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Trump slams U.N. as ‘good time’ club

The Associated Press

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks to members of the media at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Dec. 21.

The Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Days after the United Nations voted to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Donald Trump questioned its effectiveness Monday, saying it’s just a club for people to “have a good time.”

The president-elect wrote on Twitter that the U.N. has “such great potential,” but it has become “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”

On Friday, Trump warned, “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” referring to the day he takes office.

The decision by the Obama administration to abstain from Friday’s U.N. vote brushed aside Trump’s demands that the U.S. exercise its veto and provided a climax to years of icy relations with Israel’s leadership.

Trump told The Associated Press last December that he wanted to be “very neutral” on Israel-Palestinian issues. But his tone became decidedly more pro-Israel as the presidential campaign progressed. He has spoken disparagingly of Palestinians, saying they have been “taken over” by or are condoning militant groups.

Trump’s tweet Monday about the U.N. ignores much of the work that goes on in the 193-member global organization.

This year the U.N. Security Council has approved over 70 legally binding resolutions, including new sanctions on North Korea and measures tackling conflicts and authorizing the U.N.’s far-flung peacekeeping operations around the world. The General Assembly has also approved dozens of resolutions on issues, like the role of diamonds in fueling conflicts; condemned human rights abuses in Iran and North Korea; and authorized an investigation of alleged war crimes in Syria.

Controversial Israel pick

NEW YORK (AP) — If U.S. President-elect Donald Trump wanted to show he planned to obliterate President Barack Obama’s approach to Israel, he might have found his man to deliver that message in David Friedman, his pick for U.S. ambassador.

The bankruptcy lawyer and son of an Orthodox rabbi is everything Obama is not: a fervent supporter of Israeli settlements, opponent of Palestinian statehood and unrelenting defender of Israel’s government. So far to the right is Friedman that many Israel supporters worry he could push Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be more extreme, scuttling prospects for peace with Palestinians in the process.

The heated debate over Friedman’s selection is playing out just as fresh tensions erupt between the U.S. and Israel.

In a stunning decision Friday, the Obama administration moved to allow the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal. The move to abstain, rather than veto, defied years of U.S. tradition of shielding Israel from such resolutions, and elicited condemnation from Israel, lawmakers of both parties, and especially Trump.

Presidents of both parties have long called for a two-state solution that envisions eventual Palestinian statehood, and Netanyahu says he agrees. Friedman, who still must be confirmed by the Senate, does not. He’s called the two-state solution a mere “narrative” that must end.

Under Obama, the U.S. has worked closely with J Street, an Israel advocacy group sharply critical of Netanyahu. Friedman accuses Obama of “blatant anti-Semitism” and calls J Street “worse than kapos,” a reference to Jews who helped the Nazis imprison fellow Jews during the Holocaust.

For decades, the U.S. has opposed Israeli settlement-building in lands it seized in the 1967 Mideast war. Friedman runs a nonprofit that raises millions of dollars for Beit El, a settlement of religious nationalists near Ramallah. Beit El runs a right-wing news outlet and a yeshiva whose dean has provocatively urged Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to uproot settlers from their homes.Speech

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