[Vision2020] Fwd: Has Obama "Betrayed" Israel at the UN? (12/28/16)
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Wed Dec 28 21:15:33 PST 2016
[image: The National Interest]
Published on *The National Interest* (http://nationalinterest.org)
Home <http://nationalinterest.org/> > Has Obama "Betrayed" Israel at the UN?
Has Obama "Betrayed" Israel at the UN?
Henry Siegman <http://nationalinterest.org/profile/harry-siegman>
Has America’s president betrayed Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and members of his government bitterly accused after President
Obama failed to veto a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israel
for its settlements in the West Bank?
True, President Obama told the international community in his address to
the UN General Assembly in 2011 that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement
can only be achieved by the parties themselves, not by outside imposition.
Obama, a former editor of the *Harvard Law Review*, surely knows the notion
that international bodies have no role in the resolution of international
conflicts to be entirely spurious, particularly when applied to a
belligerent occupation that has been in place for half a century. It is an
argument he presumably made to provide Netanyahu more time to advance a
two-state agreement with the Palestinians without outside intervention, in
the expectation, based on Netanyahu’s previous solemn promises, that he
would do so.
Obama’s argument against outside intervention, in generous support of
Netanyahu, should have persuaded Netanyahu to halt Israel’s settlement
expansion and prove to the world that outside intervention is not necessary
to advance the peace process. Instead he doubled down on the expansion of
Israel’s settlements, proving to the world that a two-state solution will
not happen without such intervention.
Netanyahu’s “*j’accuse*” against Obama and his administration is a
concoction of the lies and deceptions that have characterized Israel’s
defense of its settlement project from the outset.
The Security Council resolution did not contain any reference whatever to
terms for a permanent status negotiation (as necessary as such provisions
actually are), and therefore did not violate President Obama’s strictures
against outside imposition of terms for an agreement. The resolution was
limited to a reconfirmation of the flagrant illegality of the settlements
in the Occupied Territories and of the changes made unilaterally by Israel
to the internationally-recognized pre-1967 border.
Netanyahu lost whatever right he might have thought he had to President
Obama’s and the world’s trust when he shamelessly and unapologetically
reversed himself and declared publicly during the last Israeli national
elections that he would not allow a Palestinian state to come into
existence as long as he is Israel’s prime minister. For good measure, he
added that he would not remove even a single Jewish settlement, no matter
how remote its location from the pre-1967 border, even though such
settlements were placed there to block the possibility of a Palestinian
Netanyahu and his fellow ministers are accusing President Obama of having
violated President George W. Bush’s promise to support Israel’s retention
of certain settlement blocs adjoining the pre-1967 border. They have
claimed for some time now that President Bush’s commitment allows them to
enlarge construction in these settlement blocs to their heart’s content.
This is a bald-faced lie. Both in his letter to Prime Minister Sharon and
in his subsequent references to that letter, *President Bush*
said clearly that his support for Israel’s retention of certain settlement
blocs would come into play only when negotiations of the major permanent
status issues took place. In 2006, *Condoleezza Rice told Israel’s foreign
minister Tzipi Livni*
<https://2001-2009.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/60746.htm>, “the President
did say that *at the time of final status* it will be necessary to take
into account new realities on the ground that have changed since 1967, but
under no circumstances… should anyone try and do that in a pre-emptive or
predetermined way, because these are issues for negotiation at final
status.” [Emphasis added]
Another lie is Netanyahu’s and his fellow ministers’ criticism of Obama for
his acceptance of a resolution that refers to Israel’s settlements as
“illegal,” instead of “illegitimate”—the euphemism Obama’s administration
has used until now.
Israel’s government knows there is no real difference between these two
terms—if settlements were legal, they would also be legitimate. They also
know that it was Israel’s legal advisor to its ministry of foreign affairs
Theodor Meron who ruled in a *formal communication*
September 18, 1967, immediately following the 1967 war, that “civilian
settlement in the administered territories contravene explicit provisions
of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” and that the prohibition against such
settlements is “categorical and not conditional upon the motives of the
transfer or its objectives.”
The biggest lie of all has been Netanyahu’s claim to support a two-state
solution. His scam should have been obvious to our diplomats from the get
go. Why? Because he never presented the two-state idea for formal approval
to any of the four governments he has headed. Because the official platform
of the Likud opposes Palestinian statehood anywhere in Palestine. And
because most ministers who form Netanyahu’s government are members of a
parliamentary caucus—the largest in Israel’s Knesset—whose official mandate
is the prevention of Palestinian statehood anywhere in Palestine.
Is it not high time for Israel’s public to wake up to Netanyahu’s
deceptions? The countries that voted for this Security Council resolution
are not anti-Semitic outliers. They included every major democratic country
that belongs to the Security Council. Not one of them voted for the Zionism
is Racism resolution, to which Netanyahu so demagogically compared this
resolution. Are UK Prime Minister Theresa May or German Chancellor Angela
Merkel, whose foreign minister warmly welcomed the Security Council’s
action, anti-Semites? It was only yesterday that Netanyahu boasted of his
friendship with Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi Jinping, who voted for the
resolution. Are they now Israel’s enemies?
If there has been a betrayal in this latest chapter of America’s relations
with Israel, it is Netanyahu who has betrayed President Obama. The Obama
administration has done more than any of its predecessors to assure
Israel’s security. The tragedy is that everything that President Obama and
his predecessors have done to protect Israel’s security will have been for
naught as Netanyahu’s mad drive with the settlements towards an apartheid
regime threatens to end Israel’s existence as a democratic and Jewish
state, something its enemies could not have achieved on their own.
With President-elect Trump and his newly appointed far-right,
settlement-promoting ambassador-designate to the Jewish state cheering
Netanyahu on, that apartheid outcome is now clearly in sight.
*Henry Siegman is President Emeritus of the U.S./Middle East Project. He is
a former senior fellow on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign
Relations and formerly headed the American Jewish Congress and the
Synagogue Council of America.*
S.(Ghazi) Ghazanfar, Ph.D., Economics Prof. [(1968-02), Emeritus, 2002;
Dept.Chair-79-81/93-02; Director, In'l Studies-89-93; Adj.Prof.03-08;
Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83843-USA]
Acworth, GA 30101 (Ph.770-575-2994)
Albert Einstein: "Science without religion is lame; religion without
science is blind"
Aldous Huxley: "By selective information, or lack of information, we
create a new paradigm."
Voltaire: "Identify the real rulers of a country? Ask: who it is that
one can't criticize?"
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.
“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.
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