No Obama 'Legacy' on Israel

Donald Trump has been president for just over five weeks. Yet on many fronts there is little doubt a new era has been birthed. One of the most obvious is relations with Israel compared to the previous eight years under Barack Obama.

From the beginning of the Obama administration he was determined to put the U.S. on a different path with regard to the Muslim world. Indeed, the first foreign leader he called was Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. Obama even made a point of telling Abbas his was the first call to a foreign leader, emphasizing his intent to signal a new direction for the U.S.

Obama furthered his effort at a new direction by making his first international speech in Cairo. During his speech he lamented about how the Palestinians suffer “humiliation under occupation,” and criticized Israel for building “settlements.”

Plus, throughout his two terms, it was clear Obama did not like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Right up to the bitter end, the Obama administration went out much as it began, with a slap at Israel. The final kick in the stomach was UN resolution 2334, which singled out Israel’s construction of settlements as the main obstacle to peace. Not a word was mentioned about ongoing Palestinian terrorism and murder of innocent Israeli civilians. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the U.S. has veto power and could have killed the resolution. However, knowing this would be his last opportunity to make a statement against Israel, Obama directed the U.S. to abstain from the voting, thus allowing it to pass.

Contrast this against the early stages of the Trump administration. Throughout his campaign he made it clear that the U.S. had treated its closest Middle East ally terribly. Since Trump has taken office, the difference can only be described as startling.

For example, he has called the Iran nuclear deal “the worst deal ever negotiated,” and has already imposed new sanctions on Iran.

His Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticized former Secretary of State John Kerry for how he handled Israeli-Palestinian issues. “Israel is, always has been, and remains our most important ally in the region” according to Tillerson. He characterized UN resolution 2334 as an effort to “coerce” Israel to change course, further stating, “that will not bring a solution.”

Trump’s Ambassador the UN Nikki Haley has already come out swinging against the overwhelming anti-Israel sentiment which dominates the organization. After attending her initial Security Council meeting and witnessing the absurd obsession it has with Israel, she said “the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore," further stating “the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.” She went on to say “we will never repeat the mistake of resolution 2334 and allow one-sided Security Council resolutions to condemn Israel.” Haley called the UN’s double standards “breathtaking.”

In another clear effort to demonstrate that U.S.-Israel relations have changed, Trump invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to a meeting at the White House. The chemistry between the two of them was obvious and in stark contrast to the strained relations with former President Obama.

During a press conference, Trump moved the peace process in a heretofore new direction by backing off the longstanding U.S. policy promoting a two-state solution. He made it clear the position of the United States is to have the two parties negotiate a solution between themselves, saying “I want the one both parties want,” referring to a deal.

This doesn’t suggest the U.S. is against a two-state solution, because Trump has indicated he would be fine with it. However, in a clear departure from the Obama administration’s attempts to strongarm Israel, the Trump administration is saying let the two sides negotiate their own deal.

Such a stand by the U.S. sends a clear message to the Palestinians that Israel has every right to expect them to come to the table without preconditions and allow Israel tell the Palestinians what their conditions are for a resolution to the conflict, without being under the thumb of the U.S. Abbas has made it known he isn’t happy about this by stating his commitment to a two-state solution and demanding the world recognize Palestine. In my view, Abbas missed a golden opportunity to demonstrate some flexibility and strike a deal during the eight years of the Obama administration, which was clearly more favorable toward the Palestinians.

Obama was not shy about promoting a two-state solution, trying on numerous occasions to almost force Israel to accept one, and seemed more interested in promoting self-determination for the Palestinians than in understanding Israel’s obvious need for a genuine peace partner willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Trump has also indicated he will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. However, this is still under discussion.

While it is still very early in the administration of Donald Trump, there is little doubt, as Bob Dylan once sang, “the times they are a-changin’.

View more of Dan Calic’s articles on his Facebook page.

Donald Trump has been president for just over five weeks. Yet on many fronts there is little doubt a new era has been birthed. One of the most obvious is relations with Israel compared to the previous eight years under Barack Obama.

From the beginning of the Obama administration he was determined to put the U.S. on a different path with regard to the Muslim world. Indeed, the first foreign leader he called was Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. Obama even made a point of telling Abbas his was the first call to a foreign leader, emphasizing his intent to signal a new direction for the U.S.

Obama furthered his effort at a new direction by making his first international speech in Cairo. During his speech he lamented about how the Palestinians suffer “humiliation under occupation,” and criticized Israel for building “settlements.”

Plus, throughout his two terms, it was clear Obama did not like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Right up to the bitter end, the Obama administration went out much as it began, with a slap at Israel. The final kick in the stomach was UN resolution 2334, which singled out Israel’s construction of settlements as the main obstacle to peace. Not a word was mentioned about ongoing Palestinian terrorism and murder of innocent Israeli civilians. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the U.S. has veto power and could have killed the resolution. However, knowing this would be his last opportunity to make a statement against Israel, Obama directed the U.S. to abstain from the voting, thus allowing it to pass.

Contrast this against the early stages of the Trump administration. Throughout his campaign he made it clear that the U.S. had treated its closest Middle East ally terribly. Since Trump has taken office, the difference can only be described as startling.

For example, he has called the Iran nuclear deal “the worst deal ever negotiated,” and has already imposed new sanctions on Iran.

His Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticized former Secretary of State John Kerry for how he handled Israeli-Palestinian issues. “Israel is, always has been, and remains our most important ally in the region” according to Tillerson. He characterized UN resolution 2334 as an effort to “coerce” Israel to change course, further stating, “that will not bring a solution.”

Trump’s Ambassador the UN Nikki Haley has already come out swinging against the overwhelming anti-Israel sentiment which dominates the organization. After attending her initial Security Council meeting and witnessing the absurd obsession it has with Israel, she said “the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore," further stating “the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.” She went on to say “we will never repeat the mistake of resolution 2334 and allow one-sided Security Council resolutions to condemn Israel.” Haley called the UN’s double standards “breathtaking.”

In another clear effort to demonstrate that U.S.-Israel relations have changed, Trump invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to a meeting at the White House. The chemistry between the two of them was obvious and in stark contrast to the strained relations with former President Obama.

During a press conference, Trump moved the peace process in a heretofore new direction by backing off the longstanding U.S. policy promoting a two-state solution. He made it clear the position of the United States is to have the two parties negotiate a solution between themselves, saying “I want the one both parties want,” referring to a deal.

This doesn’t suggest the U.S. is against a two-state solution, because Trump has indicated he would be fine with it. However, in a clear departure from the Obama administration’s attempts to strongarm Israel, the Trump administration is saying let the two sides negotiate their own deal.

Such a stand by the U.S. sends a clear message to the Palestinians that Israel has every right to expect them to come to the table without preconditions and allow Israel tell the Palestinians what their conditions are for a resolution to the conflict, without being under the thumb of the U.S. Abbas has made it known he isn’t happy about this by stating his commitment to a two-state solution and demanding the world recognize Palestine. In my view, Abbas missed a golden opportunity to demonstrate some flexibility and strike a deal during the eight years of the Obama administration, which was clearly more favorable toward the Palestinians.

Obama was not shy about promoting a two-state solution, trying on numerous occasions to almost force Israel to accept one, and seemed more interested in promoting self-determination for the Palestinians than in understanding Israel’s obvious need for a genuine peace partner willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Trump has also indicated he will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. However, this is still under discussion.

While it is still very early in the administration of Donald Trump, there is little doubt, as Bob Dylan once sang, “the times they are a-changin’.

View more of Dan Calic’s articles on his Facebook page.