addition, travel by Israeli ministers to the countries will be kept to a minimum, an official said.

Of the 15 countries on the UN Security Council, 14 voted in favor of Resolution 2334, which demands a halt to all Israeli settlement activity, with one abstention, that of the US.

Activities involving the embassies of Britain, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Angola, Egypt, Uruguay, Spain, Senegal and New Zealand will be suspended, and the ambassadors of those countries will not be received at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, an official said.

However, the official noted that the suspension doesn’t apply to Israeli ambassadors in the 12 countries, who will be permitted to continue working with the governments of their host nations.

Earlier, a spokesman for the prime minister denied that he intends to cancel a meeting next month with British Prime Minister Theresa May in response to the resolution. No such meeting was ever scheduled, the spokesman said.

Israel’s Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu had been scheduled to meet with May at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos between January 17 and 20.

Netanyahu on Sunday summoned US Ambassador Dan Shapiro for a meeting for “clarifications” over Washington’s failure to use its veto.

Netanyahu, who has publicly accused US President Barack Obama of “ambushing” Israel at the UN with the “shameful” resolution, reportedly told colleagues earlier Sunday that the diplomatic tussle was not yet over. He now fears that the US will seek another vote at the UN to enshrine some of Secretary of State John Kerry’s suggested parameters for an accord, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported on Sunday evening. There was no immediate confirmation of that report.

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry to summon the ambassadors of the states that supported the anti-settlement resolution for a dressing-down. Ten envoys were called in on Christmas morning for scoldings from directors of the Foreign Ministry’s respective regional departments, spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said.

Senegal and New Zealand do not have embassies in Israel. Venezuela and Malaysia do not have diplomatic relations with Israel and so are not affected by Israel’s diplomatic response to the vote.

In the case of Great Britain and Spain, the deputy ambassadors were summoned because their respective bosses are currently not in the country.

Netanyahu also reiterated his vow to curtail funding to various UN agencies and to take “additional” measures to punish states that supported the resolution. He said he had ordered a report from the Foreign Ministry to be given to the cabinet within 30 days reassessing Israel’s entire relationship with the United Nations.