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Israel cuts $6m in UN funding over settlements resolution

Israeli ambassador to UN says it is 'unreasonable' for Israel to fund organisations that operate against it
Most countries and United Nations view Israeli West Bank settlements as illegal (AFP)

Israel said on Friday it would cut $6m in funding to the United Nations in 2017 in protest against a UN Security Council resolution that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The United States abstained from the 23 December vote, allowing the 15-member Security Council to adopt the resolution with 14 votes in favour. Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump had called for Washington to wield its veto.

Israel's mission to the UN said funding would be cut to UN bodies it described as "anti-Israel," including the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights.

"It is unreasonable for Israel to fund bodies that operate against us at the UN," Israeli U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement. "The UN must end the absurd reality in which it supports bodies whose sole intent is to spread incitement and anti-Israel propaganda."

The Israeli mission said it would move ahead with further initiatives aimed at ending what it described as anti-Israel activities at the UN after Trump takes office on 20 January.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Most countries and the UN view Israeli West Bank settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

Israel disputes that settlements are illegal and says their final status should be determined in any future talks on Palestinian statehood. The last round of US-led peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed in 2014.

The Security Council last adopted a resolution critical of settlements in 1979, with the US also abstaining.

Trump has said he plans to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a controversial move bitterly opposed by Palestinians as a unilateral action while the status of the city remains contested.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned the US president-elect against the move.