These resolutions could prove to be some of the most dangerous yet as analysts speculate whether President Obama might be preparing not only to “abandon” Israel by refusing to veto such resolutions but could even be contemplating supporting such resolutions.
Such actions would be unprecedented in US/Israel relations but some believe Obama has been emboldened by his actions in Iran and Cuba, and that the Palestinian cause could be his final act of legacy to “bring peace” to the Middle East.
“There will be a great temptation to do something in the final year. “For a president who came out faster and more aggressively on the Middle East than any of his predecessors, there is a gnawing sense of incompletion and perhaps even failure,” Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told the New York Times last month.
The State Department confirmed as much last week when it announced that it will consider taking its concerns over Israel’s settlement activity, as well as a general stall in negotiations toward a final-status solution with the Palestinians, to the United Nations Security Council.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down some two years ago, and the Palestinians have struggled to attract international attention as the world focuses on the Syrian civil war, the migrant crisis in Europe and the U.S. presidential election.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas now believes he can take advantage of attending the signing ceremony on Friday at the UN for the climate agreement reached in Paris. Dozens of international politicians are planning to attend the April 22 ceremony and it presents the perfect platform for Abbas to re-launch his diplomatic assault on Israel.
A draft resolution by the Palestinian Authority distributed to UN members last week calls for the immediate resumption of peace talks with Israel and a final status agreement within a year, as well as a complete halt to all Israeli settlement activity “in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem”. It also singles out Israeli settlers for accountability of their “illegal actions”.
Israeli Primie Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has already condemned the UN draft, accusing Abbas of “taking a step that will push negotiations further away.”
For a resolution to pass it needs nine votes from the council’s 15 members. If more than nine votes are received, one of its five permanent members — the US, the UK, China, France and Russia — could still veto the resolution.
China, Russia, Egypt, Malaysia, Senegal, Venezuela and France are already firmly believed to be in the Palestinian camp vis-à-vis the draft resolution. Britain, Angola, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Ukraine and Uruguay are also expected to support the Palestinian proposal based on previous voting patterns and endorsement of the “illegal settlement” position adopted by most of the world. The US remains the only hope for Israel to have the resolution vetoed.
Despite the US vetoing a similar resolution in 2011, it was made clear that the US does not disagree with the resolution’s content but merely take issue with using the Security Council as a tool to advance the stalled peace process.
“Our opposition to the resolution before this council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity,” Susan Rice, then the US’s ambassador to the UN and today Obama’s national security adviser, declared at the time. “On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”