"I have an obligation to do what I think is right," outgoing US President Barack Obama told Israel's Channel 2 news of his country's abstention on a vote at the UN Security Council which condemned Israeli settlements, in an interview to be aired Tuesday.
Speaking with Channel 2's Ilana Dayan at the White House, the president who has ten days left in office, responded to accusations from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials that he had "stabbed Israel in the back," and that the US had "colluded with the Palestinians" over the resolution.
"I think- I'll be honest with you- that kind of hyperbole, those kinds of statements don’t have basis in fact," Obama said in an interview excerpt. "They may have worked well to deflect attention from settlements, they may play well with Bibi's [Netanyahu's] political base as well as with the republican political base here in the United States, but they don’t match up with the facts."
UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which states that Israeli settlements have "no legal validity" and are "dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution", was passed last month by a 14-0 vote after a rare and momentous abstention by the United States.
After the resolution passed, Netanyahu hit out furiously at Obama, saying that the decision to withhold the veto at the UN Security Council was an "shameful, underhanded maneuver" by a hostile lame duck administration.
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer in an interview with CNN called it "a sad day and a shameful chapter in US-Israeli relations."
Dermer went on to accuse the Obama administration of helping Palestinians "wage a diplomatic and legal war against Israel."
On January 20th, President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the next leader of the United States.
Trump has urged Israel to "stay strong" until his inauguration, saying that "[w]e cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect."
Earlier this month the US House of Representatives voted to condemn the resolution, blasting last month's move by the international body as "an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace."
The 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.
The full interview will be aired Tuesday on Channel 2.