President Obama Still Thinks It Was “the Best Move for Peace”
In an Israeli TV interview conducted earlier this week at the White House, President Obama dismissed the criticism that he had betrayed Israel by opting not to veto United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2334.
The U.S. abstention allowed the Security Council to adopt the resolution on December 23. It branded Israel’s settlements in east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria/the West Bank as illegal and occupied Palestinian land.
The interview for Israel’s Channel 2 aired on Tuesday night. In it, Obama insisted that the resolution was the “best move for peace” and that he had “an obligation to do what I think is right.”
As we’ve noted in several posts, the reality is that UNSC 2334 is a repugnant document and not in the least conducive to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s peaceful resolution:
- Reports: Anti-Israel UN Resolution vote TODAY After one-day delay
- UN Security Council Passes Anti-Israel Resolution, U.S. Abstains
- UN Resolution 2334 advances the boycott of Israel
It effectively outlaws an Israeli presence on the holiest sites in Judaism located in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. It further condemns all settlement activity, despite the fact that Jews have had a near-continuous presence in those areas for thousands of years. The “disgraceful and harmful” resolution is also a setback for peace because it encourages Palestinian rejectionism.
This is already a sufficient number of reasons to repudiate this “shameful and morally incoherent” resolution. But now we can add another: UNSC 2334 is putting innocent lives in danger.
This past Tuesday Israeli defense officials reported that they’re seeing a “dramatic increase” in rock attacks since the UN Security Council resolution passed.
Palestinian Rock-Throwing Spikes Since UN Settlement Vote
Reporting for The Times of Israel, Avi Issacharoff notes:
The West Bank has seen a sharp rise in the number of violent attacks, primarily rock-throwing incidents, since an anti-settlement resolution was passed on December 23, 2016 by the United Nations Security Council, Israeli defense officials said…
In September 346 rock-throwing attacks were recorded, in October 375, in November 420, and in December 344. Most of the December attacks occurred in the final week of the month. In the first week of January there were 169 recorded attacks, a pace that, if maintained, would lead to almost 700 attacks by the end of the month.”
Issacharoff writes that the spike in stonings could also be linked to other factors, including a series of anniversaries that take place around now: the founding of the Fatah political party and first terrorist attack on January 1, 1965 and Israel’s targeted assassination in Gaza of a notorious Hamas bomb maker back on January 5, 1996.In the past, there has also been an uptick in rock-throwing attacks from the last week of December through the first week of January because it’s exam season in Palestinian high schools.
Still, according to the report, the number of incidents this year represents a larger increase than in the same time period over previous years.
Issacharoff says that the “political context cannot be dismissed.”
It would be naïve to treat this increase in stonings following the UN Security Council Resolution as just a mere coincidence. That’s because Palestinian Authority officials have been leveraging UNSCR 2334 in recent weeks by using it to encourage the Palestinian public to bolster “popular resistance”—code for throwing stones and fire bombs.
This is nothing new. Aaron Klein (bureau chief and senior investigative reporter for Breitbart’s Jerusalem office) reminds:
The Palestinians have a long and sordid history of responding to peace talks or international pressure on Israel with a terror campaign targeting Israelis.”
The problem is that many people don’t see rock-throwing attacks as anything to be alarmed about, much less terrorist activity.
I noted in an earlier post that over the years rock-throwing has killed and maimed scores of innocent Israelis but has long been viewed as a popular and legitimate mode of Palestinian protest activism.
As I discussed in the post, the Palestinian rock-thrower conjures up an iconic image and the mainstream media often portrays hurling stones as a “rite of passage”, not an attempt at murder.
The fact is that hurled stones may be low tech but can inflict unimaginable devastation—even pebbles can be deadly (especially when flung via state-of-the-art slingshots)—no less so than firearms.
The post highlighted the many Jewish Israeli victims of this Palestinian so-called non-violent resistance. But I was remiss at the time in failing to acknowledge that Palestinians can be harmed by stonings too.
A new 5 minute video offers a good example.
Ami Horowitz’s New Video: Rock-Throwing at Checkpoints
The central focus of the short video, which was uploaded to Fox News’ YouTube channel on Tuesday and is now circulating widely on the internet, isn’t about rock-throwing.
Produced by well-known satiric filmmaker and American media personality Ami Horowitz, the video addresses the question: does Israel prevent Palestinian freedom of movement in the West Bank?
Horowitz says that he was intrigued by Secretary of State John Kerry’s claims about West Bank checkpoints in his December 28 speech, delivered a few days after the UNSC 2334 vote.
Specifically, in his speech Kerry lambasted Israel for installing a “web of checkpoints” across the West Bank. According to Kerry, they needlessly “restricted daily movement”, disrupting Palestinian life and making it difficult for people to travel around.
Horowitz set out to verify Kerry’s claims only to find that none of them are true. He was able to traverse the West Bank unimpeded for hundreds of miles in a car with Palestinian plates and a Palestinian driver.
He says he was never stopped once and has the footage to prove it.
There are checkpoints where Palestinians enter Israel from Palestinian-Authority controlled territory—set up during the years of the second intifada (2000-2006) to prevent terrorist infiltration from the West Bank and save lives. Horowitz talks to Palestinians waiting at one of them—the Kalandia checkpoint.
They tell him that it’s no great hardship or nuisance to get through and takes only a matter of minutes.
The evidence in the video debunking Kerry’s West Bank claims match up with other reports about checkpoint crossings being less disruptive today to Palestinians than they used to be in the past. One of the reasons is that Israel contracted with Hewlett-Packard (the company that anti-Israel BDS activists seek to boycott) for biometric ID technology in order to lessen the wait-time for Palestinians at checkpoints.
Apparently, it’s working out great.
The 5 minute video is worth watching, but for the purposes of this post, the relevant part comes at the end when a group of hooligan teens decide to hurl rocks (more like small boulders) at the Kalandia checkpoint. Spoiler alert: it’s a Palestinian kid who gets injured. IDF soldiers then tend to his wound.Conclusion
By its very nature terrorism is indiscriminate. Recent Palestinian terrorist attacks—shootings, Molotov cocktail throwing, vehicle rammings, stabbings, and stonings—kill and maim Israelis and Arabs, adults and children, Jews and non-Jews alike.
In recent weeks since the UN anti-Israel resolution passed there’s been an alarming rise in these violent Palestinian attacks, primarily rock-throwing. This demonstrates that UNSC 2334 and Kerry’s follow-up speech were self-defeating. If Obama and Kerry’s goal was to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, then they have only pushed that day farther away.
Miriam F. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She is the editor of five books and the author of over 60 journal articles, book chapters, and government reports on topics related to international and national security, religion and politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also frequently speaks and writes on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamElman