Israel backs off

Israel has wound back their rhetoric after condemning New Zealand’s involvement in the UN vote against Israeli settlements, which included publicising a phone call in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully that a vote against Israel would be a declaration of war.

Following the Security Council vote, in which no country supported Israel (it passed 14-0, with the United States abstaining), the Israeli government withdrew its ambassador and barred New Zealand’s ambassador from Israel.

Israel also threatened sanctions against countries including New Zealand who had sanctioned the UN resolution. But they are now saying no sanctions will be imposed “until further notice”.

Stuff: Israel pauses further sanctions on New Zealand ‘until further notice’

Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand Itzhak Gerberg will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to discuss whether further sanctions against NZ are appropriate.

“My ambassador has just arrived in Israel today. He will have a meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow, so until further notice there are no further sanctions,” said Patricia Deen, spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in Wellington.

This appears to be a winding back of posturing by Israel. Yesterday:

Netanyahu personally phoned Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully before the vote, his office has confirmed.

Israeli publication Haaretzciting unnamed western diplomats, described a “harsh” phone call between the pair.

“This is a scandalous decision. I’m asking that you not support it and not promote it,” Netanyahu reportedly told McCully.

“If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences.”

This was an own goal by Israel. It may have been aimed at appearing to be tough in Israel, but it was always likely to lose rather than gain support internationally, and certainly in New Zealand.

Israel’s arguments in New Zealand were further damaged by being promoted by Whale Oil, not a good way to win popular support here.

Deen said the phone call had been “blown out of proportion” but didn’t want to comment on it in detail.

If Netenyahu hadn’t  leaked the details of the phone call the adverse reaction wouldn’t have happened.

Netanyahu is furious with the decision. He has halted aid to Senegal and said “friends don’t take friends to the Security Council”.

The US were fed up with Israel’s continued flaunting of attempts to dampen disquiet over the settlements and refused to veto the vote.

Will Netenyahu halt US aid to Israel?

Reuters: U.S., Israel sign $38 billion military aid package

The United States will give Israel $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, the largest such aid package in U.S. history, under a landmark agreement signed on Wednesday.

Nearly 10 months of drawn-out aid negotiations underscored continuing friction between President Barack Obama and Netanyahu over last year’s U.S.-led nuclear deal with Israel’s arch-foe Iran, an accord the Israeli leader opposed. The United States and Israel have also been at odds over the Palestinians.

The settlements have been one point of contention there.

But the right-wing Netanyahu decided it would be best to forge a new arrangement with Obama, who leaves office in January, rather than hoping for better terms from the next U.S. administration, according to officials on both sides.

So it looks like Netanyahu gambled on Clinton winning the election.

Israel won’t win international support if they publicise threats against smaller countries, and threaten and impose sanctions, while they accept huge amounts of aid from the US who also enabled the UN resolution to pass.

I can imagine the US won’t have been impressed with Israel’s publicising of Netenyahu’s ‘declaration of war’ phone call.

 

Israel threatened vote was ‘declaration of war’

It’s being reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally phoned Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully prior to the Security Council vote on the resolution against Israeli settlements warning that a New Zealand vote would be a “declaration of war”.

That’s an over the top and disturbing threat.

Stuff: Israel warned New Zealand that UN resolution was ‘declaration of war’ – report

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu personally phoned Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully to warn him a UN resolution New Zealand co-sponsored was a “declaration of war,” according to a report.

Israeli publication Haaretzciting unnamed western diplomats, reported that a “harsh” phone call took place between the Israeli Prime Minister and McCully on the day of the vote.

“This is a scandalous decision. I’m asking that you not support it and not promote it,” Netanyahu reportedly told McCully.

“If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences.”

McCully reportedly refused to back down, according to Haaretz, telling Netanyahu the resolution was consistent with New Zealand policy on the dispute.

McCully’s office have confirmed to Stuff that a phone call between the Minister and Netanyahu took place just before the vote. They refused to publicly comment on the content of the conversation.

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs shouldn’t comment on conversations with Prime Ministers.

It seems very inappropriate that Israel, presumably the Prime Minister’s office, should be leaking conversations like this to media.

Earlier this week McCully publicly said that Israel shouldn’t be surprised by New Zealand’s position.

New Zealand has used its time on the Security Council to consistently called for a halt to settlements.

I wonder if Israel will declare war against the UK, Russia, France and China for voting for the resolution.