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Trump says UN Israel vote to make peace talks 'much harder'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects resolution as 'shameful blow against Israel at the United Nations'
US President-elect Donald Trump (AFP/file photo)

US President-elect Donald Trump said on Saturday that the UN vote demanding Israel halt settlements in Palestinian territory would make a peace deal "much harder," but said it could happen anyway.

"The big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace. Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!" Trump said in a message on Twitter.

The UN vote on Friday marked a stark turnabout in longstanding US custom at the world body.

The Security Council passed the measure after the US abstained, enabling the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.

By deciding not to veto the move, the US took a rare step that deeply angered Israel, which accused President Barack Obama of abandoning its closest Middle East ally in the waning days of his administration.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the resolution as a "shameful blow against Israel at the United Nations".

"It will take time, but this decision will be annulled," he said at a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony broadcast by Israeli television. 

He said Obama had broken a long-standing US commitment not to "dictate the terms of peace to Israel" at the UN body.

Netanyahu added he had given Israel's foreign minister a month to review "all Israel's engagements at the UN, including Israeli funding for UN agencies and the presence in Israel of UN representatives".

"I instructed the Foreign Ministry to complete within a month a re-evaluation of all our contacts with the United Nations, including the Israeli funding of UN institutions and the presence of UN representatives in Israel," Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks.

"I have already instructed to stop about 30 million shekels [$7.8m] in funding to five UN institutions, five bodies, that are especially hostile to Israel ... and there is more to come," he said.

The Israeli leader did not identify the institutions or offer any further details.

Trump foundation

Meanwhile, Trump on Saturday also said he intends to dissolve his controversial philanthropic foundation to avoid any conflicts of interest with his presidency.

Trump's sprawling portfolio of US and overseas business interests and holdings, as well as his Donald J Trump Foundation, have come under increased scrutiny in the weeks since his election.

"The foundation has done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children," Trump said in a statement announcing the move. 

"However, to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as president, I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways."

Trump's transition team said he had directed his counsel to take the necessary steps to close the foundation.