17:32 GMT01 March 2021
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    Israel continues to respond to the UN Security Council resolution demanding it stop building settlements in occupied Palestinian territories with a mix of defiance and conciliation.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he's formulating a plan to retaliate against the UN at a December 25 Cabinet meeting — but he also apparently instructed his party's lawmakers to tone down their settlement rhetoric until US President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month.

    President Barack Obama in the White House Press Briefing Room
    © AP Photo / Andrew Harnik

    On the other hand, other sources say the UN resolution is causing pro-settlement factions in Israel to push even further, bringing up a vote on a deeply controversial bill to officially legalize a number of outposts.

    "We will do all it takes so Israel emerges unscathed from this shameful decision," Netanyahu told his Cabinet, AP reports. He said he had asked the Foreign Ministry to prepare a "plan of action" against the UN, but offered no more details.

    Netanyahu has accused US President Barack Obama of secretly working with Israel's enemies to allow the vote to take place. The US abstained from the resolution but did not veto it, as it has similar resolutions in the past.

    "Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution," Netanyahu said in a statement after the resolution.

    However, the Times of Israel reports that Netanyahu doesn't want the belligerent stance to spread. Meeting with ministers of his Likud party before he met the Cabinet, he asked them to like low until Trump is inaugurated at the end of next month. Trump is seen as more accommodating to Israel than Obama and has called the resolution, which is largely symbolic, "shameful."

    "I say to the ministers, you need to act with insight, with responsibility and coolheadedness. That means both in action and in words," the prime minister said, the Ynet news website reports.

    "Don't come out now with statements about annexing territory and building in the settlements, because there may be another international move [against Israel] before the change in the US administration on January 20," he said, according to the Times of Israel.

    Israeli local media report that Netanyahu may be worried that as the Obama administration prepares to exit the White House, they may push for the UN to set parameters for a permanent Israeli-Palestinian accord.

    Other ministers, including members of Netanyahu's party, called openly for Israel to annex some parts of the West Bank following the Security Council decision. Despite the requests for calm, sources within Israel's Knesset tell the Times of Israel that a controversial bill previously shelved until Trump took office may be brought to a vote in the coming weeks in a show of defiance.

    The Regulation Bill, which would legalize 4,000 housing units in the West Bank built on private Palestinian land, could be voted on before the inauguration after all. The bill has been condemned by the US, the UN and the EU, and even Israel's attorney general.

    "We are done playing nice," a coalition government source told The Times of Israel December 24. "It's back on the table."

    Since the UN Security Council passed the resolution, Netanyahu has cancelled meetings with the leaders of the UK and Ukraine, recalled its ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand, and summoned a number of envoys to his office.

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    Tags:
    Israeli settlements, settlements, UN Security Council, UN, Knesset, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, East Jerusalem, West Bank, Israel
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