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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 02/17/2011

The backlash against Obama's U.N. 'compromise' begins

By Jennifer Rubin

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is criticizing the president's gambit in the U.N. to reach a compromise on a statement regarding Israel's settlements. He e-mails me:

This is a classic case of negotiating for the sake of negotiating. The Obama Administration may well produce a slightly less-outrageous draft resolution than the sponsors' original draft, but this is simply putting lipstick on a porcine being. If the United States votes for or abstains on such a resolution, it will reflect a dramatic shift in policy against Israel. If the United States vetoes such a resolution, it will be voting against a "more reasonable" text. The right approach is to say at the outset that the sponsors' approach is fundamentally misguided, and that the only sensible US policy will be to veto. So doing may actually dissuade the sponsors from proceeding, now or in the future, or will at least shorten the period of agitation and agony. American weakness in this type of context only invites further provocation.

Meanwhile, the Orthodox Union is the first major pro-Israel group to push back on the president's gambit to "compromise" on a U.N. resolution condemning Israel for its settlements. The statement includes this:

We write to you on behalf of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation's largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, to urge you to direct your Administration to oppose a resolution that may be brought to the United Nations Security Council which would characterize Israeli "settlement activity" as "illegal" or "illegitimate". Anything short of the United States casting a veto against a resolution containing such language would be a deviation from America's historic support for Israel against assaults at the UN and, we suggest, counterproductive to your Administration's interests and goals in the Middle East.

Assertions that Israeli "settlement activity" is illegal under international law are incorrect as such a position is at variance with United Nations Resolution 242.

Passed in 1967, Resolution 242 calls for Israel to return "territories" captured during its defensive war of 1967. The words "all" and "the" were proposed by those who advocated a complete return, but the U.S. and Great Britain, which opposed that view, prevailed. Even partial return of captured territories is conditioned on "termination of all claims of belligerency" and "acknowledgment of the sovereignty . . . of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." Resolution 242 does not mention the rights of non-states, such as the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or Hezbollah, the latter two of which do not accept the conditions of the resolution. (Nor do Iran and several other states in the region.) . . . .

A Security Council resolution declaring "settlement activity" as "illegitimate" is no better, and no less counterproductive, than a resolution asserting it's illegality. Such phrasing by an authoritative body such as the Security Council is nothing more than semantics. Given the record of animosity toward Israel in the UN and its bodies and the actions and stated intentions of the resolution's proponents, it is clear that a slightly amended text would be used for the same purposes against Israel; to further isolate the Jewish State diplomatically, utilize the UN and other international entities to pressure Israel economically, and ultimately undermine Israel's security.

Bravo to the O.U. Now where are the rest of the pro-Israel groups? And, more to the point, will self-described friends of Israel on the Democratic side confront the president on this issue?

Stay tuned. And, no, I don't think the administration anticipated this reaction or frankly cares all that much about the sentiments of pro-Israel Americans. At a time when Iran is planning on sending ships through the Suez Canal and Israel is faced with great turmoil in its region, the administration has made clear its priorities. And that doesn't include a rock-solid relationship with the Jewish state.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 17, 2011; 10:15 AM ET
Categories:  Israel  
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Next: Thursday feature: A turn to lighter fare

Comments

Would it be too much to ask the wonks in the Obama administration to publicly state that the Palestinians should actually sit down and negotiate with Israel instead of trying every possible dodge to avoid doing so?

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 17, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

How about this as a solution? Israel stops settlement activities, and the U.S. gets back on their side. Why does the U.S. spend credibility to cover Israel's behind, while Israel drags us down with their possibly legal (but clearly immoral) behavior. Banks stole hundreds of billions in wealth from Americans in a legal manner as well. Just because it is legal to screw people over, doesn't make it the right thing to do.

Posted by: billyvw | February 17, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I hope that there’s pushback from most of the Jewish community, morally decent non Jewish Americans and our political class. It can’t be a coincidence that Obama has chosen NOW to squeeze the Jewish state, as Iran sends ships through the Suez Canal, the Muslim Brotherhood has an increasing say in Egypt with the possibility of the Peace treaty ending some day in the near future. Obama’s actions demonstrate that he sides with Israel and America’s enemies, against American interests in the region, and we better push back before it’s too late.

Posted by: *JRapp | February 17, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

JRapp: Friendship is a two-way street. If I had a friend that constantly used my muscle to back him up, and ignored friendly advice on conflict avoidance, they would no longer be my friend.

Posted by: billyvw | February 17, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Israel bends over backwards to accommodate America, far more so than any other of our allies, at the cost of Jewish lives. The Oslo process that began in 1993, the “Road Map,” halting various self defense actions against Hezbollah and Hamas, giving Gaza to the Palestinians, etc., Israel indeed tries to accommodate America. It is simply too much for us to ask that Israel stop building apartments in the Jewish capital, particularly when the UN never demands a damn thing from the Palestinians.

Posted by: *JRapp | February 17, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The US support of Israel is one issue and settlements another but many want to tied them together.
The Outposts and parts of some settlements are illegal even under Israel's laws per Israeli courts but IDF has refused to take action due to political pressure.
UN 242 seems clear when you read it but is vague enough to allow room for negotiations but Israel interpret it for maximum gain.
The 1978 Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt are even clearer but the US has paid Egypt $1.3B per year for over 30yrs to not press the issue.
Over 140 countries are now backing this resolution but if there is a question on what is legal then send the issue to the ICJ court to decide, since that is why it was created to judge matters like this.

Posted by: Bloodyscot | February 17, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Stay tuned. And, no, I don't think the administration anticipated this reaction or frankly cares all that much about the sentiments of pro-Israel Americans. At a time when Iran is planning on sending ships through the Suez Canal and Israel is faced with great turmoil in its region, the administration has made clear its priorities. And that doesn't include a rock-solid relationship with the Jewish state.
*******************************
This comment from Jennifer is so off base as to be absurd. She essentially is suggesting if the Administration does not back every Israeli action unconditionally, we no longer have a "rock-solid" relationship with the country.

I don't know what reality Jennifer is writing these columns from, but in the reality I live in, the US has a good relationship with Israel and is a strong backer of the state.

Posted by: mustangs79 | February 17, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I read Rubin to remind me of just how closed some minds are to Jewish ideals of justice, the interests of the USA, or reality. The lines in this column are those of AIPAC and are therefore 40 years old, based on myths and have been told so often that lies seem like truth. I count on the younger generations, as is so often the case, to leave their elders behind. That is what has happened with racism, segregation, apartheid, women's rights, gay marriage, etc. At some point the elders seem too ignorant to believe and the myths collapse.

Posted by: jj1123 | February 17, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what reality Jennifer is writing these columns from, but in the reality I live in, the US has a good relationship with Israel and is a strong backer of the state.

Posted by: mustangs79
------------------------------

That's the core of it, mustang. The reason why WaPo hired her is to generate site traffic and commentary. The more controversial her reality, the better, as long as it generates views.

I wonder what she'll soon try to boost her numbers. Unabated Obama-bashing and support for Israel don't seem to be enough some days.

Posted by: MsJS | February 17, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Does Beniyyar read the paper? Does he/she really believe the side not negotiating is Palestine? All the documents, both public and private show the Palestinians offering everything while Israel offers nothing but more ethnic cleansing and settlement building. This is the problem, staggering ignorance of these commentators in the face of overwhelming data.

Posted by: jj1123 | February 17, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The Palestinians are still playing a winner takes all game, offering nothing, not even peace, and demanding everything, including flooding Israel with millions of so called Palestinian refugees to destroy the Jewish State.
The whole settlement issue was not even an issue until the Boy Wonder President Obama made it a pre condition for Palestinian Israeli peace negotiations.
Not that even Obama's irresponsible meddling had any really deleterious affect on the negotiations, the Palestinians had already been deliberately and maliciously poisoning the talks ever since they began.

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 17, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Beniyyar: Just answer a question for me. How does expanding the amount of land you need to protect and provoking a foe by evicting people from that land make Israel safer? What game is Israel playing?

Posted by: billyvw | February 17, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

A US veto on this resolution will come at a very high cost for the US, yet no one it talking about that, only the cost to Israel.
Are the Israeli settlement more important than the US economy and foreign polices?
For the US Jewish groups that maybe true but want of most Americans who have not been told of the costs and so do not fully understand only to be blindsided later.

Posted by: Bloodyscot | February 17, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

To MsJS:

You are absolutely correct about increasing traffic for WaPo and discregard the value of article.

As Ms Ashraf who is a Palestanian MP has stated in numerous occasions that "...not only Israel occupies Palestine, but they also occupy Washington". Some believe actualy they occupied Washington first, before occupying Palestine. That is also possible.

Posted by: abraham3 | February 17, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

"Does Beniyyar read the paper? Does he/she really believe the side not negotiating is Palestine? All the documents, both public and private show the Palestinians offering everything while Israel offers nothing but more ethnic cleansing and settlement building. This is the problem, staggering ignorance of these commentators in the face of overwhelming data."

jj1123, The Palestinians are offering "everything?" Can you name one thing they're offering?

"Beniyyar: Just answer a question for me. How does expanding the amount of land you need to protect and provoking a foe by evicting people from that land make Israel safer? What game is Israel playing?"

billyvw, Are you saying here that Israel should not protect its land? And is protecting that land from a lethal foe somehow also provoking that foe? Or are you saying that Israel is usurping Palestinian lands, evicting Palestinians, and making those lands its own?

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | February 17, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

You stated that John Bolton wrote to you, “If the United States votes for or abstains on such a resolution, it will reflect a dramatic shift in policy against Israel.” I think it is high time that the US changed dramatically its policy regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, and especially regarding the illegal Israeli settlements, because our current policies have not produced anything positive, and we have nothing to show for all our efforts over the last 18 years except an ever increasing number of settlements and an ever bulging mass of illegal settlers.

Our allies: Britain, France, Germany, and the EU, and even Russia and China, have all said very clearly and unhesitatingly that all the Israeli settlements in all the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal per International Laws. Also, there are UN resolutions that describe the settlements as illegal. These resolutions were passed, after all, with US support, and obviously, the US cast its “Yes” votes then.

If President Obama vetoes this UN resolution, it will have dire consequences to America’s relation with the Muslim world. At a time when Muslims around the world are just beginning to find their long repressed voice, they will not remain silent and will complain loudly and clearly. Obama’s famous Cairo speech will become fodder for jokes, and his much tarnished image will darken even more. Voting for the resolution is clearly in our national interest; and the wording of the resolution conforms to our official policy regarding the settlements that they are “illegitimate”. It will also raise two pertinent questions: Why would Obama take any action that is not in our national interest? Would he do this to only please Israel even though vetoing the resolution will harm America’s image?
It seems like he listens to the instructions from Jerusalem instead of listening to voices of reason from around the world. To say that the UN is not the right place to discuss the settlements is absurd. If the UN is not the right place to discuss the legality settlements, what is the right place? The White House kitchen?

Yesh Prabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania

Posted by: Yesh_Prabhu | February 17, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Re RitchieEmmons and poster.

Israel is split between Zionist/Settlers and most living in Israel, in that one groups goal is to restore all Holy Land to Jewish control, while other group views some settlements need for more secure Eastern border. Jerusalem is view differently due to Temple Mount, so both group want to keep it as Israeli.
Five settlements block any chance of a peace deal, Ma’ale Adumin, Ariel, Giv’at Ze’ev, Ephrat and Har Homa, since without them a PA state would be limited in viablity due to central road hub access, access between Palestinian areas and water control.
Ariel maybe the most critical for PA state due to its location but also located on main road between Jordan and Tel Aviv, so Israel views it as needed security buffer from eastern invasion, the same is true of Ma’ale Adumin east of Jerusalem.
Israeli military bases in Jordan Valley could allow Israel to give then up but now they are so big it would be political suicide to do so, since settlers from Gaza have not even yet been fully resettled.

Posted by: Bloodyscot | February 17, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"Bravo to the O.U. Now where are the rest of the pro-Israel groups?"

You know Jennifer's cause it lost when the lobby has deserter her and the only people she can find to agree with her a a group of rabbis.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 17, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: *JRapp | February 17, 2011 11:48 AM

Israel bends over backwards to accommodate America, far more so than any other of our allies, at the cost of Jewish lives.

_____________________________________

False. Israel routinely spits in the face of America, and then turns around and demands we send more aid.

Israel did not give Gaza to the Palestinians, it returned it.

Netenyahu is on video admitting that he sabotaged Oslo and describing the US as something that is easily moved (ie. Does what it is told).

The capital of Israel is Tel Aviv and besides, Israel is building settlements in the West Bank too.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 17, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 17, 2011 12:19 PM

The Palestinians are still playing a winner takes all game, offering nothing, not even peace, and demanding everything, including flooding Israel with millions of so called Palestinian refugees to destroy the Jewish State.

_____________________________________

Absolutely false. The Palestine Papers reveal hat the PA was offering 90% of East Jerusalem and accepting the existence of almost all Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Erekat even offered to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish State.

Livni said thanks but no thanks.

The settlements were always an issue. Dubya refuse dto talk about them, but US policy has remain unchanged – the settlements are illegal.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 17, 2011 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | February 17, 2011 3:00 PM

The Palestinians are offering "everything?" Can you name one thing they're offering?

________________________________

How about 90% of East Jerusalem for a start?
How about offering to formally recognise Israel as a Jewish State?
How about accepting the existence of practicably all the settlements in the West Bank?

“Are you saying here that Israel should not protect its land?”
The settlements are not Israeli land, they are on Palestinian land. If Israel wants to protect Israel, then it should prevent the settlers from putting themselves in harms way.

“And is protecting that land from a lethal foe somehow also provoking that foe?”

So if I invade your house, evict you and “protect” myself against your attempts to reclaim it, that is not a provocation?

“Or are you saying that Israel is usurping Palestinian lands, evicting Palestinians, and making those lands its own?”

Absolutely.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 17, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

To Shingo1:

Your comments are excellent and very logical, enjoyed reading them, thank you.

Posted by: abraham3 | February 17, 2011 11:33 PM | Report abuse

To Shingo1:

Your comments are excellent and very logical,

Posted by: abraham3

================

Unfortunately none of it's true. Even according to Erekat and the PA.

Whether (or not) you choose to believe Al-Jazeera or the Palestinian Authority, how is Israel expected to negotiate peace with a culture where lying is endemic?

Posted by: johnnyboston | February 18, 2011 6:36 AM | Report abuse

Here is what really needs to be done about the UN:
http://timespost.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/delete-the-un-restart-a-new-and-better-one/

Posted by: Orientalist | February 18, 2011 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Josh Bolton was a failure at the UN.

Posted by: chucko2 | February 18, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Once again, the U.S. does not care about "wrong" and "right". What "right" does anyone have to take another person’s property and make it their own through "brute force". The U.S. is more concerned with the "Israel" lobby money than justice.

Posted by: Alethean | February 20, 2011 3:21 AM | Report abuse

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