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Would the isolation of America persuade Obama not to veto?

By Alan Hart - posted Thursday, 27 January 2011


Despite strong U.S. opposition, a proposed resolution condemning Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank did make it to the UN Security Council. It was not put to a vote and no vote is expected for some time, if ever, because of the probability as things stand of an American veto. But given growing global support for the resolution, there is a case for wondering if President Obama can remain Zionist-like in his own implicit defiance of international law on Israel's behalf.

Introduced by Lebanon, the resolution states that “Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.” And it demands that Israel cease “immediately and completely” not only all settlement construction in the occupied territory including East Jerusalem, but also “all other measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Territory, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions.”

Washington had hoped that signalling its opposition to the proposed resolution would be enough to cause its Palestinian and other Arab sponsors to back away from taking it to the Security Council. Deputy American UN Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said the U.S. opposed bringing the settlement issue to the Council “because such action moves us no closer to a goal of a negotiated final settlement and could even undermine progress towards it.” She also said the Security Council should not be the forum for resolving the issues at the heart of the Israel/Palestine conflict. In my view that has to be among the most ridiculous statements any diplomat has ever made in any place at any time.

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When the Arab sponsors discovered that they do have testicles and refused to be intimidated by Uncle Sam, the result was a huge embarrassment for Obama because, as noted by Tony Karon in an article for Time, the resolution's substance “largely echoes the Administration's own stated positions.” In Ha'aretz under the headline Settlements issue isn't Israel's problem, it's Obama's, Natasha Mozgovaya was more explicit. The resolution has put Washington “in the awkward position of having to veto a resolution it absolutely agrees with.”


That was why a number of former senior U.S. diplomats and officials wrote to Obama urging him to support the resolution. They included former Reagan Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, and former Assistant Secretaries of State Thomas Pickering and James Dobbins. They said the resolution is not incompatible with negotiating an end to the conflict and does not deviate from the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security. They added:

“The proposed resolution is consistent with existing and established U.S. policies, deploying a veto would severely undermine U.S. credibility and interests, placing us firmly outside of the international consensus, and further diminishing our ability to mediate this conflict.”

How far outside the international consensus the U.S. already is on account of its unconditional support for Israel right or wrong was demonstrated by the fact that the resolution attracted the support of 120 nations. Diplomats were certain that the U.S. was the only one of the five permanent members on the 15-country Security Council with veto power that would have vetoed if the resolution had been put to a vote when it was introduced. In other words, without a U.S. veto it would have passed. That would have more or less confirmed Israel's pariah status in much of the world and just might have been a game-changer.

In contrast to the Zionist lobby in America which has naturally been urging - ordering? - Obama to veto, J Street, the “dovish” Jewish advocacy group which is pro-Israel and more or less anti-AIPAC, is among those who understand that a veto would not be in America's own best interests. Or Israel's, despite what its deluded leaders assert to the contrary. In a statement J Street said:

“As a pro-Israel organization and as Americans, we advocate for what we believe to be in the long-term interests of the state of Israel and of the United States... Ongoing settlement expansion runs counter to the interests of both countries and against commitments Israel itself has made,.. While we hope never to see the state of Israel publicly taken to task by the United Nations, we cannot support a U.S. veto of a Resolution that closely tracks long-standing American policy and that appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy.”

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Because J Street almost certainly speaks for far more silent and troubled American Jews than AIPAC does, that's quite an important statement.

The advocacy group Americans for Peace Now was more explicit in its message to Obama. It not only urged him to avoid vetoing the resolution, it also said this:

“It is indefensible that the Netanyahu government, heedless of the damage settlement activity does to Israel's own interests and indifferent to the Obama Administration's peace efforts, has not only refused to halt settlement activity but has opened the floodgates, including in the most sensitive areas of East Jerusalem. In this context, the move by the United Nations Security Council to censure Israel's settlement activity should surprise no one... Vetoing this resolution would conflict with four decades of U.S. policy. It would contribute to the dangerously naive view that Israeli settlement policies do no lasting harm to Israel. And it would send a message to the world that the U.S. is not only acquiescing to Israel's actions, but is implicitly supporting them.”

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About the Author

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications for nearly 40 years, starting as a correspondent for ITNs News At Ten and the BBCs Panorama programme (covering wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world). He is the author of Zionism: The real enemy of the Jews

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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