U.S. 'compromise' offer to condemn Israel
The U.S., in an apparent attempt to spare itself the trouble of vetoing a Palestinian-backed U.N. Security Council resolution seeking to condemn Israel, offered an unprecedented "compromise" that would entail a sharp rebuke of our democratic ally. Even that was not enough to satisfy Israel's foes. And, in a noteworthy demonstration of his foreign policy chops, Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty was quick to condemn the administration's gambit.
Colum Lynch of Foreign Policy reported:
The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.
But the Palestinian's rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution Friday, according officials familiar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospects that the Obama administration may cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.
Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with its key ally and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to Israel to stop its construction of new settlements. The Palestinian delegation, along with the council's Arab member Lebanon, has asked the council's president this evening to schedule a meeting on Friday. But it remained unclear whether the Palestinian move today is simply a negotiating tactic aimed at extracting a better deal from the United States. . . .
In [the compromise] the Security Council "expresses its strong opposition to any unilateral actions by any party, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community, and reaffirms, that it does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process." The statement also condemns "all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza, and stresses the need for calm and security for both peoples."
But that wasn't all. The U.S., according to an informed source on Capitol Hill, also offered "support for a UNSC fact-finding mission to the Middle East, which the Russians have been pushing." And there was "some sort of Quartet statement that would reference the 1967 borders." Israel, of course has made perfectly clear that 1967 borders are unacceptable, and, in any case, that this is an issue for direct negotiations. (That would be the direct negotiations that the Palestinians walked out of last fall.)
This remarkable deviation from past administrations' treatment of Israel was not lost on Pawlenty. His spokesman provided a statement via e-mail, "The Obama administration has shown an astonishing unwillingness to stand by Israel at the United Nations, an organization with a long history of blaming Israel for just about every problem in the Middle East. It's time for our UN ambassador to finally show some leadership, draw a line in the sand, and defend our historic ally. Global stability depends more than ever on a respected America that is loyal to our allies and realistic about the malice of our adversaries."
Pawlenty is exactly right. Because this administration does not want to do what its predecessors did -- exercise the Security Council veto to shield Israel from one-sided resolutions seeking to isolate the Jewish state in the international community -- it instead has offered to join the pack of jackals that seek, at best, to extract concessions and impose a deal on Israel and, at worst, delegitimize Israel.
An A.P. report echoing the whimpering of the administration contends that since the offer of "compromise" was rejected the administration is in "difficult position." Only this administration would consider it difficult to stand with its ally and rebuff Palestinian efforts to advance their position without concessions or even participation in the "peace process."
As of now, the State Department isn't talking. But after belatedly promising to veto an anti-Israel resolution, it is hard to see this as anything other than a bait-and-switch by the administration. So far, there has been not a peep out of AIPAC or other mainstream American Jewish organizations that have again and again excused the administration's efforts to distance the U.S. from Israel.
The U.S. and Israel were saved, in some sense, by the obtuseness and maximalist demands of Israel's foes who declined the "compromise." (And why should they do any differently? Why stop at just a "compromise," when there is so much more they might gain from their friends in the White House?) But the damage is done. Once again, Israel's foes, most especially Iran, can see the daylight between the administration and Israel. How would Israel's opponents not be emboldened by the administration's behavior?
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