On Friday December 23rd, the Obama Administration abstained from a United Nations Security Council resolution vote against Israel, which legally bars Israel from establishing new settlements on the West Bank. This act of the U.S. is unprecedented, as it reverses almost 50 years of consistent American policy toward Israel at the UN, and sparked contempt among Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and supporters of Israel, including President-elect Trump, here at home.
Clearly, President Obama again showed his disdain toward Israel, in an attempt to delegitimize the current territorial boundaries, and sanction the international community in imposing a return to the 1967 borders, a configuration that jeopardizes the security of Israel.
Israel is the sole democracy in the Middle East, and the closest ally of the U.S. in the region. Since its war of independence in 1948, the state has endured multiple wars from its hostile neighbors, and in more recent years, been subjected to constant terrorists attacks from Hamas, and Hezzbolah, both terrorist organizations. The international community should be mindful, that the God of Scripture will contend with any nation who contends with Israel. (Isa 49:25)
The central question is, what does this decision to effectively sustain the UN Security Council vote barring more settlements mean?
First, this reversal of U.S. policy toward Israel is a betrayal; it is reprehensible, and exposes the depth of President Obama’s contempt toward Israel, and Prime Minister Netanyahu. President Obama’s egregious action is nothing less than a “scorched earth” policy toward Israel. It treats Israel essentially as a renegade state, occupying land that is not theirs. This act should leave no doubt that President Obama has only offered support for Israel as a consequence of political support existent within his own party for Israel. Given that he is leaving office shortly, there was no need for him to be mindful of how his actions toward Israel might affect him or other Democrats in an upcoming election. Hence, President Obama could act in a manner that expressed his true sentiments toward Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Jewish state.
Second, states that have little regard for Israel, can now, for the first time, cite the United States as sanctioning their position. This makes Israel potentially vulnerable to the imposition of UN backed economic sanctions, as a penalty for expanding settlements.
Third, it makes it very difficult on the incoming Trump Administration to abrogate this anti-Israel resolution, as the new administration would have to secure support of each member of the UN Security Council, including Russia and China, each of whom has veto power over any proposed new resolution to effectively rescind the one passed on December 23rd. In short, it was an attempt to “handcuff” the incoming administration from preserving the legitimacy of Israel’s borders.
Is there any positive outcome connected with this development? Actually, yes! It exposes the contempt of the UN toward Israel. Second, it gives the incoming administration an irrefutable basis for changing its position toward the UN as an institution, one which generally is hostile toward Israel, a sliver of land about the size of San Francisco, and is used as an international platform to unjustly “bash” America.
How should the incoming administration respond? As former UN Ambassador John Bolton said recently recommended, Trump should introduce a measure to repeal the resolution condemning the settlements as illegal. Although this measure will likely fail, once it does, the Trump Administration should threaten to withdraw U.S. financial support for the UN, its largest contributor, paying 22% of the institution’s annual expenses. The United States does not need the UN, which is essentially a non-functioning body where the world’s nations can express contempt for America.
In response to the Obama Administration vote abstention, today President-elect Trump tweeted that, “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
No doubt, Trump is signaling to Israel that he will immediately restore the close relationship between the two nations. President Obama’s “scorched earth” parting shot will be reversed, one way or another by Trump Administration policy, and/or actions. Moreover, Trump is conveying that he will revitalize relationships with historic U.S. allies around the globe. In short, the U.S. will again become a trusted friend to Israel, and more broadly, to all of its allies around the world.
By Allen Sutton