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Israel halts $6 million to UN over settlements vote

January 7, 2017

Israel has slashed $6 million from funds for the UN to protest a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. It's the first of a series of expected retaliatory steps.

Symbolbild Israel genehmigt 464 Siedlung Häuser in West Bank
Image: Getty Images/AFP/T. Coex

Israel's UN Mission said the $6-million (5.6-million-euro) cut represented the portion of the UN budget allocated to "anti-Israel bodies."

"It is unreasonable for Israel to fund bodies that operate against us at the UN," Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon said. "The UN must end the absurd reality in which it supports bodies whose sole intent is to spread incitement and anti-Israel propaganda."

The bodies named by the mission included the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the Division for Palestinian Rights, the committee investigating Israeli practices affecting Palestinian human rights, and information programs on "the Question of Palestine."

The UN Security Council angered Israel last month when it adopted a long-sought resolution condemning Israeli settlements as "a flagrant violation under international law."

USA Treffen Benjamin Netanjahu & Barack Obama in New York
Netanyahu and Obama haven't always seen eye to eyeImage: Reuters/K. Lamarque

Israel responds

The resolution passed after the US broke from its usual practice of defending its Middle East ally and abstained from the vote rather than using its veto to block the measure.

Israel's decision to reduce its annual $40 million contribution to the UN is one of several steps it had said it would consider in the wake of the resolution. The mission also pledged to move forward with additional initiatives "aimed at encouraging structural change within the UN with the ultimate goal of ending anti-Israel activities" after Donald Trump becomes president of the United States on January 20.

While the US and Israel are close allies, relations between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have occasionally been strained.

Trump has chastised Obama's administration for abstaining from the Security Council vote. On Thursday, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bipartisan measure declaring unwavering support for Israel and condemning the UN stance on Jewish settlements.

nm/kl (AFP, AP)