US President-elect Donald Trump has created yet more diplomatic shockwaves with a pair of tweets in which he urged the nation of Israel to "stay strong" until his inauguration on 20 January.
The remarks came in the wake of the Obama administration's refusal to veto a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, prompting a furious response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump's latest Twitter declaration came less than two hours before Secretary of State John Kerry was due to give a speech outlining the road map for peace between Israel and Palestine. He was also expected to rebuff Netanyahu's view that the US orchestrated the vote to humiliate Israel.
Kerry was due to speak at 4pm GMT. At 2.19pm Trump tweeted: "We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!"
The UN resolution asserted that the 140 or so Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, where 600,000 Israelis live, have "no legal validity" and constitute a "flagrant violation of international law". It went on to describe the settlements as "a major obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution".
The US abstained from the vote but Netanyahu was riled that they did not use their veto to block its assent. He has been at loggerheads with outgoing president Obama for much of the last eight years and the two are widely believed to personally dislike each other.
He told his cabinet: "From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed."
Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the US, has vowed to share this information with Trump once the latter is in office. He reportedly said: "It's an old story that the United Nations gangs up on Israel. What is new is that the United States did not stand up and oppose that gang-up. And what is outrageous is that the United States was actually behind that gang-up."
Israel was today reported to have suspended ties with the embassies of the 12 UN Security Council members. The report was swiftly denied.