MUCH is being made of US President Barack Obama’s decision not to veto a UN Security Council resolution declaring what the whole world already believes: Israel’s settlements violate international law.
Israel’s extremist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to withdraw from the UN body. Obama’s critics have slammed him as “anti-Semitic.” The pro-peace movement of Arabs and Jews has hailed the move as a step forward. US President-elect Donald Trump warned the vote makes it harder to negotiate a final peace.
It is none of that, of course. All the praise and criticism is just a manifestation of the lack of will from the US and even the Arab and Muslim worlds to end the conflict by creating a Palestinian state. What is the point of an abstention? Maybe it was little more than a personal shot by Obama against Netanyahu. Their rivalry has received much attention, even though Obama has spent eight years doing everything for Israel and blocking Palestinian aspirations.
Compare Obama to his predecessor George W. Bush. The latter abstained on six pro-Palestinian resolutions, and just before leaving office failed to veto a resolution demanding Israel end its military assault on the Gaza Strip.
Despite the emotional histrionics of pro-Israel fanatics such as the Zionist Organization of America, many members of the US Congress and much of the American news media, the resolution was so watered down you have to wonder why anyone cares.
The irony is a reflection of consistent hypocrisy in US politics when it comes to Israel. No one really reads the resolution. The mainstream American news media simply reports assertions and distortions spun by Israel’s sophisticated and effective multimillion-dollar public relations campaign.
America’s former UN Ambassador John Bolton, for example, has asserted the resolution calls Israel’s occupation “illegitimate,” but the word is nowhere to be found in the resolution text. All the resolution does is repeat past policies that even the US has supported. You cannot occupy a territory and expel its people, take their lands and create your own colonies (settlements), as Israel is doing in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The resolution urges Israel to abide by legal agreements it signed as a sovereign nation and UN member, and warns that settlements undermine the chances for peace. However, the resolution also condemns all acts of violence and terrorism by both sides, including the Palestinians.
That the US only abstained from supporting those fundamental principles, instead of voting in favor of the resolution, should be shocking to every American. Are those not the very principles that the US represents as a democracy and leader of the “free world?”
To the American media, Israel’s defenders and the US Congress, truth is irrelevant when dealing with Israel’s atrocities. I urge readers to read UN Resolution 2334 and compare it to what is being said and reported. It does not challenge Israel’s right to exist, nor deny its sovereignty in the pre-1967 borders.
Immediately after the adoption of the resolution, Netanyahu announced plans to massively increase Jewish-only settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. Settlement expansion exposes the fundamental fact that Israel does not want peace, it wants the land. It also serves as a reminder of the impotency of the Arab world, which has been in a political coma since the peace process began in the 1970s.
The Arab and Muslim worlds have condemned Israel’s violations, but have done nothing to prevent them. Instead, they have expanded political and economic relations with Israel. In a way, their response reflects the bipolar policies of the Obama administration, which has put a critical spotlight on Israel’s resistance to peace, while at the same time strengthening Israel with billions in military aid, political support and technology.
How can you support peace and the two-state solution when you continue to expand settlements? The inconsistency of criticism and a lack of action have become a shield for Israel. It can do what it wants. Netanyahu understands something Arabs and Muslims do not: Once Palestinians have a sovereign state, there will be no stopping Palestinian empowerment. Sovereignty of a state, not its size, gives that state its international integrity.
A Palestine recognized by the UN and the world as a sovereign state is a much more powerful victim of brutality than the Palestine that it is today, with no recognized borders or independent government.
If Obama really wanted to make a statement, he would support a UN Security Council resolution recognizing Palestine as a sovereign state. That would dramatically change Israel’s actions, elevating them from occupation to invasion, and opening them up to far more significant war crimes charges and international sanctions.
Many Palestinians view a “mini-state” as their own destruction, but no one ever said Palestinian activists are smarter than their Israeli rivals. Palestinian rejectionism has also strengthened Israel’s own extremism, and made it easy for Israel to prevent a two-state solution.
Israel and the US have transformed that solution into a bipolar two-policy disintegration that allows Israel to expand without accountability or paying a price. Regardless of how one feels, Obama will be remembered not for what he did, but for what he failed to do.
—Courtesy: Arab News