Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a resounding victory at the polls on March 17th. His party Likud will have an expected 30 out of 120 seats in the Knesset, compared to 24 seats for its closest competitor, the Zionist Union. As a result, Mr. Netanyahu is in the strongest position to form a new right-of-center coalition government.
After seeing their hopes for regime change in Israel go up in smoke, Obama administration officials have been attacking what White House spokesman Josh Earnest called Mr. Netanyahu’s “divisive rhetoric” during the election campaign. They did not like that the prime minister rejected a two-state solution as they envision it should be designed. They were unhappy with likely plans by a new Netanyahu government for more settlement construction. And they objected to the prime minister’s last minute efforts to rally his supporters to come to the polls by telling them, in a video posted on social media, that they could lose the election because “Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations.”
Finally, Obama is still smarting from Mr. Netanyahu’s historic speech before a joint session of Congress warning about the perils of the bad nuclear deal with Iran that may be in the offing.
President Obama wants to have as little direct dealings with Prime Minister Netanyahu as possible. He is reportedly ready to outsource the management of the relationship to Secretary of State John Kerry. As one senior administration official was quoted by the New York Times as saying about his peevish boss engaging with the prime minister, “he’s not going to waste his time.” However, Obama did finally get around to calling the prime minister to congratulate him, while reiterating the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution “that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine.”
For his part, Prime Minister Netanyahu has tried since the election to qualify what he had said during the campaign about rejecting a two-state solution outright. He told MSNBC that what he wants is “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution” when the circumstances permit. He told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that the right conditions for such a two-state solution are not achievable just now, citing as one reason security concerns arising from terrorists occupying territory that Israel gives up. He added: “I didn’t retract any of the things I said in my speech six years ago, calling for a solution in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes a Jewish state.”
It may be too late for such qualifications and back-tracking as far as the Obama administration is concerned. It is reportedly leaving the door open to throwing Israel to the wolves in the United Nations.
Indeed, Obama may decide to go along with the Palestinians’ push for a UN Security Council resolution that would codify the Palestinians’ demands, or at least not veto such a resolution. Obama already agrees with much of the demands in substance. His willingness in the past, however reluctant, to block UN Security Council intervention into the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations may well have gone by the wayside, now that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been re-elected. The excuse would be that Mr. Netanyahu has reversed his prior declaration of support for a two-state solution, which leaves no option but to go to the UN Security Council to endorse the principles of a final peace agreement centered on a two-state solution. The problem is what a Security Council-endorsed two-state solution would look like.
The Palestinian resolution, if it is anything like the previous draft resolution that failed to pass the Security Council last December when the U.S. did vote against it, would define the border between Israel and an independent Palestinian state along the pre-June 1967 lines, with minor mutually agreed upon swaps of territory. It would designate “East Jerusalem” as the capital of the Palestinian state. While legitimizing the Palestinians’ demands, such a resolution would provide virtually nothing concrete regarding specific steps to ensure Israelis’ security. And it would still provide the Palestinians the leeway to continue demanding the so-called right of return of millions of so-called refugees to live within the pre-June 1967 Israeli borders.
Turning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over to the UN is akin to turning the fire truck over to the arsonist. The UN institution, all the way up to the top, is pro-Palestinian to the core. That apparently suits Obama just fine, since he sees Israel, particularly Prime Minister Netanyahu, as the main obstacle to peace, just as the UN establishment does.
The UN’s institutional bias against Israel rears its ugly head so often that it is impossible to keep count. Asked for comment on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s election victory, for example, the deputy spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon read a statement on March 18th that put all the onus for reaching a peace agreement on the newly formed Israeli government.
“It’s incumbent on the new Israeli Government,” the statement said, “to create the conditions for a negotiated final peace agreement – with the active engagement of the international community – that will end the Israeli occupation and realize the creation of a viable Palestinian state, living in peace and security alongside Israel.” The statement insisted on the “cessation of illegal settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” adding that the Secretary General “firmly believes this is also the best and only way forward for Israel to remain a democratic state.” Not a single concession was asked from the Palestinian side. Only lip service was given to Israel’s security concerns. And lecturing Israel on how to remain a democratic state was an insult to the Israeli voters – including Arab Israeli citizens – who freely elected their next leader. The Palestinian leadership, on the other hand, remains split between jihadist terrorists in Gaza and a president of the Palestinian Authority who remains in power long after his term expired.
Responding to this one-sided statement, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said:
The United Nations may disagree with the policies of the Israeli government, but there is one fact that can’t be disputed – that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Yesterday Israelis went to the polls and 72% of citizens voted – that’s one of the highest voter turnouts in the world. If the UN is so concerned about the future of the Palestinian people, it should be asking why President Abbas is in the tenth year of a five-year presidential term or why Hamas uses the Palestinian people as human shields.
If President Obama does decide to use the UN Security Council in a cynical effort to undermine Prime Minister Netanyahu, he will be handing the Palestinians a propaganda victory. He will enable the UN to become the instrument of international legitimization of their demands. No concessions would be required on the Palestinians’ part. Indeed, there will be little if anything left to negotiate except the timing of rocket attacks launched against Israeli civilians from the West Bank and how many millions of Palestinians will be permitted to flood pre-1967 Israel so that they can turn Israel into another Lebanon.
On the other hand, unless Israel goes along with the will of the so-called “international community,” as expressed by the Security Council, more European countries and other democratic nations will be persuaded to formally recognize the Palestinian state, perhaps including the Obama administration itself. And the insidious Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement will pick up steam in a worldwide effort to cast Israel in the image of a pariah apartheid state.
If President Obama decides to use the UN to help enable the isolation or surrender of Israel, he will have sabotaged the only democratic, pluralistic state in the Middle East while continuing to coddle the repressive Iranian theocratic regime determined to annihilate the Jewish state. Sadly, that may well be exactly where Obama is headed.