The walls keep closing in around the Palestinian territories…
And in as close as any US president has come to acknowledging their plight, the Obama administration declined to veto a resolution condemning Israeli settlements that further encroach upon the occupied lands.
The United Nations voted last Friday on the resolution in an event that was closely watched by political insiders. Voicing a clear international consensus, the resolution passed with 14 votes in favor, and only the United States abstaining. The non-vote was notable because it has long been our tradition to shield Israel from the contempt of the International community, a gesture that had been a foregone conclusion until now. The action was indeed calculated, and did not go unnoticed.
The resolution itself is merely symbolic, having no chance of being acknowledged by the Israeli government at all. This was simply a way for the rest of the world to express their concern at expanding Israeli settlements, a policy that is growing more aggressive. It has long been the view of these countries that Israel is the primary obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. This move is bound to increase the strain between Israel and the rest of the UN coalition. These tensions have escalated significantly during the term of current President Benjamin Netanyahu.
The interactive chart below illustrates exactly why the Palestinian people along with the United Nations are so worried about settlements:
This begs the question of whether or not a two state solution is even possible…
Netanyahu summoned the ambassadors to all of the nations who voted against this resolution (that is to say all of them) and proceeded to rake them over the coals. He also ordered his foreign ministry to “re-evaluate ties with the UN.” He is playing for political favor in the US, publicly chastising Obama by going so far as suggesting that the Administration colluded with other nations to make this vote happen. He has instructed his officials to refrain from contact with any nations who approved the resolution until Mr. Trump takes office. He even sent his spokesman onto US media outlets claiming to have “ironclad information” about how the Obama Administration worked to get this resolution voted on. I get the sense that the far right wing in Israel is highly anticipating Trump’s arrival.
And Meanwhile, Back in the States…
President-elect Trump reportedly tried to pressure Obama to veto the bill in an attempt to try and shape policy before entering office. This could be the start of a cozy relationship between the Trump team and the right-wing Likud Party, currently the majority in Israel. Conservative politicians are predictably reacting with contempt towards the president for what they see as a callous disregard for the rights of Israel, which presumably means not acquiescing to their increasing demands for more Palestinian land. The evangelical wing of the Republican party has strong ties to Israel, and will undoubtedly be vocally critical of Mr. Obama’s stance on this issue.
The underlying concern here is the United States’ unrelenting support of Israel. There are historical reasons for this, and those are not without merit. It also behooves us to have a viable democracy as a partner in the Middle East. However, just the fact that abstaining from a vote prompts such an outcry touches on what is an increasingly irrational attitude emanating from the cradle of civilization. I can’t imagine these attitudes subsiding in an increasingly polarized global climate.