With a decision that will go down in US history as yet another example of the Obama administration’s shameful misunderstanding of the Middle East, which has not only led to immense massacres and unspeakable disasters in Syria, but also throughout the region, the outgoing president decided to overturn long-standing American policy that for decades has always defended Israel by vetoing anti-Israeli resolutions by the organization’s majority in the Security Council. This time in an unthinkable last ditch effort by Obama to define his “legacy,” the US abstained on a resolution that was passed by 14 votes to zero. The resolution states that it’s necessary to “distinguish between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967,”condemnsthe settlements by declaring them “illegal” and “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution” as well as adds a number of other considerations that are beyond all reality and historical sense.
The territories are not “illegal” but “disputed” according to UN Security Council Resolution 242 adopted in 1967. Moreover, international law hasn’t been violated because there were never any forced displacement of the original population and the territories were never Palestinian land, but Jordanian occupied land, and won through a defensive war. The heart of the matter, however, with regard to achieving an agreement on a two-state solution with the Palestinians has been their refusal to accept the State of Israel’s existence, which has led them to say “no” to generous proposals like those put forth by Barak and Olmert.
A resolution like the one voted upon on Friday doesn’t take into account the fact that there are some settlements that are essential to Israel’s security while others can be negotiable, and of course without this distinction there is non possibility of discussion and agreement. Why should the Palestinians accept less than what the UN is ready to give them? More troubling, however, is that this resolution allows for discrimination based on the Green Line, encourages the BDS movement and perhaps even sanctions. Furthermore, it promotes hatred and incitement against Jews, grants a crazy victory to the Palestinians despite their refusal to come to the negotiating table and to keep terrorism in check, and exalts Islamic extremism. The Egyptian-drafted resolution had been with drawnon Thursday at the request, it seems, of President-elect Trump; but the lame duck president personally advised, it’s said, his people to work behind the scenes to advance the motion, which resulted in it being immediately proposed again by Malaysia, Venezuela, New Zealand and Senegal.
From the beginning of his first term, Obama has demonstrated an aversion toward Israel, which was fueled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran, which was applauded by the US Congress. Yet Obama hasn’t care that Iran has violated the agreement, has become Putin’s best friend and fights with unprecedented brutality in Syria and all over the Middle East?
Obama has lacked any consistency in relation to any of his dealings with the Middle East on the whole. This has been illustrated through his personal and political esteem for the Muslim Brotherhood and his evident belief that his personal charm would have created peaceful relations with the Islamic world.
Moreover, his underestimation of terror and his hostility in relation to the only true defender of democracy in the Middle East, Israel, puts his final gesture on par not only with the UN’s adoption of a resolution in 1975 that stated “Zionism is racism”, but also with an international organization that has devoted two-thirds of its condemnations to this tiny nation while ignoring hundreds of thousands of deaths, refugees, and violations by others throughout its existence. Perhaps Obama is planning on becoming the next UN president, which would be a suitable role for him.
Today Israel celebrates Hanukah, which runs parallel with Christmas this year: let’s hope that men of good faith continue to be so despite Obama’s abandonment.
Translation by Amy K. Rosenthal
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (December 24, 2016)