The United States vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution that would have condemned Israel for its “settlements” in the disputed territories of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem.
The vote followed a week of scrambling where the US tried to substitute a toned down vote to be issued not as a resolution but as a weaker “President’s Statement.” It would have objected to any non-negotiated change in status, a slap at the Palestinian goal of a unilateral statehood, and it would have also condemned “all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza.”
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas objected to this change and insisted the original resolution be offered up for vote. The outcome: 14 to 1 to condemn Israel. Immediately after her veto, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice launched into speech, agreeing with the vetoed resolution:
“While we agree with our fellow Council members and indeed with the wider world about the folly and the illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians… We therefore, regrettably, have opposed this draft resolution.”
Translation: “We really wanted to vote for this, but our donations from the Jewish community are down and we have to run for re-election in less than two years.”
There was no mention of terrorism or non-negotiated change of status. Nor was there any mention of the Palestinian refusal to negotiate. They are biding their time till the spring when they plan to fight in the same venue for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian Statehood.
It was the Obama administration’s naiveté that made the “settlements” a major issue to begin with. While the Palestinians have always objected to the building, the issue never before disrupted talks. On the other hand, based on agreements it made with the United States during the Bush Administration, Israel had understood not to build new communities (except in Jerusalem) but would continue to expand existing ones to account for natural growth.
What Obama and his advisers perceived as a minor concession was for Israel a grave sacrifice. From the Israeli point of view the president was telling Israeli parents that their children could no longer purchase homes near them. Worse yet, Obama included East Jerusalem in his demands.
Obama, through Secretary of State Clinton, said there was never an agreement between Israel and the US about natural expansion of existing settlements. Elliot Abrams who negotiated the agreement for the United States says that Obama’s contention is simply not true. (“Hillary Is Wrong About the Settlements,” Wall Street Journal, 6/26/2009)
Seizing the opportunity to avoid talks, the Palestinians used Obama’s demands to make a settlement freeze their precondition to further talks, even though there were ongoing construction projects concurrent to the negotiations which occurred during the Bush administration.
In August 2009 Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a one-time 10-month freeze. The Palestinians wasted the first nine months of the freeze and did not come to the negotiation table till September 2010, three weeks before the freeze ended. Not once did the Obama administration question the Palestinian Authority’s refusal talk for the first nine months of the freeze.
The mostly Democratic New York congressional delegation has been strangely silent in criticizing Obama’s passive-aggressive treatment of Israel. Some of them will sign non-binding letters of support for Israel. With the exception of Anthony Weiner and Republican Peter King, not one has stood up and criticized Obama for his unfair treatment of the Jewish State. (Senator Schumer criticized the President on a Jewish radio show, but when asked about his statement by the mainstream press, he backed off.)
Congressmen Steve Israel of Long Island agreed to lend his name to J Street, at the urging of the President, giving the group some “street cred” in the pro-Israel community. Steve Israel was rewarded for following Obama’s policy regarding the Jewish State with a high-profile party position, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2012 election cycle, which will make Israel the fifth highest ranking Democrat in the leadership.
The United States’ passive-aggressive vote indeed angered the Arab world and simultaneously increased mistrust by supporters of Israel. Ultimately the US veto and Ambassador Rice’s words admonished Israel for a problem that the President created.
I shudder to think what that vote would have been if Obama’s approval ratings were higher or if it occurred during a second Barack Obama administration.
Jeff Dunetz is the Editor/Publisher of the political blog “The Lid” (www.jeffdunetz.com). Jeff contributes to some of the largest political sites on the internet including American Thinker, Big Government, Big Journalism, NewsReal and Pajama’s Media, and has been a guest on national radio shows including G. Gordon Liddy, Tammy Bruce and Glenn Beck. Jeff lives in Long Island.