I won’t let us be spit on,’ PM vows in wake of UN resolution
Following the United Nations Security Council vote against Israel on Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toughened the Israeli response against countries that supported Resolution 2334. In closed-door meetings on Sunday, Netanyahu said, “Israel is strong, and I won’t let us be spit on. We will respond forcefully.”
As part of Israel’s response to the Security Council’s decision, Netanyahu intends to work with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and senior officials in his incoming administration to exact an economic and diplomatic price from the countries that voted in favor of the resolution.
In further retaliation against the Security Council resolution, which states that the Western Wall is “occupied territory,” the prime minister lit the second Hanukkah candle at the Western Wall plaza Sunday evening. Netanyahu was joined by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau.
“I didn’t plan on being here this evening,” Netanyahu said to begin the candlelighting ceremony, “but in light of the U.N. decision I thought there was no better place to light the Hanukkah candle than right here, the Western Wall. According to the U.N. decision, the Maccabees did not liberate Jerusalem, they conquered Palestinian territory. According to the U.N. decision, their villages, from the area of Modiin and its surroundings, were occupied Palestinian territory. Of course, the Palestinians came much later, and I ask those countries who wish us a ‘happy Hanukkah,’ how could they vote for a U.N. resolution that says the place we now stand and celebrate Hanukkah is occupied territory?
“The Western Wall is not occupied, the Jewish Quarter [of the Old City of Jerusalem] is not occupied, and the other places are not occupied either. Therefore, we do not and cannot accept this resolution. We are certain of our future, just as we know our past, and for this reason I ask to light a Hanukkah candle for the eternity of Israel.”
At the onset of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday morning, Netanyahu said, “We will do everything we have to so that Israel isn’t harmed by this shameful resolution. I asked the Foreign Ministry to prepare a plan of action against the U.N. and other international bodies, and it will be presented to the cabinet within a month. I share the feelings of anger and frustration with the members of the government over the unbalanced and extremely hostile resolution against Israel, which was passed in an unbecoming manner by the Security Council. From the information in our possession, there is no doubt the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated drafts and demanded that it be passed. All of this, of course, in complete contradiction to traditional American policy of not forcing final-status conditions [on Israel], or any issue pertaining to them in the Security Council, and of course President Obama’s explicit promise in 2011 to refrain from such measures.”
The prime minister added that “for decades there has been disagreement between U.S. administrations and Israel on the issue of settlements. With that, we always agreed that the Security Council is not the place to resolve this matter. We knew that going there will make negotiations more difficult and drive peace further away, and as I told [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council. I am encouraged by statements from our friends in the U.S., Republicans and Democrats alike, who understand that this U.N. resolution is irresponsible and destructive, and that the Western Wall is not occupied territory. I look forward to working with these friends and the new administration, when it enters office next month.”
As part of the country’s efforts to counter the U.N. resolution, the government has canceled an upcoming visit by Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, canceled Israeli funding to the U.N. and has recalled its ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal for consultations. Additionally, the prime minister summoned U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro for a reprimand meeting, in which he clarified Israel’s unwavering position vis-a-vis the American initiative. Throughout the day Sunday, the Foreign Ministry summoned ambassadors from other Security Council member countries — which also supported the resolution — for similar discussions. The prime minister also instructed ministers to refrain from visiting countries that voted against Israel.
Concerns over more initiatives
Officials in Israel are still concerned that Obama has another anti-Israel initiative in store, just ahead of his departure from the White House.
Among the scenarios for which Israel is preparing: a hostile American move involving the peace summit in Paris, scheduled to take place January 15, a mere five days before the changing of the guard in Washington. Israel has already declared its opposition to the summit.
Another possibility being discussed in government circles is a second anti-Israel initiative in the Security Council, spearheaded by the U.S. In light of the recent developments, the Israeli delegation at the U.N. is preparing for the possibility of another diplomatic blow.
Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, addressed the countries that supported the Resolution 2334: “Who gave you the right to condemn the Jewish nation for building homes in its eternal capital? Would this council have dared question your right to build in Paris? Moscow? Beijing? London? Washington? The efforts to harm Israel via the U.N. will not advance any solution; our neighbors will not achieve a thing until they stop the incitement and terror and return to direct negotiations.”
Meanwhile, senior Palestinian Authority officials said the PA intends to demand that a public investigation against the settlements be launched by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, along with an immediate boycott on Israeli products and goods.
“The Security Council resolution has opened a variety of possibilities for us on the diplomatic front against Israel,” a senior PA official said. (Israel Hayom)
Israel accuses Obama of anti-Israeli ‘shameful move’ at UN
An Israeli official on Friday accused President Barack Obama of colluding with the Palestinians in a “shameful move against Israel at the U.N.” after learning the White House did not intend to veto a Security Council resolution condemning settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem the day before.
“President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.,” the official said. “The U.S administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tail wind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory,” he said calling it “an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN.”
Earlier he said Israel’s prime minister turned to President-elect Donald Trump to help head off the critical U.N. resolution.
Although the U.S. opposes the settlements, it has traditionally used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to block resolutions condemning Israel, saying that disputes between Israel and the Palestinians must be resolved through negotiations. But after eight years of failed peace efforts during the Obama Administration, Israel has expressed concern the outgoing president would take an audacious step to leave his mark on the region. In recent weeks, the White House had been especially secretive about its deliberations.
The Israeli official’s admission marked a final chapter in the icy relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama over the last eight years, and signaled an era of close ties between Israel and the incoming Trump administration.
The Egyptian-sponsored resolution had demanded that Israel halt settlement activities in occupied territories claimed by the Palestinians and declared that existing settlements “have no legal validity.”
But under heavy Israeli pressure, Egypt called off a planned vote in the Security Council hours before it was to take place. In the diplomatic activity ahead of the postponement, both Netanyahu and Trump issued nearly identical statements urging the U.S. to veto the measure. “After becoming aware that the administration would not veto the anti-Israel resolution, Israeli officials reached out to Trump’s transition team to ask for the president-elect’s help to avert the resolution,” the Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity.
On Friday, Egypt said its president had received a call from Trump in which they both agreed to give the incoming U.S. administration a chance to try and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The call came hours after Egypt indefinitely postponed the U.N. vote. A statement from the Egyptian presidency said the two men spoke by phone early Friday and agreed on “the importance of giving a chance for the new American administration to deal in a comprehensive way with the different aspects of the Palestinian issue with the aim of achieving a comprehensive and a final resolution.”
A senior Palestinian official, speaking anonymously according to protocol, said Egypt didn’t consult with the Palestinians about delaying the vote and it was a “complete shock” for them. Egypt represents Arab states on the security council. Egypt is the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, and the two countries have close security ties in a shared struggle against Islamic militants.
He said attempts are still underway to bring the resolution to vote after Egypt called it off as there are still several other sponsors- Venezuela, Malaysia, Senegal and New Zealand – that could present it.
The U.S., along with the Palestinians and nearly all of the international community, opposes Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as obstacles to peace. Some 600,000 Israelis live in the two territories, which the Palestinians seek as part of a future independent state. Israel captured both areas in the 1967 Mideast war.
Trump has signaled he will be far more sympathetic to Israel. His campaign platform made no mention of the establishment of a Palestinian state, a core policy objective of Democratic and Republican presidents over the past two decades. He also has vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would put the U.S. at odds with the Palestinians and almost the entire remainder of the international community, and his pick for ambassador to Israel, Jewish-American lawyer David Friedman, is a donor and vocal supporter of the settlements.
The proposed resolution would have been more than symbolic. While it did not call for imposing sanctions on Israel, its language could have hindered Israel’s negotiating position in future peace talks. Given the widespread international opposition to the settlements, it would have been nearly impossible for the Trump administration to reverse it.
It remained unclear Friday whether the measure would come up for a vote in the council before Obama leaves office.
In a Christmas greeting on Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: “Despite the Israeli occupation, our presence in our homeland and the preservation of our cultural and national heritage are the most important form of resistance in the face of the darkness of a foreign colonialist occupying power.” (Associated Press)
New Zealand Says Kerry Held Closed-Door Discussion on Anti-Israel UN Resolution
The Obama administration claims it did not promote, craft or orchestrate a resolution that treats the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City as a settlement in illegally occupied territory. Yet in November, John Kerry had a long talk on the subject with the foreign minister of New Zealand, one of the resolution’s sponsors.
“One of the closed-door discussions between United States Secretary of State John Kerry and the New Zealand government today was a potential resolution by the United Nations Security Council on a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict,” the New Zealand Heraldreported last month. “It is a conversation we are engaged in deeply and we’ve spent some time talking to Secretary Kerry about where the U.S. might go on this,” Foreign Minister Murray McCully said.
We have the spectacle of the U.S. government hiding behind the skirts of the foreign minister of New Zealand – along with eminent co-sponsors, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal – in order to embarrass and endanger a democratic ally in a forum where that ally is already isolated and bullied. In the catalog of low points in American diplomacy, this one ranks high. (Wall Street Journal)
Israel plans additional retaliatory moves against UN over resolution
Israel plans to target the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which Jerusalem says is investing a great deal of manpower and resources in moves meant to undermine and harm the State of Israel.
According to the Israeli government, there is evidence to indicate teachers and other workers in the agency regularly incite the Palestinian population against Israel.
Israel will also seek to adjourn the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), which Jerusalem says is a UN body whose entire purpose to “preserve the Palestinian narrative.” With this, Israeli officials claim, the UN is actually taking sides in the conflict.
CEIRPP often pushes anti-Israeli resolutions at the UN, accusing it of “ethnically cleansing the Palestinians” and blaming it for the violence that has plagued Israel for over a year.
Israel will also work to cancel appointments of anti-Israeli officials at the UN who regularly make statements against Israel, at times using anti-Semitic language. So far, Israel’s calls to dismiss these officials have fallen on deaf ears, but Jerusalem hopes the new US administration of Donald Trump would be able to assist on the matter.
Israel will promote a UN resolution that would set rules of conduct for UN employees, including employees of the UN’s different agencies, so they would be made accountable for any statements that exceed their mandate, including ones that incite to violence or are anti-Semitic in nature. As a result of breaking the rules of conduct, the UN employees would be faced with personal sanctions, including dismissal.
Israel will work to cancel the funding for a March 2016 decision made by the UN Human Rights Council to compile a “black list” of businesses operating in Israel, which the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement (BDS) could use for measures against Israel.
Finally, Israel will cut funding to different UN agencies.
Israel accuses the United Nations of being biased against it, and earlier this month, outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon confirmed this assertion. “Over the last decade, I have argued that we cannot have a bias against Israel at the UN,” Ban told the UN Security Council.
“Decades of political maneuvering have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel. In many cases, instead of helping the Palestinian issue, this reality has foiled the ability of the UN to fulfill its role effectively.”
Israel hopes the new Trump administration will be able to help facilitate these moves. The United States has a lot of influence over the international organization as it funds 22.4 percent of its budget.
Trump’s choice for next US ambassador to the UN is Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, a known Israel supporter. She was the first governor to pass legislation against the BDS Movement in her state and has made many pro-Israel comments throughout her career.
In addition to moves against the UN, Prime Minister Netanyahu also instructed the Foreign Ministry to suspend any Israeli diplomatic trips to the countries that supported the resolution and reduce contact with their embassies.
He also instructed government ministers not to hold meetings with ministers from these countries—including Britain, France, Spain, Japan, Ukraine and Russia—nor travel there.(Ynet News)
Israel Fears Diplomatic Whirlwind Looming in President Obama’s Final Days
Israel fears that the United States and France want to advance another move on the Israeli-Palestinian issue before President Obama leaves office on January 20.
A senior official in Jerusalem said that during Sunday’s security cabinet meeting, ministers were presented with an assessment that during the international foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled for January 15 in Paris as part of the French peace initiative, a series of decisions on the peace process will be made. These will immediately be brought to the UN Security Council for a vote and will be adopted there before January 20.
The move presented to the ministers led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell the Likud ministers during their subsequent meeting that Friday’s vote in the Security Council on the settlements was not the end of the story and that there are liable to be other steps taken by the international community, the official added.
Representatives of the Foreign Ministry, the National Security Council and others who attended the security cabinet meeting presented information indicating that the trend in talks between France, the U.S. and other countries in preparation for the foreign ministers’ meeting tended toward advancing such a move, he added.
According to the information that Israel has, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wants to utilize the foreign ministers’ parley, which will be attended by representatives of dozens of countries, to deliver an address that presents his vision for the two-state solution. The senior official said that Israel fears this address will include American principles for resolving the core issues of borders, refugees, security arrangements and Jerusalem.
“The Foreign Ministry and the National Security Council spoke about information to the effect that what is planned is that the foreign ministers’ meeting in Paris will make a summary decision that will be adopted by the Quartet [on the Middle East] and by the UN Security Council before January 20,” the senior official said. “Israel believes this is an operative plan and the assumption is that the Americans are leading it all, together with the French.”
It was such a fear about the foreign ministers’ meeting in Paris that led Netanyahu to instruct his ministers to avoid public statements to the media about launching a wave of settlement construction or annexing parts of the West Bank in response to Friday’s Security Council resolution.
“The effort now is to see how to prevent such a move at the Paris conference,” the senior official said. “That’s why there is no need to provoke and no need to do anything to add fuel to this.”
Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu summoned the American ambassador to Israel to clarify matters over the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Netanyahu has also stepped up the diplomatic response to the UN vote and ordered the government to reduce ties with the 12 countries that supported the resolution. (Ha’aretz)
Obama’s Anti Israel Tantrum
The U.N. Resolution is a Defining Act of Obama’s Presidency
Wall Street Journal Editorial
The decision by the United States to abstain from a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel over its settlements on the West Bank is one of the most significant, defining moments of the Obama Presidency.
It defines this President’s extraordinary ability to transform matters of public policy into personal pique at adversaries. And it defines the reality of the international left’s implacable opposition to the Israeli state.
Earlier in the week, Egypt withdrew the Security Council resolution under pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President-elect Donald Trump also intervened, speaking with Egypt’s government and, via Twitter, urging Mr. Obama to block the resolution, as have past U.S. Administrations and Mr. Obama himself in 2011.
As was widely reported Friday after the U.N. vote, the White House decided to abstain—thereby allowing the pro-Palestinian resolution to pass—in retaliation against the intervention by Messrs. Netanyahu and Trump.
Mr. Obama’s animus toward Prime Minister Netanyahu is well known. Apparently Mr. Obama took it as an affront that the President-elect would express an opinion about this week’s U.N. resolution.
It is important, though, to see this U.S. abstention as more significant than merely Mr. Obama’s petulance. What it reveals clearly is the Obama Administration’s animus against the state of Israel itself. No longer needing Jewish votes, Mr. Obama was free, finally, to punish the Jewish state in a way no previous President has done.
No effort to rescind the resolution, which calls the settlements a violation of “international law,” will succeed because of Russia’s and China’s vetoes.
Instead, the resolution will live on as Barack Obama’s cat’s paw, offering support in every European capital, international institution and U.S. university campus to bully Israel with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer implored the Administration to veto the resolution, noting rightly that it represents nothing more than the “Zionism is racism” bias at the U.N. Let Senator Schumer note the true nature of his party’s left wing.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called the Administration’s action “shameful.” Senator Lindsey Graham said he will form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or reduce U.S. financial support for the U.N. That should proceed.
For Donald Trump, meet your State Department. This is what State’s permanent bureaucrats believe, this is what they want, and Barack Obama delivered it to them.
Tweets won’t change this now-inbred hostility to America’s oldest democratic ally in the Middle East. Mr. Obama’s pique, however, has made it crystal clear to the new Administration where the lines in the sand are drawn.
Obama pulls a bait-and-switch on anti-Israel Security Council vote
by Alan M Dershowitz The Hill
The Obama administration pulled a bait and switch in refusing to veto the recent Security Council resolution against Israel. In attempting to justify its abstention – which under Security Council rules has the same effect as a vote in favor – the administration focuses on “new” settlement building, especially in areas deep into the West Bank.
In her speech to the Security Council, Ambassador Samantha Powers explained the administration’s vote this way:
“Today, the Security Council reaffirmed its established consensus that settlements have no legal validity…. President Obama and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly warned – publically and privately – that the absence of progress toward peace and continued settlement expansion was going to put the two-state solution at risk, and threaten Israel’s stated objective to remain both a Jewish State and a democracy … This resolution reflects trends that will permanently destroy the hope of a two-state solution if they continue on their current course”
Likewise Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, said:
“Netanyahu had the opportunity to pursue policies that would have led to a different outcome today…. In the absence of any meaningful peace process, as well as in the accelerated settlement activity, we took the decision that we did today to abstain on the resolution.” (emphasis added)
In a press release, the pro-Obama advocacy group J. Street welcomed America’s abstention, citing a poll showing “that 62 percent of Jewish voters believe the United States should either support or abstain from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank.”(emphasis added)
And the media – from CNN, to the New York Times, to the Wall Street Journal – also reported that the resolution was only about the expansion of new settlements.
But the text of the resolution itself goes well beyond new building in these controversial areas and applies equally to historically Jewish areas that were unlawfully taken by Jordanian military action during Israel’s War of Independence and liberated by Israel in a war started by Jordan in 1967.
The text of the Security Council Resolution says that “any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem,” have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” This means that Israel’s decision to build a plaza for prayer at the Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site – constitutes a “flagrant violation of international law.” If it does then why did President Obama pray there and leave a note asking for peace?
Under this resolution, the access roads that opened up Hebrew University to Jewish and Arab students and the Hadassah Hospital to Jewish and Arab patients are illegal, as are all the rebuilt synagogues – destroyed by Jordan – in the ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
Is it really now U.S. policy to condemn Israel for liberating these historically Jewish areas in Jerusalem? Does Obama really believe they should be made judenrein again, as they were between 1949 and 1967?
If so, why didn’t the administration openly acknowledge that it was changing half a century of bipartisan support for Israel’s claims to these sacred areas? If not, why did it not demand changes in the language of the resolution to limit it to new building in disputed areas of the West Bank?
The Obama administration can’t have it both ways. It must now declare where it stands on Israel’s right to allow prayer at the Western Wall, access to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, and the repair of destroyed synagogues to the Jewish Quarter.
J Street, as well, has an obligation to its members – many of whom pray at the Western Wall and have deep connections to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem – to advise them whether the organization supports Israel’s abandoning these Jewish areas until Palestinians agree to a negotiated settlement.
The media, as well, should clarify the impact of the resolution beyond new building in the West Bank, so that all Americans well know what their President supported.
President-elect Donald Trump and Congress can make it clear that it is not U.S. policy that all changes “to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem” are in violation of international law. The new president can immediately recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin the process of moving our embassy there.
The justification for keeping it in Tel Aviv was not to change the status quo, but that justification no longer exists because this resolution does precisely that: it declares the status quo – the reality on the ground that acknowledges Israel’s legitimate claims to its most sacred and historical Jewish areas – to be flagrant violations of international law. Congress can legislate no funding to implement the Security Council’s troubling resolution.
If the Obama administration refuses to announce that it supports the language of the resolution that applies to the Jewish areas discussed above, then the entire resolution should be deemed invalid because the U.S. did not cast its abstention – the equivalent of a yes vote – in good faith.
Israel resolution adds to record of US policy failure
Editorial from the Australian
Barack Obama’s parting shot in countermanding four decades of bipartisan US support for Israel at the UN brings him no credit and will do nothing to help what slim prospects there are for a resumption of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
His action has been attributed to personal pique, a desire to get even with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before he leaves the Oval Office. But his historic decision to abandon the defence of Israel at the UN Security Council is also, as The Wall Street Journal has pointed out, one of the most significant moments of the Obama presidency and one likely to have far-reaching consequences.
In his rage over Washington’s failure to cast its usual veto to block a resolution severely criticising Israel’s settlements policy as “a flagrant violation of international law”, Mr Netanyahu has lashed out at what he terms a “shameful ambush”. It would be hard to disagree. In the past, through successive Democratic and Republican administrations, Washington has been steadfast in vetoing such extremist resolutions.
Five years ago, when an almost identical resolution was proposed, Mr Obama had no difficulty using the veto. This time he told his representatives to abstain, allowing a resolution to be passed by the Security Council 14-0 that is certain to provide a major boost for the powerful, global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. In providing, for the first time, the world body’s imprimatur for the contention that Jewish settlements are an obstacle to peace and a “violation of international law”, the resolution will also establish a significant stumbling block to negotiations while doing nothing to stop Israeli settlement building.
The Palestinians have long made it clear they see the course to statehood through the UN rather than making the concessions needed in direct bilateral negotiations with Israel.
Mr Obama has been shortsighted. So, too, have countries such as New Zealand, incomprehensibly a co-sponsor of the UN resolution and one of 10 nations from which Mr Netanyahu has angrily withdrawn his ambassadors over their host country’s failure to defeat the vote. Israel’s opposition politicians agree with Mr Netanyanhu, describing the resolution as “dangerous and harmful”. So do powerful elements within the Democratic Party.
Mr Obama’s UN ambassador, Samantha Power, made a good point when, in explaining the US’s abstention, she said that while the world body was targeting Israel, it had done precious little about the appalling slaughter in Aleppo and elsewhere. The criticism should apply to her boss: his withdrawal of Washingon’s longstanding defence of Israel at the UN adds a far-reaching dimension to eight years of lamentable, profoundly costly and unremitting policy failure by his administration in the Middle East. They are failures of leadership Donald Trump must lose no time in fixing.
Obama’s parting “gift” to Israel
by Ron Weiser
Over the past month or so Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Lieberman had cautioned members of their own government against making any rash statements or legislative proposals in anticipation of what President elect Trump might or might not give a green light to next year, in order to avoid inciting President Obama in his last few weeks in office.
Despite this, Education Minister Bennett forced some legislative proposals to a first Knesset reading to attempt to retrospectively legalise previously unauthorised outposts, over the objections of Netanyahu and Lieberman.
Ultimately this legislation, should it even pass, will not save the outpost of Amona, the main reason it was supposedly rushed forward in the first place.
Of course, we will never know how much of a role it played in last Friday’s vote, but Obama’s parting “gift” to Israel is truly abysmal.
Ironically, until this moment Obama was the first US President to have not allowed a single resolution critical of Israel to pass the United Nations Security Council during his entire two terms. Indeed in 2011 he used his veto power to block a similar Security Council resolution to the one passed last week.
Other US presidents, considered more friendly to Israel than Obama, presidents such as Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Clinton and George W. Bush, each allowed multiple resolutions critical of Israel to pass the UN General Assembly and/or the Security Council.
On the one hand one might ask what difference this latest resolution might mean?
After all, in 1980 the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 465 which said that Israel’s actions in:
“Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity… constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention… and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
That resolution, somewhat similar to the one just passed, had little practical effect.
However, we live today in different times and in a changed world.
Today we are post Oslo and post a repeated Palestinian refusal to accept a Two State for Two People resolution of the conflict whatever the colour of Israel’s successive governments who have offered it.
The neighbourhood around Israel also makes for a more unstable and unpredictable security situation due, in large part, to the ever increasing fingerprints of the terrorist state of Iran.
Especially now with the publicly stated unwillingness to exert US military power in Syria by both Obama and President elect Trump, allowing the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo to take place and formalising the turning of Syria into an Iranian proxy.
The Palestinians today seek to achieve all of their aims without negotiations and without the one thing they have educated their people they will never do – recognise Israel as the Jewish State. Seeing as that is the price they need to pay to achieve a Two State for Two People resolution of the conflict, they seek to avoid all negotiations.
This latest Security Council resolution delivers the Palestinians exactly that. Gains without negotiations, gains without mutual concessions and a further delegitimisation of Israel’s position.
The resolution is firstly symbolic and damages Israel in the court of public opinion.
But it may also have practical effect in other ways, possibly via International Courts, further UN action and in support of elements of the BDS campaign.
And perhaps worst of all, this resolution sends a message to the Palestinian leadership that they have more to gain by avoiding peace talks with Israel than by participating in them.
However, there is another question we need to address.
What we deplore from those whose support many regard as suspect and what we tolerate and excuse from those we call friend.
Yes, President Obama is the man many Israel supporters love to hate.
Yes, Obama did not exercise the veto and in all likelihood this one action will be seen as his legacy on Israel and proof that he was “bad for Israel”.
And yes, this resolution is highly damaging to Israel and Middle East peace prospects generally.
The United States abstained.
But fourteen other countries voted in favour.
Theresa May swept into the British Prime Ministership midyear with a well deserved reputation and history of ongoing support for British Jewry and Jews. She is also well known for her profound support for the State of Israel.
In fact, as much as some Trump supporters talk about how pro Israel he is, the talk about Theresa May was even greater and with a longer and deeper history to back that up.
Britain also has veto power. Britain chose not only to not exercise her veto, but went far further than Obama and voted in favour of the resolution.
This week was supposed to see a state visit to Israel of the Ukrainian Prime Minister (who happens to be Jewish). Netanyahu cancelled it after Ukraine also voted in favour of the resolution.
Just five weeks ago, the Foreign Minister of Uruguay visited Israel when Netanyahu publicly thanked him:
“for your country’s friendship and support, and for your important pro-Israel position at the UN Assembly as well as the Security Council.”
But Uruguay too, voted in favour of the Security Council resolution.
Australia does not sit on the Security Council.
And Australia is certainly one of the most pro Israel countries in the world, a proud record continuing under the leadership of Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Yet, at the annual United Nations orgy on the Middle East that occurred on the 29th and 30th of November this year marking “Palestine Day”, six anti-Israel resolutions were passed by the General Assembly.
On all six of those resolutions the United States, led by President Obama, voted against and therefore in support of Israel.
On all six of those resolutions Canada, no longer led by ex PM Harper one of Israel’s greatest friends, but now by Prime Minister Trudeau who many regarded as less supportive of Israel, voted against and therefore in support of Israel.
On three of those resolutions Australia proudly stood with literally a handful of countries and voted against and therefore in support of Israel.
But on the other three resolutions, Australia could not bring itself to join Obama and Trudeau in support of Israel and chose to abstain.
Even if positions have not changed historically, even if voting patterns may have continued, the world has changed and times have changed and circumstances have changed.
And the wording of resolutions in the international arena have gotten worse as far as Israel is concerned and the consequences potentially more damaging.
Against the background of these changed circumstances it behooves us to encourage all of our friends to see the need to reassess their voting patterns and to realise the increased danger of “business as usual”.