At UN, US sides with Israel's enemies on settlement issue
It's being billed by the administration as a "compromise" - a move to forestall a Palestinian motion that would almost certainly force the US to use a veto to block it.
In reality, it is just another demonstration of the Obama administration's hostility to Israel.
Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined the new U.S. offer in a closed door meeting on Tuesday with the Arab Group, a bloc of Arab countries from North Africa and the Middle East. In exchange for scuttling the Palestinian resolution, the United States would support the council statement, consider supporting a U.N. Security Council visit to the Middle East, the first since 1979, and commit to supporting strong language criticizing Israel's settlement policies in a future statement by the Middle East Quartet.
The U.S.-backed draft statement -- which was first reported by Al Hurra -- was obtained by Turtle Bay. In it, the Security Council "expresses its strong opposition to any unilateral actions by any party, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community, and reaffirms, that it does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process." The statement also condemns "all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza, and stresses the need for calm and security for both peoples."
U.S. officials argue that the only way to resolve the Middle East conflict is through direct negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinians. For weeks, the Obama administration has refused to negotiate with the Palestinians on a resolution condemning the settlements as illegal, signaling that they would likely veto it if it were put to a vote. The Palestinians were planning to put the resolution to a vote later this week. But Security Council statements of the sort currently under consideration are voted on the bases of consensus in the 15-nation council.
Why seek a compromise in the first place? Either Israel is within its rights to build settlements in some areas of their territory or we oppose them. This "middle ground" baloney is being considered only to appease the Arabs who know full well that Israel's settlement policy is legal, but choose to make an issue of it because the Palestinians are.
If the compromise fails, will the Obama administration use a veto at the UN? Given their attitude toward our ally to date, anything is possible but it would be political suicide not to stand by Israel on such a sensitive issue.
That may be the only thing that Obama considers more important than supporting the Palestinians in their efforts to stop Israel from building legitimate settlements.