Reuters: “Israel will re-assess its ties with the United Nations following the adoption by the Security Council of a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday. The vote was able to pass the 15-member council on Friday because the United States broke with a long-standing approach of diplomatically shielding Israel and did not wield its veto power as it had on many times before – a decision that Netanyahu called ‘shameful'”
By forcing a resolution against Israel in the UN, Obama has succeeded, but not in the way he hoped for:
Today, it doesn’t matter if a person is a liberal, a conservative, a democrat, or a republican; all of us, American citizens who support Israel, feel abandoned by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of State Kerry, who worked hard behind the scene to force an anti-Israeli resolution in the UN, in attempt to tie the hands of Israel and the upcoming Trump administration in future negotiations with the Palestinians.
Many people speculate that now that he has nothing to lose, Obama is showing his true colors (anti-Israeli), people see this action as his final swing at Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. However, the motives are less important than the outcome.
This event reminds me the famous Biblical story of Balaam:
Balak, the king of Moab, was planning an attack on Israel. Balak believed that the only way to destroy the Israelites was to outdo them in magic by a spell stronger than theirs. Balak, therefore, sent messengers to Balaam, the greatest magician of those days, asking him to come to Moab to curse the people of Israel who were threatening to overrun their lands. When it was time to curse the Israelites, Balaam waited for an inspiration to curse the Jewish people. However, G‑d put praise and blessings into his mouth.
Although the headlines in the newspapers want us to believe that the sky are falling, the truth is that on its own, this resolution is not a game changer. Many of the countries who voted for it did it under pressure from the Obama administration, or as a lip service to satisfy some of their voters. Most of these countries have more urgent problems to solve in their own countries then to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, the resolution forces Israel to re-examine its relationships with “friendly countries”. Israel is a major player in the global war on terror. It shares with its allies intelligence, military know-how, and its unique military capabilities. Israel is also a world leader in science and hi-tech innovations. Many of the countries who voted against Israel are benefiting from Israel’s generosity. Israel provides unbelievable amount of free services and goods to countries that it considers as allies. The only thing that Israel is asking for it in return, is to be treated fairly in international affairs. The countries that voted against Israel were: China, France, the UK, Russia, Venezuela, New Zealand, Malaysia, Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Angola, Spain Ukraine, and Uruguay. At least ten out of the fourteen countries on this list receive aid from Israel in one way or another.
The immediate outfall of the vote against Israel is the recall of the Israeli ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal, the stop of Israeli funding of UN organizations, the stop of Israeli aid to Senegal, and the Israeli cancellation of the visit of Ukraine’s prime minister to Israel. However, the long-term impacts may be better negotiated agreements and contracts between Israel and the countries it is assisting, which will prevent Israel’s isolation and complete dependency on the US willingness to veto anti-Israeli resolutions.
In the end, Israel may be the real winner of this poor and unjust resolution, as it becomes more confident in its ability to rely on its allies, not based on hope and goodwill, but based on stronger treaties, where both sides recognize the value of each other in the relationship for their mutual benefits.
The loser may be president Obama. The Jewish people always wondered if he was truthful when he said that he was a supporter of Israel. The nuclear deal with Iran, and the poor relationships with Netanyahu were strong signals that he was not. His last minute in office attempt to corner Israel, will not be forgotten. The Jewish people have a long memory. In the Jewish book of history, Obama will find himself in the unflattering list of leaders who did not stand by Israel when it counted.
Other losers will be the UN and the countries who voted in favor of the resolution, as the pro-Israeli congress and the Trump administration are unlikely to forget their involvement in a vote that is clearly against the will of the majority of the American people.
As far as the Palestinians are concerned, it was a symbolic victory. However, to secure their own legitimate and internationally recognized state, there’s no substitute for direct negotiations with Israel. The settlements are there to stay. If a peace agreement is signed, there will be a mutual land swap, which will make this resolution irrelevant and null. Until then, the status quo will remain in place, meaning, the Palestinians will continue in their attempts to destroy Israel, and Israelis will continue to build their homeland throughout the country, including the settlements.