Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed concern President Barack Obama may take action Israel opposes at the United Nations before leaving office as US criticism of its settlement building intensifies.
Netanyahu’s statement late Wednesday comes after speculation Obama could break with recent US practice and support — or at least not veto — a UN Security Council resolution laying out parameters for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
There has also been speculation he could give a speech before leaving office in January that would do the same.
Israel fears such parameters would include elements it opposes, such as a timeframe for resolving the conflict and demands for action against settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu said that “in the past, presidents at the end of their terms had promoted initiatives which were not in accordance with Israel’s interests.”
“The prime minister added that he hoped this was not about to be repeated and that he expects the United States not to change what has historically been its policy for decades: to prevent anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council.”
Netanyahu’s office issued the statement in response to a report by Israel’s Channel 2 television.
The report quoted him as saying in a private meeting that “the entire settlement enterprise is in existential danger” during the interim period between the US presidential election and when Obama leaves office.
Netanyahu’s statement denied he had said that during the meeting with a group of Israeli settlers.
Earlier this month, Netanyahu spoke by telephone with US Secretary of State John Kerry in a bid to calm Washington`s anger over new Israeli settlement plans.
Settlements in the West Bank are viewed as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
The United States has warned that continued settlement building in the territory occupied by Israel in 1967 is eating away at the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict.
Settlements are a key political issue within Israel, with those in favour advocating that Jews must return to their biblical homeland, including the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s government is seen as the most right-wing in the country’s history and key members of his coalition openly oppose a Palestinian state.