One raw deal for Israel

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One raw deal for Israel

US ought to have vetoed the UN resolution

By abstaining from voting, the United States, in the twilight of the Obama Administration, has allowed a stern United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution demanding that Israel halt settlements in Palestinian territory, be passed. Although the move shouldn't be surprising given the chill that had over the years developed between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, it is rare for the US to be complicit in embarrassing its long-time ally at the United Nations.

The US could have participated in the voting and used its veto power to prevent the censure, but it did not. Secretary of State John Kerry's explanation that his country had acted to preserve the idea of a long-standing “two state” objective, and that of US Ambassador to UN Samantha Power, that the settlement problem was jeopardizing a resolution based on the two-state concept, is not going to cut ice with those who will view the recent US action as a betrayal of a valuable ally and a deviation from long-standing US foreign policy. The US veto was essential since the other 14 members had all endorsed the resolution condemning Israel over the resettlement policy. The resolution's text was a huge indictment of Israel (and loaded with bias), and it's strange that the US should have allowed it to go through by looking the other way. The text called for Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”, and added that it (should) “fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard”. It was so lopsided.

It's true that the resolution will not change anything on the ground as regards the establishment of peace is concerned. On the contrary, it will only harden Israel's position and make it less amendable to reconciliation. This is reflected in Israel's Permanent Representative to the UN, Danny Danon's response:  “Neither the Security Council nor Unesco can sever the tie between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.” It's difficult to judge at this point whether the majority of Americans view their country's latest action favourably, but at least one person does not, and he is determined to course-correct at the first available opportunity: President-elect Donald Trump. He had earlier sought to pressure the Obama regime to veto the resolution, but came under fire for trying to act like President when he still wasn't. He had tweeted that the resolution had “put Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis”. Trump has also said that once he becomes President, such decisions would end: “As to the UN, things will be different after January 20” (the day he takes charge).

While that is to be seen, there is no doubt that at least some amount of warmth which the American and the Israeli leaderships had shared in the past, is likely to be restored. The Israelis can console themselves with the fact that the development has come towards the end of the Obama rule and at a point when a new UN Secretary-General steps in. Envoy Danon made it clear that Israel considers the development as only a temporary setback, when he remarked that he was confident the “new US administration and the incoming UN Secretary-General will usher in a new era”. 

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