'Trump owes nothing to the Jewish community, he is a free agent' - Haaretz columnist
Tel Aviv's rage over a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to Israeli settlements in occupied territories has been reiterated by the country's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who says that Israel cannot and will not accept it.
Netanyahu also commented on the resolution: “I ask those same countries that today wished us happy Hanukkah, how did they vote on the decision at the UN which says that this place, where we are celebrating Hanukkah, is occupied territory?”
The resolution was able to pass after the US, Israel's close ally, abstained from the vote with 14 countries voting in favor.
Israel is now taking various steps to demonstrate its discontent summoning the envoys of countries that supported the resolution and threatening to freeze aid for UN bodies.
It may even be waiting for Donald Trump to enter the White House, where the bilateral situation may change.
RT: Summoning 14 ambassadors in one day is quite a message in the diplomatic world. But do you think such pressure will get Netanyahu where he wants to?
Gideon Levy: Netanyahu wants to give the message to the world that Israel will not agree to the resolution. But what really motivates Netanyahu is domestic politics and not international politics. He wants to show his people that he is still the strong leader that the world did not disappoint him, but he is going to disappoint the world, that he is going to show the world who is the strong one. He is playing as if he is the head of a superpower.
RT: What arguments do you think Netanyahu may have used in conversations with those ambassadors. What leverage does Israel have in this?
GL: I hope that the world will understand that the one to be accused here is Israel and Netanyahu. The world say the very clear word in the UNSC resolution, namely that their occupation is the issue. The settlements are the issue. And I am not sure that Mr. Netanyahu is in a position to teach the world a lesson. The world is teaching Israel a lesson. But this depends much on the individual states. I hope they will not get frightened by the prime minister of a rather small country whose policy the whole world is united in condemning.
RT: Netanyahu also summoned the US ambassador. What do you make of America-Israel relations?
GL: American-Israel relations are right now on hold because as you know in 20 days there is a new game and a new president in the White House. So, whatever happens now is in many ways irrelevant. And therefore Netanyahu can afford himself to play the game also with the Americans. But once Mr. Trump will be in the White House, there will be a different game. Nobody know what kind of a game it will be, but it will be a different game.
RT: America refused to veto the UN resolution on settlements. What signal is the Obama administration sending to Israel?
GL: I am not sure. I think it was aimed at Israel, aimed at the government. It was mainly aimed at the settlement project and the Israeli occupation and the fact that this was a window of opportunities between two administrations has a meaning, but Donald Trump is totally free to go for his own policy and I am sure that Donald Trump will in many ways ignore this resolution if he chooses to do so.
RT: Israel-US relations have certainly seen better times, while Trump has been open about his intentions to improve the situation. What obstacles will he have to overcome?
GL: There are no obstacles. It is first of all his choice to decide first of all how involved is he going to be, if at all. My feeling is that his priority will be domestic politics, but let’s see. And secondly what kind of path does he want to go. Does he want to continue to be the automatic ally of Israel and support Israel in anything. Will he support the occupation, will he support the settlements or he will be more reluctant or maybe he will be ready to take some measures against Israel. I am not sure that Mr. Trump knows the answers and for sure nobody else knows where does he go. Let’s remember that Donald Trump is an unexpected character and he doesn’t owe anything – not to the Jewish community, not to Israel, he is really a free agent. And time will show where he will take it.
RT: Do you think US reluctance to veto the UN resolution could in reality be a move against Trump to make his life harder when it comes to dealing with Israel?
GL: No, right now the resolution is only words, I don’t want to say empty words; it is not empty words, but it is just a piece of paper. I am sure that Israel will ignore it. It all depends now on two questions: First of all, what will be the American policy, that is a major key issue. Secondly, let’s not ignore the rest of the world. Is the rest of the world ready to move from talking to actions, namely to punish Israel for the occupation to take some sanctions against Israel. Or will it remain another resolution which will remain in the... history of the UN without any practical meaning. Only time will show where we go from here.
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