The recent resolution of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemning Israel over settlements represents another foreign policy blow for the United States.
It is consistent with this administration’s policy to appease enemies that do not deserve it (e,g Iran and Cuba) , spit in the face of allies, and thus weakening the image of the United States worldwide.
What is the meaning of this security council resolution for Israel and the settlements?
Let us start with the basics. The resolution fails to distinguish between ‘settlements blocs’ and settlements in areas where a Palestinian state is supposed to be created. Former U.S President George W. Bush accepted construction in a set of Jewish settlements next to the 1967 border as long as the scope of settlements does not expand well into the West Bank.
However, the UNSC resolution, supported and initiated by Obama, defines settlements as every piece of territory that was taken by Israel in the war of June 1967. This includes the Western Wall (the holiest site in Judaism), neighborhoods that have been in existence for decades and had no previous Arab presence, and even the Golan Heights. The latter, having nothing to do with the future of a Palestinian state, was taken from Syria during June 1967, and was used by the Syrians before that date to bomb Israeli civilian targets. Nowadays, if Israel withdraws from the Golan, the territory is likely to fall in the hands of the Iran-backed murderous Bashar Al Assad, or worse, in the hands of the radical Islamist group Al Nusra (now controlling Syrian territory next to the Golan).
On the other hand, the resolution demands nothing from the Palestinians. In the past, peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians failed not because of settlements but because the Palestinian leadership refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state by requiring the so –called “right of return” of three million Palestinians to Israel proper. That proposal is not a formula for peace but a formula for the continuation of war.
Very much in contrast to the Palestinians, Israel offered solutions in the past by offering generous concessions that included withdrawal from most of the West Bank, the creation of a Palestinian state, and agreement to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians. Israel also unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip and dismantled the Jewish settlements in the area.
This unbalanced resolution ignores these past painful and risky Israeli concessions, contemptuously rejected by the Palestinian leadership. Furthermore, the resolution failed to include the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and abandon the “right of return.”
After Egypt backed off from introducing the resolution at the request of the U.S, Vice-President Joe Biden proceeded to recruit other sponsors. He called the Ukraine first, a country that still has serious problems recognizing its population’s collaboration with the anti-Semitic Nazi murderous machine and has even honored a Ukrainian militia that murdered Jews during WWII. The other three were New Zealand, Malaysia, and Venezuela. Malaysia is a country that has refused to recognize Israel and whose former president made statements supporting theories of a Jewish conspiracy. Venezuela has adopted an open anti-American ideology, has cooperated with Iran and Hezbollah and its political and military elite are heavily involved in drug trafficking. Moreover, Venezuela is a massive violator of human rights whose policies have led to the starvation of its population
What kind of message is the United States sending to its enemies when we it makes alliances against its own ally?
This kind of resolution has been long supported by France. France’s foreign policy towards the Middle East is mainly motivated by the desire to diminish the status and influence of the United States and increase its own. Israel is considered to be a U.S ally and an easy political target.
As an example, for France, that resolution constitutes a tremendous political victory from their narrow point of view. However, as they face serious terrorist attacks in their own soil, the French have weakened themselves by voting against the country that is at the forefront of the fight against the kind of terrorism that now they themselves are facing.
However, despite the stupidity displayed by the French, their weakness is our problem too. A defenseless West also exposes America and its citizens to danger and risk. If our western allies are not strong enough, we will collapse and be hung with them.
The Russians and the Chinese provide political backing to their allies such as Syria, Iran or even North Korea. The West does not.
What is now needed is a strong American leadership that can provide a sense of common purpose to the West as a whole. The U.S needs to set the tone as well as take the initiative and leadership in the West, in order to defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas and reduce the power of rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela. Such leadership needs to be expanded to other countries including Latin American countries with significant potential such as Brazil and Argentina.
The anti-Israel UNSC resolution is a problem that transcends Israel. The challenge ahead for President–elect Donald Trump is huge, but the opportunity to make substantial change happen is there too.