Many view the decision of the United States not to exercise its veto against UN Security Council Resolution 2334 as the last attempt by President Obama in the death throes of his presidency to score a point against Bibi. White House protestations to the contrary are not taken seriously.
The Resolution is flawed on a number of counts. It demands “that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”. Presumably that means that Israel has no right to build in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City or in the Jerusalem suburbs of Gilo and French Hill.
While those areas are termed “occupied”, the inability of the Resolution to distinguish between such neighborhoods and isolated settlements and outposts on the West Bank is unhelpful. No Israeli government would ever relinquish those areas and it is foolhardy to even suggest that she should. The sloppy wording of the Resolution only goes to show how far those who voted for it are removed from the facts on the ground.
No less problematic is the unwillingness of those who formulated the Resolution to address Palestinian misdemeanors. It is simply not good enough to condemn “all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction” without specifically naming the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas.
Hamas runs military training “summer camps” for children in the Gaza Strip and has rained down missiles on Israeli civilian targets, while the PA names town squares and football teams after shahidim, who have murdered and maimed thousands of Israeli civilians. When Palestinian terrorists are incarcerated in Israeli prisons, the PA grants their families stipends. Children are taught in PA schools that the day will come when they will return to Haifa and Jaffa. That is not how you build an infrastructure for peace.
However, the Palestinians do not hold a monopoly on fantasies. Settlers who call the West Bank “Judea and Samaria” live under the illusion that we have the right to settle in all of the land that was promised to our ancestor Abraham and in which our forefathers lived over 3,000 years ago. When the Jewish National Fund distributes collection boxes depicting an Israel extending from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea they simply feed that delusion. Building and expanding settlements cannot help Palestinians believe that Israel really supports a territorial compromise.
If the truth be told, neither the Israelis by and large nor the Palestinians are prepared to forgo their expansionist fantasies and recognize that both sides will have to put their dreams aside if they are to live in peace.
A joint Israeli Palestinian poll recently showed that nearly 60 percent of both Israeli Jews and Palestinians were against a permanent status agreement based on previous Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
If the truth be told, both sides are headed by leaders unable and unwilling to pay the price that a comprehensive settlement would require. Prime Minister Netanyahu panders to the settlers and stands at the head of a Likkud whose coalition is more right-wing than any government that Israel has ever known.
Meanwhile, President Abbas is ever fearful that Hammas will displace the PA on the West Bank. Like Netanyahu, he cannot afford to be perceived of as favoring compromise. The rise of Islamism and Al-Qaeda has only served to increase anxiety about the threats that surround us and have created an atmosphere in which Israel is unlikely to take risks.
And that is the political context in which the United Nations Security Council has seen fit to castigate Israeli policy with regard to settlements. The PA is delighted with the outcome of a vote from which the United States chose to abstain. Israel’s enemies are rubbing their hands with glee that she has been given a bloody nose. However, the Resolution is ultimately futile and won’t contribute one iota to solving the Israel/Palestinian conflict. On the contrary, it will make some Israelis wonder what Obama really meant when he said “I’ve got your back”.