Is­rael and the dam­age done by Obama

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Charles Krautham­mer E-mail Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group colum­nist Charles Krautham­mer at letters@ charleskrautham­mer.com.

T— Barack Obama, AIPAC con­fer­ence, March 4, 2012 he au­di­ence — over­whelm­ingly Jewish, pas­sion­ately pro-Is­rael and supremely gullible — ap­plauded wildly. Four years later — his last elec­tion be­hind him, with a month to go in of­fice and with no need to fool Jew or gen­tile again — Obama took the mea­sure of Is­rael’s back and slid a knife into it.

Peo­ple don’t quite un­der­stand the dam­age done to Is­rael by the U.S. ab­sten­tion that per­mit­ted pas­sage of a United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Is­rael over set­tle­ments. The ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­tends this is noth­ing but a re­state­ment of long-stand­ing U.S. op­po­si­tion to set­tle­ments.

Non­sense. For the last 35 years, ev­ery ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­clud­ing a re-elec­tion-seek­ing Obama him­self in 2011, has pro­tected Is­rael with the U.S. veto be­cause such a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion gives im­mense le­gal am­mu­ni­tion to ev­ery boy­cotter, anti-Semite and zeal­ous Euro­pean pros­e­cu­tor to pe­nal­ize and pun­ish Is­raelis.

An or­di­nary Is­raeli who lives or works in the Old City of Jerusalem be­comes an in­ter­na­tional pariah, a po­ten­tial out­law. To say noth­ing of the sol­diers of Is­rael’s ci­ti­zen army. “Ev­ery pi­lot and ev­ery of­fi­cer and ev­ery sol­dier,” said a con­fi­dant of Pales­tinian leader Mah­moud Ab­bas, “we are wait­ing for him at The Hague.” I.e., the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court.

More­over, the res­o­lu­tion un­der­mines the very foun­da­tion of a half-cen­tury of Amer­i­can Mid­dle East pol­icy. What be­comes of “land for peace” if the ter­ri­to­ries Is­rael was to have traded for peace are, in ad­vance, de­clared to be Pales­tinian land to which Is­rael has no claim?

The peace pa­ram­e­ters enun­ci­ated so os­ten­ta­tiously by Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry on Wed­nes­day are nearly iden­ti­cal to the Clin­ton pa­ram­e­ters that Yasser Arafat was of­fered and re­jected in 2000 and that Ab­bas was of­fered by Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert in 2008. Ab­bas, too, walked away.

Kerry men­tioned none of this be­cause it un­der­mines his blame-Is­rael nar­ra­tive. Yet Pales­tinian re­jec­tion­ism works. The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil just de­clared the ter­ri­to­ries legally Pales­tinian — with­out the Pales­tini­ans hav­ing to con­cede any­thing, let alone peace.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion claims a kind of pas­sive in­no­cence on the text of the res­o­lu­tion, as if it had come upon it at the last mo­ment. We are to be­lieve that the os­ten­si­ble spon­sors — New Zealand, Sene­gal, Malaysia and a Venezuela that can­not pro­vide its own peo­ple with toi­let paper, let alone food — had for months been sweat­ing the de­tails of Jewish hous­ing in East Jerusalem.

Noth­ing new here, protests deputy national se­cu­rity ad­viser Ben Rhodes: “When we see the facts on the ground, again deep into the West Bank, beyond the sep­a­ra­tion bar­rier, we feel com­pelled to speak up against those ac­tions.”

This is a de­cep­tion. Ev­ery­one knows that re­mote out­posts are not the is­sue. Un­der any peace, they will be swept away. Even the right-wing De­fense Min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man, who lives in one of these West Bank Set­tle­ments, has stated pub­licly that “I even agree to va­cate my set­tle­ment if there re­ally will be a twostate so­lu­tion.” Where’s the ob­sta­cle to peace?

A sec­ond cat­e­gory of set­tle­ment is the close-in blocs that bor­der 1967 Is­rael. Here, too, we know in ad­vance how these will be dis­posed of: They’ll be­come Is­raeli ter­ri­tory and, in ex­change, Is­rael will swap over some of its land to a Pales­tinian state. Where’s the ob­sta­cle to peace here?

It’s the third cat­e­gory of “set­tle­ment” that is the most con­tentious and that Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion 2334 ex­plic­itly con­demns: East Jerusalem. This is not just scan­dalous; it’s ab­surd. Amer­ica ac­qui­esces to a dec­la­ra­tion that, as a mat­ter of in­ter­na­tional law, the Jewish state has no claim on the West­ern Wall, the Tem­ple Mount, in­deed the en­tire Jewish Quar­ter of Jerusalem. They be­long to Pales­tine.

The Tem­ple Mount is the most sa­cred site in all of Ju­daism. That it should be de­clared for­eign to the Jewish peo­ple is as if the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil de­clared Mecca and Me­d­ina to be ter­ri­tory to which Is­lam has no claim. Such is the Or­wellian uni­verse Is­rael in­hab­its.

At the very least, Obama should have in­sisted that any ref­er­ence to East Jerusalem be dropped from the res­o­lu­tion or face a U.S. veto. Why did he not? It’s in­com­pre­hen­si­ble — ex­cept as a part­ing shot of per­sonal re­venge on Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu. Or per­haps as a rev­e­la­tion of a deep-seated an­tipa­thy to Is­rael that sim­ply awaited a safe po­lit­i­cal in­ter­val for pub­lic ex­pres­sion.

An­other legacy mo­ment for Barack Obama. And his most shame­ful.

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