Israel dodged a UN bullet today thanks to Trump, but there are 27 days left in Obama’s presidency.
Back in February 2012, I wrote that I expected that in his second term Obama would force his vision of a “peace” deal on the Israelis.
We’ve had several close calls, with the John Kerry negotiation fiasco and flirtation with various European and Arab initiatives through the UN. The mechanism would be a failure to veto a Security Council resolution setting the terms of a deal.
Part of it is Obama hatred of Bibi Netanyahu, dating back to the beginning of Obama’s presidency. The snubs and dislike was palpable long before Netanyahu’s address to Congress opposing the Iran nuclear deal.
Aside from the personal, ideologically Obama at least implicitly signs onto the view that Jews living beyond the 1949 armistice line is an act of illegitimacy at best, illegality at worst, and the heart of the problem.
(We have refuted those claims both factually and legally many times.)
To put it in perspective, taking the position that Jews can’t legally live and Israel could exercise no sovereignty beyond the 1949 armistice line, means that the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, ethnically cleansed of Jews and ransacked by the Jordanians, would forever remain Jew-free.
Just a couple of months ago, there was written about how an Obama move was expected after the election. For example, on October 6, 2016, The Times of Israel reported:
An Israel official on Thursday deepened the latest dispute with the Obama administration over settlement-building by charging that “disproportionate criticism” from Washington over the latest construction plans is “an alibi” to cover plans by President Barack Obama to take anti-Israel actions in the final weeks of his presidency.
Israel faces a unique window of danger from Nov. 9 to Jan. 20: What might President Obama do in his final days in office to slam the Jewish state?
Start with Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent flat refusal to promise a US veto on any upcoming anti-Israel resolution in the UN Security Council.
On Saturday, Haaretz reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Kerry he’s counting on Washington to stick to its policy of nixing anti-Israel resolutions. Kerry’s reply: The administration has yet to make a decision on the matter.
For Kerry to leave any doubt that America would shield Israel at the United Nations is bad enough. But concerns about what Team Obama might do go far beyond that.
In a recent Bloomberg column, Eli Lake reports on the threat of “a last-minute [Obama] speech, an executive order or UN action” at Israel’s expense.
On October 27, Charles Krauthammer predicted the same, Is Obama Preparing a Parting Shot at Israel?:
And what to make of the White House’s correction to a news release about last month’s funeral of Shimon Peres? The original release identified the location as “Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel.” The correction crossed out the country identifier — “Israel.”
Well, where else is Jerusalem? Sri Lanka? Moreover, Mount Herzl isn’t even in disputed East Jerusalem. It’s in West Jerusalem, within the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel. If that’s not Israel, what is?
But such cowardly gestures are mere pinpricks compared to the damage Israel faces in the final days of the Obama presidency. As John Hannah of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recently wrote (in Foreign Policy), there have been indications for months that President Obama might go to the U.N. and unveil his own final status parameters of a two-state solution….
The result would be not just perpetual war but incalculable damage to Israel. And irreversible, too, because the resolution would be protected from alteration by the Russian and/or Chinese veto.
As for the damage, consider but one example: the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, destroyed and ethnically cleansed of Jews by its Arab conquerors in the war of 1948-1949. It was rebuilt by Israel after 1967. It would now be open to the absurd judicial charge that the Jewish state’s possession of the Jewish Quarter constitutes a criminal occupation of another country.
Today, Obama’s plan almost was realized, and would have been but for the intervention of Donald Trump.
In a surprise move, Egypt announced on almost no notice that it would put to a Security Council vote a resolution that would have declared any and all Jewish presence beyond the 1949 armistice line illegal, the impediment to peace, and subject to further enforcement action. One provision in the resolution, demanding that nations distinguish between Israel and “occupied Palestinian territories” would be a boost for the emerging European labeling and boycott of items produced in the “West Bank.”
The resolution is not a mere expression of continued support for a two-state solution, it is imposing a solution based on a distortion of history.
But then Israel went into overdrive, and Donald Trump came to the rescue.
Haaretz reports on Israeli suspicions the Egyptian move was coordinated with the Obama administration, How Israel Blocked the UN Vote on Settlements:
After a 15-hour political drama Thursday, Israel succeeded in deflecting, if only temporarily, a United Nations Security Council vote on a draft resolution against the settlements.
Pressure from the Prime Minister’s Bureau on Cairo, which proposed the resolution, requests for assistance and coordination from President-elect Donald Trump and contacts at the UN and in several world capitals caused Egypt to retract its request for a snap vote.
Nevertheless it was made clear to the participants in a meeting of the security-diplomatic cabinet last night that the crisis is ongoing and the possibility remains that a vote will still be held in the next few days….
The senior official said that the deep concern in Jerusalem was that Egypt was acting in full coordination with the White House. The assumption in Israel, he added was – and is – that Obama did not intend to veto the resolution but to abstain – thus allowing it to pass.
That concern grew when information arrived in Jerusalem on Thursday morning that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had already prepared a speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which he intended giving a few hours before the Security Council session…
Another channel operated by Israel was with President-elect Trump.
Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, and other Israelis, approached Trumps’ senior advisers, asking them to publish a statement against the Egyptian move. Trump subsequently tweeted, calling on Obama to cast a veto against the resolution. If the resolution was adopted by the Security Council, Trump said, it would be “unfair toward Israelis and will place Israel at a disadvantage in future negotiations.” ….
On Thursday afternoon, Netanyahu announced a special meeting of the security cabinet. Before the cabinet could meet however, Egypt announced that they would ask for the resolution to be postponed by at least a day in order to confer with the foreign ministers of the Arab League.
The immediate result of the announcement was the cancellation of Kerry’s planned speech, which the State Department spokesman said concerned Kerry’s vision regarding the conflict. The speech would be given at another time, he said.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israelis expect more Obama administration moves against Israel at the U.N.:
Israeli officials believed the Obama administration had planned its abstention for some time, and was angered by Egypt’s decision to suddenly change course. The goal of the White House, according to the Israeli government’s assessment, was to let off a parting shot at a prime minister with whom it has fought for years and to bind the incoming administration with new international language.
As its suspicions grew, the government warned the Obama administration that it would ask the president-elect for help.
According to Reuters, four Security Council members are now warning Egypt that if it does not put its resolution up for a vote, then they reserve the right to do so.
State Department officials declined to comment on whether Trump’s aides had reached out ahead of time, and would not confirm that the US had plans to abstain.
The Times of Israel also reports on Israel’s belief this was a targeted strike by Obama and how Trump saved the day:
The effort to push through an anti-settlements resolution at the United Nations Security Council on Thursday constituted a diplomatic “hit” by US President Barack Obama against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the settlement enterprise, according to a senior source in Jerusalem quoted by Israeli television on Thursday night….
According to Israel’s Channel 2, Egypt agreed to withdraw the resolution after President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was sent “messages” by President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team urging him to do so.
An Egyptian diplomatic source told Reuters that Cairo may have withdrawn the resolution in order to maintain positive ties with the incoming Trump administration. “We [Arab states] are all looking for a way to ensure constructive relations with this new administration. It’s not clear if this (resolution) helps that, or if it might even hinder,” the unnamed diplomat said.
That Obama pulled this move on almost no notice to the Israelis and right before the Christmas holiday is typical of his passive-aggressive style.
He will impose his vision on Israel by letting others do the dirty work, and simply letting it happen.
The Israelis are desperately counting down the days until Obama leaves office, just like the rest of us.DONATE
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