Netanyahu supports US House vote on settlements
JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday welcomed the US House of Representatives' condemnation of a UN reprimand of Israel's settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.
"After the outrageous anti-Israel resolution at the UN, the US House of Representatives voted (Thursday) resoundingly to support Israel and reject this one-sided resolution," Netanyahu said in a statement.
Last month's landmark resolution in the United Nations Security Council demanded that "Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem."
The Council also stated that the settlements have "no legal validity" and are "dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution."
In a rare and telling gesture the United States did not use its veto and instead abstained, enabling the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.
Thursday's congressional measure passed 342 to 80, with broad bipartisan support. It noted in particular that the US administration's refusal to veto the controversial Security Council measure "undermined" Washington's decades-long position of opposing anti-Israel action at the United Nations.
Incensed US lawmakers -- and President-elect Donald Trump -- have assailed Barack Obama's outgoing administration for abstaining in the December 23 vote, essentially clearing the way for its passage.
The House measure, which is non-binding, calls for the UN resolution "to be repealed or fundamentally altered so that... it is no longer one-sided and anti-Israel" and allows all final status issues toward a two-state solution to be resolved through direct bilateral negotiation.
Ahead of Trump's January 20 inauguration, the Obama administration's UN abstention was a fresh bone of contention after years of friction between the outgoing president and Netanyahu, who hinted that Obama was out of step with his country.
"I want to thank the US House of Representatives which reflects the tremendous support Israel enjoys among the American people," he said.