Hillel Neuer: Joining the Jackals: An Open Letter to Amb. Samantha Power | The Case Against U.N. Resolution 2334
Dear Ambassador Power,
I write in response to your abstention on Friday which allowed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel, and in response to the substantial explanation of vote that you delivered. With even further U.N. measures still possible before President Obama leaves office on January 20th, I urge you and the Administration—where you play an influential role as a member of the President’s Cabinet, and as one of President Obama’s most trusted advisors—to reconsider your approach.
Your speech on Friday had much to applaud. As you have vigorously done for three years, your remarks exposed in compelling detail the U.N. double standard applied to the Jewish state, which, you rightly said, “not only hurts Israel, it undermines the legitimacy of the United Nations itself.”
As you noted last year on the 40th anniversary of the infamous Zionism is Racism resolution, at the U.N. “rarely a day goes by without some effort to delegitimize Israel.” On that occasion, you called for everyone to “relentlessly fight back” against this “ignorance and hatred.”
Your vote on Friday, however, makes a dramatic break with all of this. While it is perfectly legitimate to disagree with Israel about settlements, allowing Resolution 2334 to pass was morally wrong and strategically damaging. As set forth below, we believe the U.S. decision to acquiesce in the adoption of this lopsided resolution reverses decades of past practice, sets back the cause of peace, and harms the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans.
On today’s Israel Uncensored, Josh Hasten interviews Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post Senior Contributing Editor, columnist, and renowned author to get her take on the anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution passed this week. Glick says that the resolution gives a green light to terrorism, lends support to the anti-Israel BDS movement and is a betrayal not only to Israel, but to the American people who are also seen as legitimate targets by the worldwide Jihad. Glick says that despite the resolution there is a silver lining with a new US Administration on the way. She concludes that this Hanukkah we should learn from our Maccabee ancestors that despite the adversity, in the end the People of Israel will prevail.
Responding to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
“Israel is deeply grateful to the United States of America, to successive American administrations, to the American Congress, to the American people. We’re grateful for the support Israel has received over many, many decades….I have no doubt that our alliance will endure the profound disagreement we have had with the Obama Administration and will become even stronger in the future.”
“But now I must express my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry – a speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN last week….What he did was to spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace by passionately condemning a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland and in their eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
“Hundreds of suicide bombings, thousands of rockets, millions of Israelis in bomb shelters are…the realities that the people of Israel had to endure because of mistaken policies, policies that at the time won the thunderous applause of the world….The Jewish people have sought their place under the sun for 3,000 years, and we’re not about to be swayed by mistaken policies that have caused great, great damage.”
“Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders. Israel’s hand has been extended in peace to its neighbors from day one….No one wants peace more than the people of Israel. Israel remains committed to resolving the outstanding differences between us and the Palestinians through direct negotiations. This is how we made peace with Egypt; this is how we made peace with Jordan; it’s the only way we’ll make peace with the Palestinians.”
“Last week’s Security Council resolution…reflects a radical shift in U.S. policy towards the Palestinians on final status issues….That shift happened despite the Palestinians walking away from peace and from peace offers time and time again, despite their refusal to even negotiate peace for the past eight years, and despite the Palestinian Authority inculcating a culture of hatred towards Israel in an entire generation of young Palestinians.”
“This conflict is not about houses or communities in the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, the Gaza district or anywhere else. This conflict is and has always been about Israel’s very right to exist….The persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state remains the core of the conflict and its removal is the key to peace. Palestinian rejection of Israel and support for terror are what the nations of the world should focus on if they truly want to advance peace.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Wednesday by saying that he was “deeply disappointed” in his remarks.
Kerry delivered a speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and defended the Obama administration’s decision to not veto a United Nations resolution that condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The administration’s choice to abstain from the vote broke with decades of U.S. policy to support the Jewish state in the U.N. against what some call anti-Israel measures.
“I must stress my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry,” Netanyahu said. “A speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the U.N. last week. A speech ostensibly about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish state for nearly a century.”
“What he did was to spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace by passionately condemning a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland and in their eternal capital, Jerusalem,” Netanyahu continued.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech on his proposed plan for peace between Israelis and Arabs. His plan: blame the Jews, pretend that Palestinian terrorism and incitement isn’t representative of the actual Palestinian government, and then blather for 69 more minutes. His speech razed facts to the ground in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.
Here were ten of the worst lies and lies-by-omission Kerry purveyed in his ode to lying and self-indulgence:
1. Equating Jewish Settlements and Palestinian Terrorism. Israel has been wracked by a wave of stabbings and shootings and rocket attacks from Palestinian terrorists over the last two years. Kerry spent a few minutes on that, but only in order to draw moral equivalence with Jews building additional bathrooms in East Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. “The truth is that trends on the ground, violence, terrorism, settlement expansion, and the seemingly endless occupation, they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides,” Kerry said. This is nonsense. Before there were any Jewish settlements – when Israel did not control Judea, Samaria, or Gaza – the Palestine Liberation Organization called for the “liberation” of Palestine, meaning the complete destruction of Israel. The problem isn’t people building homes. It’s Palestinians murdering Jews, and refusing to accept that any home built by a Jew ought to exist in the Middle East.
Khaled Abu Toameh: UN, Obama Further Radicalize Palestinians
Last week’s UN Security Council resolution sent the following message to the Palestinians: Forget about negotiating. Just pressure the international community to force Israel to surrender up all that you demand.
Abbas and his cronies are more belligerent and defiant than ever. They have chosen the path of confrontation, and not direct negotiations — to force Israel to its knees.
One of Abbas’s close associates hinted that the resolution should be regarded as a green light not only to boycott Israel, but also to use violence against it, to “bolster the popular resistance” against Israel — code for throwing stones and firebombs, and carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.
The resolution has also encouraged the Palestinians to pursue their narrative that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to Jerusalem or any other part of Israel.
The Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad see the resolution as another step toward their goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic empire. When Hamas talks about “resistance,” it means suicide bombings and rockets against Israel — it does not believe in “light” terrorism such as stones and stabbings.
The UN’s highly touted “victory,” is a purely Pyrrhic one, in fact a true defeat to the peace process and to the few Arabs and Muslims who still believe in the possibility of coexistence with Israel.
The U.N., which never condemned the Arab states that occupied the West Bank and Gaza before 1967, never denounced the exclusion of Jews from their holiest sites in Jerusalem for 19 years before that, and overlooked Palestinian incitement to terror, has once again shown the vastness of its hypocrisy. That double standard is hardly new and cannot add to the international organization’s discredit.
Yet the damage inflicted by this latest Security Council resolution may be unprecedented. Israel will once again have to defend itself, the Palestinians will refuse to talk, and peace will be ever more remote. The future of the Middle East will become more hopeless yet and America’s vital friendships around the world will be weakened.
Now is the time to start repairing. Israelis must be told that they are not illegal occupiers of their ancestral home and protected from hostile international courts. The Palestinians must be dissuaded from trying to end-run the peace process and compelled to return unconditionally to the negotiating table. Middle Eastern peoples must be assured that the world cares about them, and freedom-loving nations must regain confidence in the defender of the free world.
All of this will require bold American leadership. In 1975, the same U.N. equated Zionism—the national liberation movement of the Jewish people—with racism. Sixteen years later, thanks to the efforts of President George H.W. Bush, that pernicious resolution was revoked. History teaches us that such injustices can be corrected and that, with courage, the worst of the U.N.’s outrages can be rectified.
WSJ Editorial ($): Kerry’s Rage Against Israel
John Kerry delivered a marathon speech Wednesday excoriating Israel. It’s not for lack of U.S. diplomacy that there is no peace. In 2000 then-President Bill Clinton brought Israeli and Palestinian leaders to Camp David to negotiate a final peace agreement, only to watch Palestinians walk away from an offer that would have granted them a state on nearly all of Gaza and the West Bank. That failure was followed by another Palestinian terror campaign.
Israelis remember that they elected leaders – Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, Ehud Barak in 1999, Ehud Olmert in 2006 – who made repeated peace overtures to the Palestinians, only to be met with violence and rejection. Israelis also remember that Netanyahu ordered a settlement freeze, and that also brought peace no closer.
The lesson is that Jewish settlements are not the main obstacle to peace. If they were, Gaza would be on its way to becoming the Costa Rica of the Mediterranean. The obstacle is Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in any borders. A Secretary of State who wishes to resolve the conflict could have started from that premise, while admonishing the Palestinians that they will never get a state so long as its primary purpose is the destruction of its neighbor.
Bloomberg Editorial: Obama’s Betrayal of Israel at the UN Must Not Stand
President Barack Obama’s ill-advised decision to order the U.S. to abstain on a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements breaks with past U.S. policy, undermines a vital ally and sets back the cause of Middle East peace. Yet it also offers Democrats and Republicans a chance to unite around a more realistic approach to resolving one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.
The resolution, passed last week, says Israeli settlements built on land occupied since the 1967 war have “no legal validity.” It thus brands the one-tenth of Israel’s Jews who live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as residential outlaws, and could thereby strengthen the effort to sanction or boycott Israel, or even sue it in international bodies.
Previous U.S. administrations have vetoed such resolutions for just that reason, and for undermining the course of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer correctly noted in condemning the administration’s decision, the “fervently anti-Israel” UN is “the wrong forum” for Israel and the Palestinians to settle their differences.
By abandoning past U.S. practice, Obama is encouraging the Palestinians in their belief that they can leverage the UN in their effort to achieve statehood. If anything, his decision is a failure of diplomacy and is likely to backfire. It runs the risk of increasing domestic pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thereby fortifying his resolve to move ahead with settlements. Indeed, the wind is already blowing in this direction, with the Israeli government signaling Tuesday that it may escalate construction projects.
If the Palestinians want a lasting peace based on a two-state solution, they must accept that Israel, not the UN or the “international community,” is their negotiating partner. That means negotiating in good faith, not embracing empty resolutions that ignore agreements they have already reached to redraw Israel’s borders. It also means ending the “stabbing intifada,” condemning and fighting terrorism, and upholding their security obligations. Netanyahu, in turn, must be willing to uproot settlements that even Israeli law deems illegal, to trade land for peace, as Israel has done in the past, and to meet its security and economic obligations to Palestinians if they meet theirs.
The administration has not yet addressed the discrepancy between its own narrative and that being revealed in the press.
One veteran foreign policy insider and former government official who requested anonymity in order to speak freely described senior Obama administration officials as “lying sacks of shit” who routinely feed the press disinformation.
A senior congressional aide who is working on a package of repercussions aimed at the U.N. told the Free Beacon the administration is scrambling to provide excuses in response to the breakdown in its own narrative regarding the resolution.
“The administration got caught red handed, and now they’re talking out of both sides of their mouth,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “First they claimed the resolution was simply not objectionable. Now they say it will actually help advance peace. These denials only look more ridiculous with each passing day as new evidence surfaces that the White House was behind this anti-Israel resolution.”
The Obama administration has been caught several times misleading the public about its campaign to discredit Israel, including the funding of an organization that sought to unseat Netanyahu in the country’s last election, according to one congressional adviser who works with Republican and Democratic offices on Middle East issues.
While Israeli officials have pointed the finger for last week’s UN Security Council anti-settlements resolution firmly at US President Barack Obama, senior UK officials reportedly said Thursday that the motion — submitted by New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia, Venezuela — was effectively a British initiative.
Israel’s ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have insisted since Friday’s Security Council vote that there’s “absolutely incontestable” proof that the Obama administration pushed the resolution, and that “the United States was actually behind that gang-up,” respectively.
However, UK officials have stepped up in recent days to say the resolution was theirs, not the White House’s. The Jewish Chronicle quoted an unnamed senior British political source Thursday saying that by the time the text reached the 15-member body, it was “in effect a British resolution.” A day earlier, The Guardian reported Britain “played a key behind-the-scenes role” in ensuring the resolution passed.
Another British source told the Chronicle that the “yes” vote for the resolution was part of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s new strategy toward Israel, according to which the Jewish state’s friends have to take a stand against settlements to garner favor with the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on the Israeli government and his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. December 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on the Israeli government and his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. December 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
May, the paper reported, deems settlements a major inhibitor to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and Resolution 2334 was “the first step in a re-emphasizing of longstanding UK policy against settlements,” a British source told the paper.
In a scathing rebuke of the outgoing president and the secretary of state, Cruz said the two are spending the last weeks of the administration’s term “wreaking havoc domestically and abroad,” by pursuing “actions… designed to weaken and marginalize Israel, and to embolden its enemies.”
“These acts are shameful. They are designed to secure a legacy, and indeed they have: history will record and the world will fully understand Obama and Kerry as relentless enemies of Israel,” Cruz wrote Wednesday on social media.
“It is a sign of their radicalism and refusal to defend American interests, that Obama and Kerry choose to attack the only inclusive democracy in the Middle East — a strong, steadfast ally of America — while turning a blind eye to the Islamic terrorism that grows daily,” he said.
Kerry’s speech on Wednesday, in which he described the settlements as a centrol obstacle to achieving an agreemnt and warned that the two-state solution was “in serious jeopardy,” was slammed as “disgraceful” by Cruz, who also argued that the remarks will “enflame rising anti-Semitism in Europe,” “encourage the [Iranians] mullahs who hate Israel and hate America” and facilitate the “growing legal assaults on Israel through transnational legal fora.”
Unfortunately, Mr. Kerry is being less than accurate here – except for President Carter no such resolutions have been allowed to pass. In the bolded section above Mr. Kerry is referring to UNSC Res. 1515, which endorsed the so-called Road Map. But the freeze called for in the first phase of the Road Map was temporary, and depended on the Palestinians living up to their commitments under the plan, which they manifestly failed to do.
In the next paragraph of his speech Mr. Kerry was just as inaccurate:
Let me read you the lead paragraph from a New York Times story dated December 23rd. I quote: “With the United States abstaining, the Security Council adopted a resolution today strongly deploring Israel’s handling of the disturbances in the occupied territories,” which the resolution defined as including Jerusalem. All of the 14 other Security Council members voted in favor. My friends, that story was not written last week. It was written December 23rd, 1987, 26 years to the day that we voted last week, when Ronald Reagan was president.
Mr. Kerry is here referring to Res. 605, which said nothing at all about settlements or their alleged illegality and that is what the present controversy is all about. In other words, Res. 605 offers no support whatsoever for Mr. Kerry’s claims.
And since Mr. Kerry brings up President Reagan, let’s recall that Mr. Reagan’s position was that settlements were “not illegal.”
What does it say about the case Mr. Kerry is trying to make that he and his many researchers at the State Department couldn’t come up with better “facts”– like, for example, ones that are actually true?
Amb. Danny Danon rips Kerry over Israel rebuke
Israeli ambassador fires back at Sec. John Kerry
Resolution 2334 Undermines the Legal Baseline Formula for Peace
The traditional legal baseline for the Israeli-Arab peace process is U.N. Security Council resolution 242 of 1967, which included the principle of “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Resolution 242 notably did not include “all” or “the” before the word “territories,” thereby indicating that Israel might not need to withdraw from all such territories. Arthur Goldberg, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, later explained this issue as follows:
Does Resolution 242 as unanimously adopted by the U.N. Security Council require the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from all of the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 war? The answer is no. In the resolution, the words the and all are omitted. Resolution 242 calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict, without specifying the extent of the withdrawal. The resolution, therefore, neither commands nor prohibits total withdrawal. If the resolution is ambiguous, and purposely so, on this crucial issue, how is the withdrawal issue to be settled? By direct negotiations between the concerned parties. Resolution 242 calls for agreement between them to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement. Agreement and acceptance necessarily require negotiations.
Resolution 2334 appears to subtly contribute to the erosion of this understanding that the baseline for peace is not a complete withdrawal by Israel from all territories occupied in 1967. For example, it “underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.” Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, makes a compelling case that resolution 2334 “contains elements that attempt to modify Resolution 242 and to sway the negotiating process in a particular direction.”
Immediately after the UN voted last week to vilify Israel, Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security advisor, held a conference call to argue that the Obama administration was motivated by its “grave concerns” about “the continued pace” of Israeli settlement activities. He asserted that the administration could not “in good conscience” veto the resolution. Here is how Rhodes quantified the administration’s “grave concerns”:
[S]ince 2009, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has increased by more than 100,000 to nearly 400,000. … There are now nearly 900,000 — I’m sorry, 90,000 settlers living east of the separation barrier that was created by Israel itself. And the population of these distant settlements has grown by 20,000 since 2009.
The figure of 100,000 sounds significant until you realize that 80 percent of it has been in the settlement blocs “everyone knows” Israel will retain in any conceivable peace agreement. The 20,000 person increase east of the separation barrier, established to stop the wave of Palestinian mass murders against Israelis, translates into less than one percent of the population in the disputed territories, over a period of eight years.
Finally, let’s imagine it’s true that international pressure would increase Israel’s willingness to accept a settlement freeze and that such a freeze would make it easier for Palestinian negotiators to trust Israel. Even so — and contrary to Obama administration assumptions — branding Israeli claims outside the 1967 boundaries illegal and invalid could have devastating consequences.
Since Palestinian leaders already have trouble justifying to their people the abandonment of territorial claims to Ma’ale Adumim, the Jewish quarter in Jerusalem, and so forth, they will have double the trouble now that the United States has endorsed these demands. What Palestinian leader can sign away territory to which Washington and the Security Council have declared Israelis have no legitimate claim?
Kerry stated plainly that Israel is to blame for the demise of the two-state process, and that — unless its leaders listen to counsel — Israel will not survive as both a Jewish and a democratic state. Now that the administration’s views are crystal clear, pundits should spare us the back and forth on whether its eleventh-hour obsessions are good for peace – no one as smart as Obama or Kerry can possibly believe that it is.
The more interesting question, sure to be the focus of congressional hearings next year, is why the administration used its last few weeks to damage relations with Israel.
David Harris: Dear Secretary Kerry
One of your six principles was resolution of the Palestinian refugee question. I waited for you to add in that section some reference to the Jewish refugee question, but, alas, there was none.
Mr. Secretary, as you know, there were two, not one, refugee populations created by the Arab-Israeli conflict, and they were of roughly equal size. Just because one has been kept alive by UNRWA and the absence of any mandate to resettle refugees (and, I’d add, their descendants in perpetuity), while the other has been dealt with by people who refused to be instrumentalized and chose to move on with their lives, the tragedy – and the claims – of both populations require attention.
Finally, like you and the late Shimon Peres, I refuse to give up on the future. I’ve seen enough political miracles in my lifetime to convince me that historic change is possible – for starters, the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa; Israeli peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan; French-German reconciliation; the collapse of the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain; democracy restored in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile; and the rescue of millions of Jews from the USSR.
But coming from a family that experienced directly the scourges of Communism, Nazism, and jihadism, I know that we must have the capacity not only to imagine the best, but also to fear the worst.
Many Israelis and their supporters have similar family backgrounds. When developments warrant, the Israelis act. They have in the past. They will again. Enduring peace is, and always has been, their highest priority.
For that to happen, however, they need to believe there are committed leaders on the other side of the bargaining table prepared to negotiate in good faith. Alas, sadly, it remains to be seen if that will prove the case anytime soon.
Chuck Schumer, the senior US senator from New York likely to become the next Senate Minority Leader, issued a scathing statement on Wednesday night rebuking US Secretary of State John Kerry over his closing remarks on Middle East peace.
Kerry delivered a speech earlier in the day that lasted over an hour, in which he warned that a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians was in grave jeopardy. Much of his speech focused on Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem, which he characterized as creating an “irreversible one-state reality.”
“While Secretary Kerry mentioned Gaza in his speech, he seems to have forgotten the history of the settlements in Gaza, where the Israeli government forced settlers to withdraw from all settlements and the Palestinians responded by sending rockets from Gaza into Israel,” Schumer said, seemingly mocking the outgoing secretary of state. “This is something that people of all political stripes in Israel vividly remember.”
“While he may not have intended it, I fear Secretary Kerry, in his speech and action at the UN, has emboldened extremists on both sides,” Schumer added.
Schumer last week was harshly critical of the Obama administration for choosing to abstain from a vote on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement enterprise, allowing it to pass.
Israel was not alone in criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Wednesday. PLO Executive Committee member Mustafa Barghouti issued a three-point rejection of Kerry’s six-point peace plan, indicating how far from compromise the Palestinian leadership remains on the core issues.
Although Barghouti, unlike Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, accepted Kerry’s focus on “settlements” as the crux of the problem, he said that “the concluding principles were not something we could agree with.”
“First, you cannot make the issue of Palestinian refugees only an issue of compensation.” He also insisted on the claimed “right of return,” something which Israeli leaders have agreed to only in token numbers at most.
“Second, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would deny the right of the Palestinian people who are citizens of Israel and that is totally unacceptable. Israel cannot be Jewish and democratic at the same time,” Barghouti said.
Netanyahu reiterated after Kerry’s speech that recognition of the Jewish state by the Palestinians was more fundamental to a permanent settlement than the issue of borders.
“Third, his formula about Jerusalem is absolutely something that the Palestinians cannot accept. It must be clear that Jerusalem is east Jerusalem according to 1967 lines. East Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine. How can it be a capital of two states,” Barghouti concluded, saying that compromises to the 1967 borders cannot be tolerated.
Less than 24 hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry was set to deliver his farcical “Mideast Peace” speech, UN Security Council permanent seat holder Russia pre-emptively struck down a US proposal aimed at brokering an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The US had that the Mideast Quartet (the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia) would adopt a universal set of principles that would set the parameters for future negotiations involving the Jewish State and Palestinian representatives.
But Russia wasn’t going to let the United States, a country that has taken a back seat in Mideast affairs by ceding Syrian airspace to the Russian air force, dictate the terms of engagement.
In Russia’s eyes, the US is no longer a power broker in the region.
That’s why Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the US ‘thanks, but no thanks’ on Tuesday night when America’s chief diplomat outlined the US position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Lavrov stressed the necessity of creating conditions for direct talks between the leaders of Israel and Palestine and warned against bringing US’ domestic agenda into the work of the Middle East Quartet and the United Nations Security Council,” according to Russia’s Tass news agency. “He stressed that attempts to use these formats in bickering between the Democrats and Republicans are harmful.”
Russia and other countries sympathetic to the Palestinian cause have worked hard to ensure that the Mideast Quartet penalizes Israel at every turn.
Secretary of State John Kerry used the word “conscience” over and over again as he attempted to explain and justify the Obama administration’s decision not to veto a one-sided UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel. He added that the US could not “stand idly by” while Israel torpedoed any hope for a two-state solution.
The Obama Administration knows all about standing “idly by” – that was its all-but- explicit policy toward other troubles in the Middle East. Obama came into office with one foreign policy lodestar – Not George Bush – and has stuck with it mulishly no matter how much the facts on the ground demanded flexibility. An Obama official dubbed it “leading from behind” and, according to a well-placed journalist, Obama himself used the term “don’t do stupid [expletive].”
And so, when Syrian strongman Bashar Assad massacred up to 400,000 people by dropping barrel bombs on civilian neighborhoods, shelling hospitals, and imposing sieges of cities to starve out the inhabitants, the Obama administration stood very, very idly by. Even after warning Assad that the use of chemical weapons would trigger a US response, Obama did nothing when Assad called his bluff.
When ISIS was rampaging through northern Iraq and southern Syria, beheading, crucifying, and burning people alive, the Obama administration stood idly by.
“There are 2.75 million Palestinians living in the West Bank,” Kerry thundered, without explaining why their misfortune is more urgent than that of 4.8 million Syrian refugees who are living in Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, and various European countries. An additional 6.6 million Syrians are internally displaced and desperately in need of assistance. The Palestinian refugees (the term is absurd after 68 years) are the only “refugees” in the world who have a United Nations program devoted exclusively to them (UNRWA) – which may be one reason they remain stateless.
The Obama administration would veto any UN resolution that dictated a peace solution or recognized a Palestinian state, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said Wednesday.
Rhodes was speaking hours after Secretary of State John Kerry strongly criticized Israel’s decision to build settlements in the West Bank, saying it was ruining the prospect of a Palestinian state.
“So just to be clear here, when (Kerry) says, ‘These are not the choices we will make,’ which is kind of vague, is he saying that the US would veto any resolution in the UN which might dictate a peace solution or might recognize a Palestinian state?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Rhodes on “The Lead.”
“Yes,” Rhodes responded. “We’ve made that clear over and over, Jake.”
Rhodes continued, “We are focused on this one because the current trends on the ground, particularly the current Israeli settlement activity, is making a two-state solution potentially impossible and creating a reality where essentially what you have is a one-state solution where the West Bank is repeatedly occupied by Israeli settlements.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Kerry warned that a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is “now in serious jeopardy.” He also defended the US decision last week to abstain from a vote on a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Ruthie Blum: John Kerry’s Moral Turpitude
First he lied about the role the United States played in advancing UN Resolution 2334, which was adopted by the international body’s Security Council last Friday. Then he defended his administration’s decision to abstain in the vote, rather than veto it, by claiming that the move was “in accordance with American values.” He even raised his voice when declaring that the United States under President Barack Obama has never permitted the delegitimization of, or boycotts against, Israel – both of which the resolution enables and promotes. Just ask the Palestinians, who not only lauded it in general, but stated outright that it paved the way not only for divestment and sanctions, but for lawsuits at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. And they’re right.
Far worse was the underlying message of Kerry’s tirade, however: that Jews building apartments in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem prevent the Palestinians from being able to believe that Israel is acting in good faith when it says that its ultimate aim is to achieve a two-state solution. More egregious still, he attributed the stalemate in negotiations to wrongdoing on “both sides,” with an emphasis on Israel. Attributing the situation to the “extremist” right-wing government in Jerusalem – as opposed to the terror masters in Ramallah and Gaza – he professed great love for Israel, while chastising it for bad behavior. He warned that Israel could not remain both Jewish and democratic without returning to the 1967 borders and sharing its capital with the Palestinian state that would have been established by now had it not been for settlements. This, after admitting that settlements aren’t really the key obstacle to a peace treaty.
But the most outrageous and telling moment in Kerry’s address was when he said that while Israelis celebrate Independence Day each year, the Palestinians mourn the “Nakba” – the catastrophe of the founding of the Jewish state in 1948. Yes, without blinking an eye, he acknowledged what the Palestinian leadership has been saying all along – that the problem is not the “occupation” of territories that Arab states lost in the 1967 Six-Day War, but rather the existence of Jews on any inch of the land, from Metulah to Eilat. This is what Hamas etches in Jewish blood at every opportunity, and what the Fatah honchos in the Palestinian Authority regularly make clear through official political and cultural channels. In other words, though Israel cannot and will not agree to a state along what the late statesman Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz borders,” it doesn’t really matter anyway, because the Palestinians are dreaming not of 1967, but of 1947 – when the Arabs then, too, refused a plan for partition.
We’ve covered the back and forth today, from John Kerry’s angry policy speech putting most of the blame on Israel for failure to reach an agreement on the final status of the dispute, to Bibi Netanyahu’s equally blistering rebuttal.
The rallying around Israel and Netanyahu by politicians on both sides of the aisle is a reflection of both ideological support for Israel and the fact that Israel remains hugely popular among the American public. The maligned “Israel Lobby” consists of a substantial majority of Americans who not only support Israel, but support Israel over the Palestinians. The American people are the Israel Lobby.
But that can’t explain the reaction against Obama’s U.N. move.
It reminds me of something I explored several years ago. One of the reasons Netanyahu has been so popular in the U.S. is that Netanyahu and so many of us share a common experience. Obama’s treatment of Netanyahu came to symbolize how many Americans felt they were treated.
Obama has been dismissive, even derisive of Netanyahu almost like no other foreign leader, much less a leader of an ally.
Former Obama administration envoy to the Middle East, Dennis Ross, characterized outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Wednesday as something America’s top diplomat “had to get off of his chest.”
In a parting shot weeks before he is due to leave office, Kerry focused much of his speech on Israel’s settlement activity, which he characterized as creating an “irreversible one-state reality.”
“Part of the problem with the Kerry approach is that it’s an all or nothing approach – and the problem with an all or nothing approach is that is always produces nothing,” Ross told Army Radio on Thursday.
Ross, who himself had engaged much effort in the peace process, maintained that the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian peace was at “the lowest ebb since I’ve been working on this in the terms of the level of disbelief on both sides.”
Congress must eliminate all funding to the UN after the Security Council passed anti-Israel Resolution 2334, said the World Council of Independent Christian Churches’ envoy to the world body.
“We are calling on President-elect Donald Trump, upon his first order of business on January 21, 2017, to call upon Congress to cut all funding to the UN and to immediately begin the process of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, to her biblical, ancient capital, Jerusalem,” said Laurie Cardoza-Moore late Wednesday.
Cardoza-Moore is president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations and UN special envoy for the World Council of Independent Christian Churches, which represents over 40 million congregants worldwide.
Security Council Resolution 2334 declared that Israel’s settlements had no legal validity, and that many of the country’s ancient sites were in “occupied territory.”
Australia would likely have voted against United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements, the country’s foreign minister indicated Thursday.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Julie Bishop stressed that Canberra is not currently a member of the Security Council and therefore could not vote on the resolution. However, she added, “in voting at the UN, the Coalition government has consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel.”
The controversial resolution determined that Israel’s establishment of settlements anywhere outside the pre-1967 lines “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” It did not distinguish between the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Bishop, known to be a staunch supporter of Israel, urged both Israelis and Palestinians to refrain from steps that damage the prospect for peace and to “resume direct negotiations for a two-state solution as soon as possible.”
The most telling hot-mic moment of Barack Obama’s presidency came in March 2012 when he told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”
The topic then was missile defense, but America and the world now see the full ramifications. Whether it’s dusting off an obscure provision to block oil drilling or using the United Nations to betray Israel, this is what maximum flexibility looks like. This is Obama being Obama.
Liberated from the pretense of respecting public consent and no longer forced to calculate the impact on Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Obama is rushing to settle scores and tie Donald Trump’s hands. It is an infuriating exit.
It is also a revealing one. The last-ditch actions help explain not only why Trump won, but also why a course correction was absolutely necessary for the nation. Obama’s cynical schemes are variations of “you can keep your doctor,” and Americans were right to show Democrats the door.
It’s also worth remembering that Obama promised to have Israel’s back, and that’s where he put the knife.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s Wednesday speech on the Israel-Palestinian peace process was “a failed attempt to defend the indefensible,” a leading US pro-Israel group said.
Contrary to Kerry’s claims, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said, the anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution that “the administration unconscionably failed to block [last week] was unfair, unbalanced and represented a profound departure from the policies of previous Democratic and Republican administrations for nearly the past forty years.”
Furthemore, AIPAC noted, “Secretary Kerry placed overwhelming, disproportionate blame for the failure to advance peace on our ally, Israel, while neglecting numerous Israeli peace offers and Palestinian refusal to resume direct talks.”
AIPAC went on to urge Congress and the incoming Trump administration to “renounce the recent action taken by this administration and to begin the work of repairing the damage done to the cause of peace and the US-Israel relationship.”
Hey Mister Secretary! That was a world-class speech you just gave in Paris today. Now that you’re done with your speech, I think it’s time we start to pack your things for the big move. I mean, you know how hard it is to get anything done in DC the week after New Years. What’s that? You say you still have 23 days left in office? I know, I know. Folks in our part of the world are holding a bit of a countdown.
What’s that you say? You’re not finished? There is so much more to do? But you’ve already done so much. Syria. Libya. Iraq. Iran. Ukraine. And with today’s speech, another feather in your cap! So please, let’s at least go through your stuff. Here, I’ll start.
Mister Secretary, let me say I am impressed with your bookshelf. But… Your “Fodor’s Guide to Israel“? Something tells me you won’t be getting a lot of invitations from Israelis to visit. I’m going to put this one in the “Toss” bin.
Your guide to Egypt? Not sure if the invites will be streaming in from there either. Toss.
Wait, here is your 2010 Edition of the “Lonely Planet Guide to Syria.” I see you have the chapters on Aleppo and Palmyra bookmarked. Wait, you say you want to keep it? So….yeah. Maybe you should call your friend Mr. Lavrov on this one. Toss.
OK, here’s one. “A Conde Nast Guide to Europe”! So, it’s just that…demographics…have changed a bit since your Boss’s good old “Red Line” to Assad back in 2013. So yeah. I’d take that trip to Europe in the next couple months if I were you. I’ll put this one in the “Keep” pile. But let me just underline in red ink the neighborhoods in Paris, Berlin and Brussels that you may want to avoid.
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