Israel News for December 26, 2016

UN Vote
On Friday the UN Security Council voted 14-0 to condemn Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. The resolution, which was withdrawn by Egypt after pressure from Israel and Donal Trump, was reintroduced by Venezuela, New Zealand, Malaysia and Senegal. In an unprecedented move, the US did not use its veto power, allowing the resolution to pass. Israel had feared the Obama would take action against Israel in the UN in his final days in office, and this is exactly what happened.

Senior Republican leaders lashed out at Obama’s decision to abstain from the vote. Donald Trump vowed that things would be much different after he takes office.

Ambassador Samantha Power explained the administration’s vote this way: “Today, the Security Council reaffirmed its established consensus that settlements have no legal validity…. President Obama and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly warned – publicly and privately – that the absence of progress toward peace and continued settlement expansion was going to put the two-state solution at risk, and threaten Israel’s stated objective to remain both a Jewish State and a democracy … This resolution reflects trends that will permanently destroy the hope of a two-state solution if they continue on their current course.”

But while the Obama administrations claims that it was just voicing its opposition to the building of new settlements, the reality is much different.

According to the text of the resolution, “any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” 

That means that everything built in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall plaza, is illegal. It also means that all the Jewish neighborhoods located in “East” Jerusalem, and the roads leading to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, are illegal.

Did Obama not fully understand the contents of the resolution, or does he truly believe that Israel has no right to any property located over the “Green Line”, including the Western Wall (which is clearly over the line)?

PM Netanyahu remarked, “Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments have disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue. As I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.”

Apparently the Obama administration wasn’t such a friend after all. Quite a goodbye gift from the outgoing president. Best of luck to you too.

For further reading click here.

Israel Reacts
In the wake of the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, Israel has taken action against the UN and the countries that voted against her.

Israel will cut its $8 million of funding to the UN and also work to cancel appointments of anti-Israel UN officials and impede the functioning of UN relief agencies operating in the West Bank and Gaza who are anti-Israel. Israel is hoping that the Trump administration and its new pro-Israel UN ambassador Nikki Haley will help facilitate its moves.

PM Netanyahu also summoned the ambassadors of the 14 countries who voted for the resolution for a “talking to” and ordered Israeli officials not to hold meetings with representatives of those countries, including England, France, Spain, Japan and Russia.

For further reading click here.

Special Rep
Donald Trump has appointed Jason Greenblatt, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, as special representative for international negotiations, with a focus on Israel-Palestinian peace talks, trade agreements and the diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba.

Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew and Yeshiva University graduate, has said that he believes in a two-state solution as long as it is reached through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and not imposed by the UN or any other foreign element. He also firmly believes that settlements are not an obstacle to peace.

While Greenblatt admits that he has no professional foreign policy experience, that doesn’t seem to bother him or Trump. Judging by the development in the peace process over the last 20 years, it doesn’t seem as though the experienced diplomats have done such a great job. Perhaps the lawyers and businessmen can do better? The next US presidents is doubling down on that belief.

Greenblatt is expected to start shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah soon after the inauguration to try and restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

A Teaneck resident and father of six, Greenblatt visits Israel often with his family and has even written several Israel travel guides. Greenblatt is also a loyal reader of this daily email newsletter. We wish him the best of luck in his new position and are confident that he will apply his staunch support for Israel and his negotiation skills to achieve great things.

For further reading click here.,7340,L-4898600,00.html

Rebbe Lights
If you need some inspiration when saying the blessings over your Hanukkah menorah, this might help. To watch how the Rachmastivka rebbe does it, click here.