President Barack Obama’s decision to allow passage of a scandalously anti-Israel and anti-peace resolution in the United Nations Security Council is a fitting end to his presidency, which has been a disaster not just for Israel, but for the Palestinians as well.
Resolution 2334 says that Israel has no legitimate right to any territory that was not in its possession prior to June 4, 1967. That includes the Kosel, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Yerushalayim, Gilo, Ramat Eshkol, Ramot, Pisgat Ze’ev, among others. Not only is the resolution a capitulation to the Palestinian “narrative,” which flies in the face of historical fact, it turns hundreds of thousands of people into criminals.
Think I’m exaggerating? Read the text. The Security Council condemns “all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem … [as being] in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions.”
The resolution doesn’t include sanctions, but its very passage gives a boost to the BDS movement and paves the way for criminal cases to be brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In a worst-case scenario, hundreds of thousands of Jews — in Beitar Illit, Modiin Illit, Maale Adumim and much of Yerushalayim — would be unable to travel abroad for fear of being arrested on charges of violating “international humanitarian law.”
The rationale behind the decision not to veto the resolution, to judge from Secretary of State John Kerry’s long, rambling speech last Wednesday, is to force Israel to accept the two-state solution, which the administration views as the only way to ensure that the country remains both Jewish and democratic. In other words, “We’re doing it for your own good.” Tough love.
The problem is that it will have the exact opposite effect. If the two-state solution was in intensive care before the U.N. resolution was passed, it’s comatose now — for several reasons.
One, it denies reality. No one is going to move 450,000 people from their homes so that Palestinian Arabs — who didn’t even exist before the early 1960s — can have a state on land that the United Nations says is theirs. The only thing the resolution does is raise false hopes, which can turn into frustration and violence.
Two, it attempts to bypass direct negotiations between the parties. The resolution “urges … intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions.”
No one in Israel, not even the most extreme left-winger, would trust the fate of the country to the United Nations. No one would accept an agreement hammered out in France by the Europeans, who only first grasped the problem of terrorism when it reached their backyard.
Three, and most importantly, the Palestinians have no reason to compromise, which is obviously crucial in reaching any kind of solution. The United Nations Security Council has ruled in their favor. Israel’s presence in all pre-June 1967 lands is illegitimate. So what right does Israel have to demand security concessions? What right does it have to demand that the Palestinians stop paying salaries to jailed terrorists who’ve killed Jews (and the more Jews killed, the higher the salary)? What right does it have to demand that the Palestinians stop glorifying terror by naming city squares after mass murderers? What right does it have to put limits on the armed forces of a sovereign Palestinian state? And what rights does it have to force PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state?
In the give-and-take of negotiations, Israel has nothing to give, other than the land that the international community has ruled is not its to give.
And if the Palestinians refuse to budge, which is the inevitable outcome of this resolution, there will be no two-state solution. Israelis have already created one Palestinian state, in Gaza, and say “no thank you” to another.
When Obama took office, he bent over backwards to the Muslim world in an attempt to redress what he considered as Washington’s overly pro-Israel stance. His maiden presidential tour abroad took him to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but not to Israel. His speeches were deferential to Islam, never mentioning radical Islam and its connection to terrorism.
Most importantly, he threw out the April 14, 2004 letter of understanding by President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon recognizing that “in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final-status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final-status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”
Bush was realistic and forced the Palestinians to be realistic. His letter provided a basis for negotiations. Obama, by equating Jewish building in Yerushalayim neighborhoods like Ramat Shlomo or Gilo with building in isolated settlement outposts with a dozen caravans, created unnecessary tensions with Israel and raised unrealistic hopes among the Palestinians.
Some argue that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu brought this debacle on himself by refusing to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians, thereby frustrating the Obama administration to no end. Kerry, in his diatribe last Wednesday, which made frequent references to settlements as the ultimate evil and made only passing reference to terrorism, pointed out that Israel has the most right-wing coalition ever. (Even British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose country voted for the resolution, rejected Kerry’s obsession with settlements and his attack on “the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.”)
It takes a truly skewed mind to blame Netanyahu for the failed peace talks. He froze all settlement construction for 10 months and freed scores of mass murderers, in a vain effort to get Abbas to return and remain at the negotiating table.
He continues to implore all the foreign leaders he meets with to speak to Abbas and urge him to enter into direct negotiations, with no preconditions.
Abbas, on the other hand, is a serial peace refusenik who has rejected unprecedentedly generous offers from Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert.
Obama and Kerry have every right to be frustrated at the mess they’re leaving behind in the Middle East, but they have only themselves to blame. When Egypt was experiencing its revolution in 2011, all of Obama’s top security advisers urged him not to abandon Hosni Mubarak, a long-standing friend of the West, who had played a critical role in maintaining stability in Egypt. Obama decided that he knew better, and millions of Egyptians are paying the price as a result.
The post-Obama Middle East includes hundreds of thousands dead in war-torn Syria, and a stronger Iran that is poised to continue exporting terror and that is guaranteed to become a nuclear-threshold state, with the West’s blessings.
Instead of taking responsibility for their follies, instead of pointing the finger of blame at the Middle Eastern tyrants who commit mass murder, Obama and Kerry have used their swan song at the United Nations to get even with the only democracy in the region and to brand hundreds of thousands of Israelis as being “in violation of international humanitarian law.”
Finally, Obama’s decision not to veto the blasphemous U.N. resolution was not only a betrayal of Israel, but a devious attempt to tie the hands of the incoming Trump administration.
Fair play says that every administration should have the opportunity to implement its own foreign policy. There is every indication that President-elect Donald Trump and his team have a very different view of the Palestinian conflict, that they do not accept the view that Israel has no legitimate claim to the Kosel.
Security Council Resolution 2334 was Obama’s parting ‘gift’ to Israel, which will now have to figure out how to mitigate its dangers, and advance the goal of lasting peace in the Middle East.