Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country will re-assess its ties with the United Nations, after the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian territory.
The resolution was able to pass after the United States chose not to use its veto.
“I instructed the Foreign Ministry to complete within a month a re-evaluation of all our contacts with the United Nations, including the Israeli funding of UN institutions and the presence of UN representatives in Israel,” Netanyahu said on Saturday, a day after the vote.
“I have already instructed to stop about 30 million shekels ($7.8 million) in funding to five UN institutions, five bodies, that are especially hostile to Israel … and there is more to come,” he said.
The Israeli leader did not name the institutions or offer any further details.
On the ground for Israelis and Palestinians, the vote has stirred strong feelings.
“The UN’s resolution? I think the UN never represented the state of Israel,” said Shlomo Levi, a resident of the Har Homa settlement in East Jerusalem.
“It was always against it. We will continue, as always, to do what we see as right, for the benefit of the state of Israel and for the benefit of the people of Israel.”
Not surprisingly, reactions are different on the Palestinian side although hopes of change are tempered by fears the resolution will only have symbolic value.
“Nothing will change,” said Khalil Jemzawi, a resident of Ramallah in the West Bank.
“It is all just politics and talk. Hopefully this step will be good for our people. However, we did not expect this vote. Hopefully it won’t only be politics, talk and pen on paper. We want it to be implemented on the ground.”
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat hailed the resolution on what he called “a day of hope, a day of peace”.
“We hope that this clear message to the Israeli people is that they must accept the international community’s call to stop settlement activity, to stop the occupation,” he said.
Friday’s resolution was passed by the 15-member council with 14 votes in favour and one abstention, that of the United States.
Barack Obama defied pressure from long-time US ally Israel and President-elect Donald Trump for Washington to wield its veto.
While the vote sends a strong signal, it does indeed change nothing on the ground and likely will be all but ignored by the incoming Trump administration.
Due to be sworn into office on January 20, Trump wrote on Twitter after the vote, “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th”.