The recent United Nations Security Council Resolution reaffirming the illegality of Jewish colonies on the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem has buoyed Palestinians. For the first time, the administration of United States President Barack Obama refrained from using its veto to quash any condemnation of Israel. However, given the lateness in the day, Obama’s stance amounts to a token, a move taken to distance him from his successor’s raft of pro-Israel proposals — the relocation of the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem and his nomination of an ambassador that makes Netanyahu look like a peacenik by comparison.
Trump’s tweet in response, “Things will be different after January 20th”, portends the final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution that’s been allowed to die a slow death during Obama’s second term when he shrugged his shoulders, gave up the ghost and rewarded Israel with a whopping $38 billion (Dh139.76 billion) aid package.
Trump promises to be more engaged, but in light of Republican pro-Israel sentiments — not to mention his evangelical base predicating a Second Coming on the rebuilding of Solomon’s temple in place of Al Aqsa Mosque — his pledge is more of a threat than a reason to hope.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said the US abstention was “absolutely shameful”. Former presidential hopeful Senator John McCain railed that the US is “complicit in this outrageous attack”; his Siamese twin Lindsey Graham wants to punish the United Nations by cutting its funding. You’d be forgiven for imagining the self-described Jewish state is about to be dismantled!
Palestinians are right to celebrate their moral victory; it’s comforting to know that the international community is on the side of right, even though they know in their hearts that no matter how many resolutions are passed in their favour, their situation isn’t about to change for the better.
The Israeli Prime Minister has called the resolution “shameful”. He says he has no intention of abiding by it and has recalled his ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal — two of the resolution’s sponsors (the others have no diplomatic relations with Israel). He has also accused Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry of ganging-up with its architects behind the scenes.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, was visibly livid, calling the resolution “evil” while characterising Israel as a victim of UN bias. Holding up the Torah ‘evidencing’ Israel’s claim to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), he told representatives in the chamber that voted ‘yes’ that they, in fact, voted ‘no’ to the two-state solution and any chance of peace. Like all Israeli officials, he touted Israel as being the only democracy in the Middle East, but absent of democratic values and respect for international laws and conventions that claim rings hollow.
Danon wasn’t mollified by the attack on the UN launched by US Ambassador to UN, Samantha Power, for treating Israel differently from other member-states — echoing a similar statement earlier made by outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon — or by the obsequiousness of Britain’s Ambassador who lambasted the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement and must have held his nose before raising his arm.
The fact that the resolution has passed is being hailed as ‘historic’ — a massive exaggeration because it’s relatively toothless and like so many others, it will be filed away and forgotten. It achieves nothing concrete apart from placing a stamp on Israel’s impunity from constrictions placed on all law-abiding states.
Netanyahu’s rage is the reaction of a massive ego smarting from insult. He is not the slightest bit worried, whereas he might have had reason for concern had Obama mustered the gumption to remove America’s diplomatic umbrella early in his presidency when the two-state solution might still have been salvaged. But that would have set him head-to-head with Congressional lawmakers — both Republican and Democrat. The outrage is just a small taste of the groundswell of opposition Obama would have faced had he shown the courage of his convictions from the get-go.
As colonies of armed religious fanatics mushroom on Palestinian land unchecked, while Trump promotes himself as Israel’s saviour, a contiguous Palestinian state is a mirage. Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas should stop fighting windmills and implement Plan B — if he has one. He can either dissolve the PNA, leaving Israel to pick up the tab for Palestinian needs, or call for one-state with one-man, one-vote. Now that would really send Netanyahu into the biggest hissy-fit known to mankind!
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org