On December 2, the Sunday after the United Nations General Assembly voted to accept Palestine as an observer state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his cabinet’s weekly meeting with defiance. Not only did he declare that “the government of Israel rejects the . . . decision,” he equated it with the infamous UN resolution of 1975 that labeled Zionism as racism.
On the surface, this was a gut reaction to superficially similar circumstances: Israel again found itself nearly alone in the UN, and Netanyahu wanted to show that it would not be moved by immutable hostility. In the same mood, he approved steps to build a Jewish neighborhood in the West Bank linking Jerusalem with the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim—a step that even Israel’s closest allies vehemently oppose.