The Obama administration came close to what many of us have feared would happen, abandoning Israel at the U.N.

Yes, the U.S. finally — after a sustained bipartisan Congressional outcry — did veto a one-sided and politically opportunistic resolution pushed by the Palestinian Authority declaring Israeli settlement construction anywhere beyond the 1967 border to be “illegal.”

But this veto was hardly a victory for Israel.  As Jonathan Tobin points out at Commentary, the Obama administration performance was damaging (emphasis mine):

On the surface, the veto cast by the United States in the UN Security Council on Friday ought to be considered more proof of Obama’s steadfastness as a friend of Israel. When all was said and done, he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors and refused to allow the UN body to brand Israel a criminal lawbreaker. That this veto took place after an American effort to head off a vote by proposing a “statement” by the president of Security Council, rather than a formal resolution, was rejected by the Palestinians was testimony to the latter’s intransigence and not to Obama’s loyalty to his Israeli ally. And the unnecessary explanation given after the vote that branded the Jewish state’s position on the issue of settlements as “illegitimate” and went on to claim that they “threatened” peace and “devastate” trust undermined any notion of U.S. support for Israel.

Obama apologists could argue that opposition to settlements isn’t new. But the talk of the “illegitimacy” of the homes of not only the more than quarter million Israelis who live in the West Bank but of the more than 200,000 who live in the parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1949 and 1967 is something different. As with the fight that Obama picked in the spring of 2010 over building houses in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem, this statement escalates a long-standing disagreement into a more serious dispute. Obama’s attempt to erase the distinction between the remote settlements that Israel has already said it would give up in a peace accord and those that the Bush administration conceded in a 2004 were established facts that must be respected was one thing. But Obama’s willingness to treat 40-year-old Jewish neighborhoods in Israel’s ancient capital as illegal settlements was quite another. Agreeing with those who wrongly claim all the settlements are illegal (as opposed to unwise or worthy of surrender for the sake of peace) was bad enough. But the American declaration on Friday (repeated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on ABC News on Sunday) that the Jewish presence there was “illegitimate” again places the issue in a different light….

So while relations could still deteriorate further, there is no doubt that Obama’s negative feelings toward Israel are becoming a serious factor in Middle East diplomacy that is making the already poor chances for peace worse and increasing the possibility that Israel’s foes will conclude that the Jewish state cannot count on U.S. support if new fighting breaks out along the border with Gaza or Lebanon.

The damage was not just to Israel, which was pushed by the Obama administration right up to the precipice but not over it (yet).

The drama of the U.S. practically begging Mahmoud Abbas not to push the resolution, and the apologetic statement of Susan Rice after veto was cast, continue to cement the perception that the U.S. is weak.  Which encourages more demands and more intransigence, including the upcoming Palestinian “day of rage” directed at the U.S. for not capitulating to their demands. 

For heavan’s sake, we’re now on bended knees to Mahmoud Abbas?

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