The war of words between outgoing President Barack Obama and Israel continued to escalate during the last days of December, when Israel's ambassador to the U.S. said Obama was being "outrageous" for allowing the United Nations to formally condemn settlements in Palestinian territories.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program that he had personally appealed to Obama administration officials not to abstain from the U.N. vote, which allowed the resolution condemning Israel to pass in the Security Council.
Dermer also said he warned American officials that if the U.S. allowed the resolution to pass, Israeli leaders would be forced to appeal to President-elect Donald Trump, whose rhetoric regarding Israel has been much more sympathetic to the Jewish state than Obama's, Politico reported.
Trump himself responded to the U.S. abstention as a "big loss" for Israel, and said the U.S. “cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect."
Tweeting "stay strong" to the Israelis, Trump said his Jan. 20 inauguration "is fast approaching," signaling he'd work to reverse Obama's recent maneuvering as soon as he takes office.
“I know a lot of the talk in the press for the first few days was how outrageous it was for a president-elect to weigh in and to breach this policy of one president at a time,” Dermer said on Dec. 29. “But what I actually think is outrageous for an outgoing administration in the waning days of its presidency is to radically shift U.S. policy without the knowledge or the support of the incoming administration.”
Obama's famously testy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has deteriorated even further during December, as Obama's administration stepped up its criticism of the Jewish state in addition to abstaining from the U.N. vote.
Netanyahu was reportedly enraged by the failure on the part of the U.S. to protect Israel in the Security Council, calling it a betrayal and accusing Obama of personally orchestrating and helping draft the language of the vote.
On Dec. 26, a defiant Netanyahu announced plans to go ahead with the construction of 600 new settlement homes, part of a larger settlement that's expected to include more than 5,000 homes built on land annexed from the Palestinian territories.
The U.N. resolution was a "declaration of war," the Israeli prime minister allegedly told New Zealand's foreign minister in a private conversation aimed at convincing the Oceanic country to vote against the U.N. resolution, the Independent reported.
Netanyahu described the Security Council vote as a "shameful ambush" and later said "friends do not take friends to the Security Council," chiding Obama for breaking more than 30 years of U.S. policy to protect Israel in the Security Council, where the U.S. has veto power.
Asked about Netanyahu's claim that he has "ironclad" proof that Obama orchestrated the Security Council vote, Dermer said the proof will be presented to Trump when he formally takes over as commander in chief, Politico reported.
“The prime minister doesn't make such a charge on international television without it being based 100 percent on evidence,” Dermer said. “So you'll have to be a little patient. Invite me back in a little while on your show.”