Israel has a Trump Card to Play
In trademark tyrannical fashion, lame-duck President Barack Obama betrayed our historic ally Israel Dec. 23 by instructing the U.S. delegation to abstain on U.N. Security Council’s Resolution 2334—a blatantly one-sided, anti-Israel move. His maneuver ignored the will of the American electorate, the bi-partisan consensus in Congress, and America’s historic record of support for Israel at the United Nations. He also ignored Israeli positions across the political spectrum, and is seen as using the occasion as a personal vendetta against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he did not get along. Arab sources and intelligence even informed Israel that members of the Obama administration secretly colluded with Security Council members to draft and promote the anti-Israel resolution. Unsurprisingly, Obama has placated Israel’s enemies, most of whom prefer terrorism as a means of persuasion, and who would rather see Israel wiped off the map than as a partner at the negotiating table.
Obama’s machinations deliberately undermined his successor President-elect Donald Trump’s clearly voiced intent to help Israel and the Palestinians work toward a negotiated, peaceful solution.
The resolution is fraught with factual and legal inaccuracies. It frequently references the “pre-1967 borders”, which were actually 1949 armistice lines never recognized as international borders by any nation, including the Arabs. Since the West Bank never belonged to a state since the Ottoman Empire, the term “occupied Palestinian territory” is a fiction. The resolution also conflicts with previous U.N. resolutions that call for negotiated settlement between the parties, not a third party, and which establish every nation’s rights to secure, defensible borders. Finally, the Mandate of Palestine that established Israel permits Jewish settlement throughout the territory of the Mandate, which includes the West Bank.
Unfortunately, no future president can undo the Security Council resolution, and it has left little maneuvering room to discuss a final negotiated settlement. Thus the resolution has damaged the prospects for peace. Needless to say, this has been consistent with other Obama foreign policy failures.
While Israel is not bound by the resolution—Netanyahu has already rejected it—American Center for Law and Justice Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow wrote: “The resolution—which references pre-1967 borders several times—would cripple Israel’s sovereignty, weaken its borders, leave it susceptible to false criminal charges at the International Criminal Court, and strengthen the pernicious and ill-conceived Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to delegitimize Israel.”
But now for the good news: The backlash against this shameful resolution has already begun. Netanyahu’s office announced that Israel was “looking forward to working with President-elect Trump and with our friends in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to undo the damage of this absurd resolution.”
The U.S. Congress has also stepped up to the plate. Sen. Lindsey Graham, with support from other congressional leaders, has threatened to punish the resolution’s sponsors and the United Nations with U.S. aid cuts. "This vote will create a backlash in Congress against the UN," Graham said. “The organization is increasingly viewed as anti-Semitic and seems to have lost all sense of proportionality. I will do everything in my power, working with the new administration and Congress, to leave no doubt about where America stands when it comes to the peace process and where we stand with the only true democracy in the Middle East."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the "unified Republican government will work to reverse the damage done by this administration, and rebuild our alliance with Israel."
Of course, President-elect Donald Trump—not Obama—will soon determine how the United States will vote in the United Nations. Trump, who tried unsuccessfully to intervene on Israel’s behalf before the resolution was passed, tweeted: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th,”
If Trump supports slashing U.S. aid to the United Nations, the nations that sponsored the resolution, and the Palestinian Authority, it will be interesting to see how the voting goes, according to the nonprofit Americans for a Safe Israel.
By abstaining, the Obama administration slapped an important card on the table in its game plan against Israel. Israel still has a "Trump" card to play. It may be time to use it.