(October 10, 2016 / JNS) WikiLeaks recently exposed an email written by former White House official Stuart Eisenstadt that discussed the Obama administration’s deteriorating relationship with Israel and warned, “There is a distinct possibility that the Administration may seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution embodying the two-state, with [pre-] 1967 lines and agreed land swaps, and some vague statements about Jerusalem.”
Is President Barack Obama intending to abandon the decades of bipartisan U.S. policy of vetoing anti-Israel U.N. Security Council resolutions? Specifically, is Obama preparing to permit the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution supporting or recognizing a Palestinian Arab state, and declaring Jewish communities built within illegal?
The signs are numerous. Obama is laying the groundwork to rationalize, and make palatable and understandable that he may take unprecedented unilateral actions against Israel. Consider this:
On Oct. 5, Obama’s State Department “strongly condemned” Israel for approving plans to build 98 apartments within the existing Jewish community of Shiloh in Samaria, for Jews who will be forcibly evicted from their homes in Amona. The existing Jewish community in Shiloh, which was established in 1979, has 3,500 existing residents. The State Department falsely claimed that Israel was approving a “significant new West Bank settlement,” and that this undermined a two-state solution, and “called into question Israel’s commitment to achieving a negotiated peace.”
The State Department’s condemnation also stated, “with regard to the U.N. Security Council and any action at the U.N., our position hasn’t changed. We’re always concerned, frankly, about one-sided resolutions or other actions that could be taken within the U.N., and we’re always going to oppose those kinds of resolutions that we believe delegitimize … Israel and undermine its security. But we’re going to carefully consider our future engagement, if and when we reach that point, and determine how to most effectively pursue and advance the objective that we all, at least claim to share, which is that of achieving a negotiated two-state solution.” [emphasis added].
Despite being prefaced with a line about the U.S. position being unchanged, the State Department’s “reconsideration” statement, on top of the unusually harsh language of condemnation for a mere announcement of program of residential construction in an existing Jewish community, is more than a hint of the course President Obama may take.
Shockingly, the same day, the Obama administration questioned whether Israel is a “friend.” White House spokesman Josh Ernest reiterated the State Department’s unfounded criticism of Israel, wrongly stating Oct. 5 that, “we did receive public assurances from Israel that contradict this announcement, I guess when we’re talking about how good friends treat one another, that’s a source of serious concern as well.”
The media promptly provided further evidence of Obama’s intentions to overturn longstanding U.S. policy. The same “echo chamber” method that Obama aide Ben Rhodes boasted of using to promote the Iran deal – using the media to promote the administration’s agenda – was in full swing. A New York Times article that day quoted former Obama Administration peace negotiator, Martin Indyk, saying, “At a certain point … the Administration may well decide that there needs to be consequences for what it now sees as an effort to close off the two-state solution.”
The next day, a New York Times editorial, “At the Boiling Point With Israel,” parroted the State Department’s false accusations against Israel, calling for Obama to “lead the Security Council to put its authority behind a resolution to support a two-state solution.”
During his Sept. 30 speech eulogizing Shimon Peres, Obama falsely implied that Israel is “enslaving” Palestinian Arabs. He quoted the left-wing Peres as saying, “The Jewish people weren’t born to rule another people” and “we are against slaves and masters.” Obama also called Israeli’s founding “flawed.”
Later the same day, after the White House official transcript of Obama’s eulogy listed “Jerusalem, Israel” as the speech and burial location, the White House crossed out the word “Israel.”
On Sept. 9, Obama’s State Department wrongly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s valid and accurate explanation that the Palestinian Arab leadership’s repeated demand for a state with “no Jews” constituted “ethnic cleansing.”
In sum, there are good reasons to believe the ground is being prepared for a major change of U.S. policy, and major U.S. betrayal of Israel at the U.N., perhaps after the November elections.
Obama’s refusal to veto a potential U.N. resolution unilaterally establishing or laying out borders or other parameters for a Palestinian Arab state would sabotage any chance of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and peace.
As former President Lyndon Johnson wisely said, “We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. . . . [L]ines must be agreed to by the neighbors involved.”
The U.S. Congress can and should play a decisive role here. It can pass legislation mandating a cutoff of U.S. funding for the U.N. and the Palestinian Authority if the Obama administration permits a Palestinian state resolution to pass in the Security Council. This could stop a devastating U.N. resolution, which would endanger the only tiny Jewish state in the world, and its eight million inhabitants.
Morton A. Klein is president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).