Obama's Fitting Finish - Brett Stephens
Barack Obama ’s decision to abstain from, and therefore allow, last week’s vote to censure Israel at the U.N. Security Council is a fitting capstone for what’s left of his foreign policy. Strategic half-measures, underhanded tactics and moralizing gestures have been the president’s style from the beginning. Israelis aren’t the only people to feel betrayed by the results.
[Wall Street Journal]
Obama’s war against America - Caroline Glick
By leading the gang rape of Israel, Obama undermined the rationale for American power. If US agrees that Israel is committing a crime by respecting the civil and human rights of its citizens to live in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, then how can America claim that it has the right to defend its own rights and interests, when those clash with the views of the vast majority of state members of the UN?
Following Obama’s assault on Israel, Senators Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz called for the US to end its financial support for the UN at least until the Security Council abrogates Resolution 2334. They are correct.
Obama's Parting Betrayal of Israel - John Bolton
[O]n the eve of Hanukkah and Christmas, Barack Obama stabbed Israel in the front.
Mr. Obama’s refusal to use Washington’s veto was more than a graceless parting gesture. Its consequences pose major challenges for American interests.
Mr. Obama argues that Resolution 2334 continues a bipartisan American policy toward the Middle East. It does precisely the opposite. The White House has abandoned any pretense that the actual parties to the conflict must resolve their differences. Instead, the president has essentially endorsed the Palestinian politico-legal narrative.
Mr. Trump should unambiguously reject Mr. Obama’s view that Resolution 2334 is justified to save the “two-state solution.” That goal, at best, has been on life-support for years. After Mr. Obama’s provocation, its life expectancy might now be only until Jan. 20. And good riddance. This dead-end vision, by conjuring an imaginary state with zero economic viability, has harmed not only Israel but also the Palestinians, the principal intended beneficiaries.
Far better to essay a “three-state solution,” returning Gaza to Egypt and giving those parts of the West Bank that Israel is prepared to cede to Jordan. By attaching Palestinian lands to real economies (not a make-believe one), average Palestinians (not their political elite), will have a true chance for a better future. Other alternatives to the two-state approach should also be considered.
Mr. Obama loves using the word “pivot” for his ever-changing priorities. It is now up to Mr. Trump to pivot away from his predecessor’s disastrous policies on Israel. Taking up the challenge will be difficult, but well worth the effort for America and its friends world-wide.
[Wall Street Journal]
Democratic Lawmakers Blast UN Resolution
The Obama administration's decision to abstain from a UN Security Council vote on Israeli settlements was the subject of intense opposition from lawmakers in the president's own party. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that the UN resolution "seeks to place responsibility for continued conflict fully on Israel and ignores violence and incitement by Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaderships. Any workable and long-lasting solution to this conflict must come about through direct, bilateral negotiations, and this resolution undermines that effort." Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that "the UN should stop wasting its time trying to embarrass Israel, and the United States should continue the policy of vetoing anti-Israel resolutions."
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), said, "This resolution is one-sided and unfairly calls out Israel without assigning any blame for the Palestinian role in the current impasse." Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) warned that the "resolution would undermine, if not undo, the chances for productive discussions between the two sides." Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) called the resolution "unconstructive." Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) stressed that "any lasting peace must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, not imposed by the international community."
Democrats Scorch Obama over UN Vote - Jeremy Berke
Congressional Democrats issued scathing statements aimed at the Obama administration over the U.S. abstention on [the] UN Security Council vote. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he was "deeply disappointed" that the Obama administration allowed such a "one-sided" resolution to pass. "Actions like this will only take us further from the peace we all want to see." Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said, "I am dismayed that the administration departed from decades of U.S. policy by not vetoing the UN resolution."
Netanyahu: UN Resolution a Call to Arms for Israel's Friends
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "The resolution determines that the Jewish Quarter [in the Old City of Jerusalem] is "occupied territory." This is delusional. The resolution determines that the Western Wall is "occupied territory." This too is delusional....There is also an attempt here, which will not succeed, to impose permanent settlement terms on Israel."
"All American presidents since Carter upheld the American commitment not to try to dictate permanent settlement terms to Israel at the Security Council. And yesterday, in complete contradiction of this commitment, including an explicit commitment by President Obama himself in 2011, the Obama administration carried out a shameful anti-Israel ploy at the UN."
"Last night's resolution is a call to arms for all of our many friends in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, friends who are sick of the UN's hostility toward Israel, and they intend to bring about a fundamental change in the UN. Therefore, this evening I tell you in the language of our sources, the sweet will yet come forth from the bitter, and those who come to curse will yet bless." (Prime Minister's Office)
Obama's Anti-Israel Tantrum - Editorial
The decision by the U.S. to abstain from a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel over its settlements on the West Bank reveals clearly the Obama Administration's animus against the State of Israel itself. No longer needing Jewish votes, Mr. Obama was free, finally, to punish the Jewish state in a way no previous President has done. The resolution will offer support in every European capital, international institution and U.S. university campus to bully Israel.
(Wall Street Journal)
UN Resolution Lets Palestinians Think They Can Bypass Israel Talks
- Alan M. Dershowitz
It is now illegal for Jews to pray at the Western Wall or live in certain Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. These actions require Israelis to enter areas that were captured from Jordan during Israel's defensive war of 1967. According to the Security Council resolution that the U.S. did not veto, any area that was not part of Israel before June of 1967 is now illegally occupied.
This resolution also encourages boycotts of Israeli products manufactured beyond the so-called Green Line, and pressures the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli officials. In addition, the resolution makes illegal Israel's security barrier, which has saved numerous lives.
But the most dangerous consequence of this resolution is that it makes peace much more difficult to achieve because it sends a false message to the Palestinians that they can achieve a state through the UN rather than through direct negotiations with Israel. The Palestinian leadership's refusal to accept Prime Minister Netanyahu's offer to negotiate without preconditions has now been rewarded. They will continue in their rejectionist mode, fortified by this one-sided resolution.
Why did President Obama, in his parting days, tie the hands of his successor? He was certainly not reflecting the will of the people or of Congress. Nor is this an issue on which Israelis are divided. There is no Israeli leader who supports this resolution. This is a sad day for America, for Israel and for the prospects of peace in the Middle East.
The writer is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.
(New York Daily News)
Video - Israeli Ambassador to the UN
"While thousands are being massacred in Syria, this Council wasted valuable time and effort condemning the democratic State of Israel for building homes in the historic homeland of the Jewish people."
"We overcame those decrees during the time of the Maccabees and we will overcome this evil decree today. We have full confidence in the justice of our cause and in the righteousness of our path. We will continue to be a democratic state based on the rule of law and full civil and human rights for all our citizens, and we will continue to be a Jewish state proudly reclaiming the land of our forefathers, where the Maccabees fought their oppressors and King David ruled from Jerusalem."
Reform Rabbis: Abstention "Leaves Us Dismayed, Disappointed and Angry" - David Suissa
The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the U.S., in a statement signed by President Rabbi Denise Eger and Chief Executive Rabbi Steven A. Fox, expressed "strong disagreement" with the UN Security Council resolution, saying that the U.S. abstention "leaves us dismayed, disappointed and angry."
The CCAR concurred with many others that "peace negotiations belong between the two parties involved" and that "the United Nations is not the arena in which to address these complex issues," adding that "the UN's obsessive and relentless criticism of Israel, while ignoring the unspeakable repression committed by illegitimate regimes and terrorist organizations worldwide, falsely and maliciously labels Israel uniquely as a pariah state."
(Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
We Are Not Occupiers in Our Own Land - Nadav Shragai
As Simon the Hasmonean put it some 2,200 years ago: "We have not taken foreign territory or any alien property, but have occupied our ancestral heritage, for some time unjustly wrested from us by our enemies; now that we have a favorable opportunity, we are merely recovering our ancestral heritage" (Maccabees 1, 15:33-34).
Our friends must finally hear that we are not occupiers in our own land, and that we are connected to it with bonds of love, the Bible, heritage and nature; that the settlements in Judea and Samaria, as elsewhere in the Land of Israel, are the realization of justice and natural rights.
The writer, a journalist and commentator at Ha'aretz and Israel Hayom, has documented the dispute over Jerusalem for thirty years.
Rejecting the False Notion that Israel Is an "Occupier" - Alan Clemmons
"Occupier" is nothing more than a polite way of calling Israel a thief, suggesting that Jewish invaders colonized territory belonging to the Arabs, which therefore must be restored to its rightful, victimized owners.
To suggest that the Jews are occupiers in a region that has been known as Judea for over 3,000 years is no less ridiculous than to suggest that Arabs are occupiers in Arabia.The writer, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, was the originating sponsor of the first state anti-BDS legislation in the U.S. in 2015.
From an International Law Perspective, This Is Not an Occupation
- Mark Goldfeder
The president's decision to support the UN resolution was wrong as a matter of law. Article 6 of the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine explicitly encouraged "close settlement by Jews on the land." Legal scholars such as Eugene Kontorovich and Abraham Bell have noted that international law clearly dictates that Israel inherited the boundaries of the Mandate of Palestine as they existed in May 1948. Israel thus has title to the land.
If there was ever an occupation of territory, it happened in 1948 when two invading Arab armies, Jordan (in the West Bank) and Egypt (in Gaza), occupied territory that they had taken through aggressive action that is forbidden under international law. Thus to give meaning to the "pre-67 lines" is to retroactively ratify aggression and support occupation.
In short, Israel was given land under a Mandate that was never repealed, two other countries attacked Israel and squatted on the land for a while, and then, when they attacked Israel again and lost, Israel regained the land it had originally been given. Israel has exclusive title and sovereignty; from an international law perspective, this is not an occupation.
So long as institutions like the UN continue to issue one-sided statements that ignore foundational concepts in international law - pressuring the Israeli leadership to concede more and more while ignoring their previous concessions and failing to hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for their actions - real peace cannot happen.
The writer is a senior lecturer at Emory Law School and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.