News World Israel cuts millions in UN payments

Israel cuts millions in UN payments

A new housing unit in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Har Homa
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue developing settlements.
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Israel will withhold a substantial portion, about $A8.5million, of its annual contribution to the United Nations in protest at the international body’s recent condemnation of settlements built in occupied Palestinian territories, according to its UN ambassador.

“This amount represents the portion of the UN budget allocated to anti-Israel bodies. It is unreasonable for Israel to fund such entities,” wrote Danny Danon on his Twitter feed.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the decision on Saturday.

“The UN must end the absurd reality in which it supports bodies whose sole intent is to spread incitement and anti-Israel propaganda,” Mr Danon wrote.

Israel’s annual contribution to the UN budget stands at around $US40 million, according to Israeli media.

Resolution 2334, demanding a halt to Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, was passed by the Security Council on December 23 after a surprise US decision not to veto the proposal.

The resolution calls the Israeli settlements a violation of international law and an obstacle to implementing a two-state solution.

Mr Danon said that the suspension of Israel’s funding was “only the first in a series of steps under consideration by the Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Mission in reaction to the recent Security Council resolution.”

Such steps, he said, would be undertaken once the new US administration took office on January 20.

Israel is routinely criticised for expanding existing settlements or allowing devout settlers to claim land in the West Bank, which Palestinians hope will one day be the core of their own state.

However, any moves to formally upbraid Israel at the UN had, until December, been blocked by the US and its Security Council veto.

About 600,000 Israelis live in 125 settlements across the West Bank. Additionally, there are about 100 unauthorised settlements, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently trying to legalise with a new law before the parliament.

Since the resolution passed, Mr Netanyahu has been criticised for his aggressive response to the vote, which included accusing Washington of organising and advancing the resolution; recalling Israel’s ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand; summoning the ambassadors of all the UN Security Council states; and calling on ministers to curtail visits to the 14 nations that voted for the measure.