Obama pres­sured to veto U.N. vote against Is­rael

Trump: Set­tle­ment res­o­lu­tion un­fair

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY GUY TAY­LOR

A U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil vote to con­demn Is­raeli set­tle­ment construction in ar­eas Pales­tini­ans want for an in­de­pen­dent state was de­layed Thurs­day, hours af­ter Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, sev­eral other prom­i­nent Repub­li­cans and Is­rael slammed the mo­tion and called on the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to veto it.

Egypt, which had worked with the Pales­tini­ans to draft a res­o­lu­tion and pro­pose it to the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, re­port­edly moved to post­pone the vote af­ter be­hind-the-scenes pres­sure from Is­rael, whose lead­ers were wary that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion might embrace the mo­tion as a last-ditch stand against the Jewish set­tle­ments.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu took to Twit­ter on Wed­nes­day night to call on the U.S. to “veto the an­tiIs­rael res­o­lu­tion.”

Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­del-Fat­tah elSissi then told his nation’s U.N. mis­sion to post­pone the vote af­ter Is­rael made a spe­cific request for a de­lay, two sources fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter told the Reuters news agency. Any coun­cil mem­ber can pro­pose a draft res­o­lu­tion and then post­pone a vote on it.

While the diplo­matic back-and-forth was play­ing out Thurs­day, Mr. Trump put his weight be­hind Mr. Ne­tanyahu, as­sert­ing that the res­o­lu­tion “should be ve­toed.”

“As the United States has long main­tained, peace be­tween the Is­raelis and the Pales­tini­ans will only come through di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the par­ties, and not through the im­po­si­tion of terms by the United Na­tions,” said Mr. Trump, ar­gu­ing that the res­o­lu­tion “puts Is­rael in a very poor ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion and is ex­tremely un­fair to all Is­raelis.”

Mr. Ne­tanyahu and other con­ser­va­tive Is­raeli lead­ers have praised the U.S. elec­tion vic­tory of Mr. Trump, whose state­ment Thurs­day ap­peared in line with the views of David Fried­man, the pres­i­dent-elect’s nom­i­nee for U.S. am­bas­sador to Is­rael.

Shift com­ing un­der Trump?

Is­raeli news re­ports de­scribe Mr. Fried­man as a trial lawyer in New York who is an Ortho­dox Jew and re­sides part time in Is­rael. He is widely seen as a staunch sup­porter of Is­raeli set­tle­ments, hav­ing helped raise mil­lions of dol­lars for the West Bank’s Beit El set­tle­ment in re­cent years.

Mr. Fried­man and his fam­ily have long-stand­ing con­nec­tions Beit El, to which Mr. Trump’s foun­da­tion has do­nated, ac­cord­ing to a re­port this week by The Wall Street Jour­nal.

An Aug. 2 op-ed that Mr. Fried­man wrote for the Is­raeli news web­site Arutz Sheva, mean­while, ar­gued against the “two-state so­lu­tion” to the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict.

“There has never been a ‘two-state so­lu­tion’ — only a ‘two-state nar­ra­tive,’ ” Mr. Fried­man wrote, adding that “even the nar­ra­tive it­self now needs to end [be­cause it] serves the worst in­ten­tions of both the United States and the Pales­tinian Arabs.”

Suc­ces­sive U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tions, in­clud­ing that of Pres­i­dent Obama, have sought to re­solve the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict through the pur­suit of a twostate so­lu­tion. The most re­cent talks broke down in 2014.

The pe­riod since has been one of on-again, off-again Is­raeli-Pales­tinian vi­o­lence. Al­though clashes have ta­pered off in re­cent months, there was con­cern that the hype of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion could re­new ten­sion.

The Is­raeli military said Thurs­day that its forces had fa­tally shot a Pales­tinian who was lob­bing an explosive de­vice at troops car­ry­ing out an op­er­a­tion in East Jerusalem. The forces were de­mol­ish­ing the home of a Pales­tinian who car­ried out an October at­tack in Jerusalem that killed a po­lice of­fi­cer and a civil­ian.

An As­so­ci­ated Press re­port Thurs­day noted that Pales­tini­ans and most of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity say the ex­pan­sion of Is­raeli set­tle­ments is en­dan­ger­ing the goal of es­tab­lish­ing a Pales­tinian state along­side Is­rael.

The re­port also noted that Mr. Ne­tanyahu and Mr. Obama have clashed re­peat­edly over Is­rael’s set­tle­ments and that some 600,000 Jewish set­tlers now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — ar­eas the Pales­tini­ans want as part of a fu­ture state, along with the Gaza Strip.

Is­raeli forces cap­tured those ter­ri­to­ries in the 1967 Six-Day War. Is­rael also ef­fec­tively an­nexed east Jerusalem — home to sen­si­tive re­li­gious sites — in a move that was not in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized. The West Bank re­mains di­vided be­tween au­ton­o­mous Pales­tinian zones and Is­raeli-con­trolled ter­ri­tory.

A Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Is­raeli set­tle­ments in East Jerusalem would present the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion with a chance to take a stand on the is­sue be­fore the pres­i­dent leaves of­fice next month.

But di­plo­mats said Thurs­day that no time frame has been put for­ward for a vote on the res­o­lu­tion and that it could be put off in­def­i­nitely.

As drafted, the mo­tion would de­mand an im­me­di­ate halt to Is­raeli set­tle­ment­build­ing on Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. It also said Is­rael’s construction of set­tle­ments has “no le­gal va­lid­ity and con­sti­tutes a fla­grant vi­o­la­tion un­der in­ter­na­tional law,” ac­cord­ing to Reuters.

U.S. law­mak­ers weigh in

For a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion to be adopted as in­ter­na­tional law, it would need nine of the coun­cil’s 15 mem­ber na­tions to vote for it and could not be ve­toed by the U.S., France, Rus­sia, Bri­tain or China — the coun­cil’s five per­ma­nent mem­bers.

In past years, Mr. Obama has re­fused to en­dorse anti-Is­rael res­o­lu­tions put be­fore the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, ar­gu­ing that such mo­tions won’t help ne­go­ti­a­tions aimed at re­solv­ing the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict.

Repub­li­can law­mak­ers, as well as some Democrats, ar­gued Thurs­day that Mr. Obama would be un­wise to break with that pol­icy dur­ing his fi­nal days in of­fice.

“It has long been the po­si­tion of the United States to op­pose one-sided or anti-Is­rael res­o­lu­tions at the United Na­tions,” said House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed­ward R. Royce, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can.

“That’s what this is, and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion should veto it,” he said. “A durable and sus­tain­able peace agree­ment be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans will come only through di­rect bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the par­ties.”

Rep. Nita M. Lowey, New York Demo­crat, agreed. She said the ad­min­is­tra­tion should veto the mo­tion and “up­hold long-stand­ing U.S. pol­icy of de­fend­ing Is­rael against one-sided res­o­lu­tions.”

“The Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict should not be in­ter­na­tion­al­ized,” Ms. Lowey said. “Only the par­ties them­selves can re­solve their com­pli­cated dif­fer­ences through di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

Sen. Tom Cot­ton, Arkansas Repub­li­can, said “the path to peace does not run through the United Na­tions, but through strength­en­ing the U.S.-Is­raeli re­la­tion­ship, bol­ster­ing Is­rael’s se­cu­rity, and di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the Is­raelis and the Pales­tini­ans.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Repub­li­can, said the “Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion should be ashamed for not im­me­di­ately sig­nal­ing our in­tent to veto this res­o­lu­tion and any oth­ers like it, which should be em­phat­i­cally and un­con­di­tion­ally op­posed by all mem­ber states who value our al­liance with Is­rael.”

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