“One of the biggest American rebukes of its longstanding ally in recent memory,” and “a striking rupture with past practice,” is how the Associated Press characterized the US abstention, on December 23 at the United Nations security council, as the Obama Administration directed Samantha Power not to veto a resolution condemning Israeli construction in east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
The abstention opposed the will of 88 out of 100 US senators who signed a letter addressed to President Obama in September demanding that he continue to ensure the automatic American veto against any unilateral, anti-Israel actions by the United Nations Security Council. (United with Israel)
Where does the United States’ abrupt abandonment—Donald Trump’s election notwithstanding—leave modern Israel, a nation which has since its inception seemed to have placed its faith and trust in America above all others, including the God of Israel?
The US, though credited by many with having orchestrated passage of the UN condemnation, did not act alone. The original draft of Security Council Resolution 2334 was prepared by Egypt, which withdrew the nomination after what its ambassador described as “intense pressure.”
On December 23, the resolution was proposed again by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela. These four, with China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, Angola, Egypt, Japan, Spain, Ukraine and Uruguay, voted in favor of condemning Israel. With the US failing to use its veto power, the resolution passed 14-0.
Government non-members of the security council who voiced approval of the condemnation after it passed include Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Turkey.
Despite the absurdity of the resolution’s claims, much of the world has endorsed it.
“It’s as if the [United Nations] passed a resolution declaring Mecca and Medina to be sovereign Jewish or Christian territory,” Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer told Fox News regarding the Obama administration’s claim that the White House played no active role in passing the resolution. “It’s absurd. It’s an insult to the intelligence of the world and is supremely damaging to the Israeli claim to its own holy places…The claim that the resolution just showed up and they decided to abstain is ridiculous. This was a U.S. operation all the way.”
Among non-state parties, Amnesty International welcomed the vote and added, “[Israel’s construction activity] constitute[s] a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, constitute[s] a war crime.”
The self-described “pro-Israel” organization, J Street, said, “…the resolution is consistent with long-standing bipartisan American policy…” in support of the Obama administration’s veto decision.
President Obama’s full role in this historic action is not known, and may never be, but Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, told CNN that, “Israel has evidence that…Obama’s administration is behind Friday’s Security Council resolution…We will present this evidence to the new administration through the appropriate channels. If they want to share it with the American people they are welcome to do it.” (Kehila News Israel)
Dermer described the US abstention and the drama surrounding it as “a sad day and a shameful chapter in U.S.-Israeli relations.”
“Jerusalem, meanwhile, continued to take measures to express its displeasure with the 14 countries that supported the resolution,” per a Jerusalem Post story by Lahav Harkov. Israel’s envoy to Angola, Oren Rozenblat, delivered “a letter to the Foreign Ministry in Angola announcing that Jerusalem was terminating Israel’s international development programs with the country…
“The steps against Angola were the latest in a string that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu initiated in response to the resolution, including recalling Israel’s ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand; summoning in for protest the ambassadors and representatives of all the UN Security Council states; canceling the scheduled visit on Wednesday of the Ukrainian prime minister; and calling on his ministers to curtail visits to the 14 Security Council states that voted for the measure…
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avi Dichter repeated Israel’s claims that the US orchestrated the vote.
“A delegation from the Palestinian Authority met with the [US] secretary of state 10 days before the resolution, including Saeb Erekat, [PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s] personal adviser and the head of their security apparatus,” Dichter told Israel Radio. “In addition, the American ambassador to the UN met with the Palestinian ambassador.
“Though the Egyptians pulled their resolution, the US…found other countries to do the job,” [Dichter] added.
Netanyahu has been both praised and criticized for his response to the UN action and the Obama administration’s role in bringing it about, with those who have weighed in expressing both hope and concern for the future.
In a 2007 Associated Press article, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed hope for international diplomatic efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions without the need for military action and also expressed his faith in man’s ability to solve Israel’s problems. “I believe the international efforts will achieve the goals,” Olmert said. “There is no need to get caught up in any apocalyptic prophecies that have no basis in reality.”
With benefit of hindsight, it seems Olmert may have unwisely impugned the Hebrew prophets, particularly Zechariah…
“Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” (Zec 12:8-9)
This article was written for, and appeared in substantially the same form at Kehila News Israel.