Much of the focus in the United States on the fallout of the U.N. resolution censuring Israel on “illegal” settlements in Palestinian territories has been the sniping between President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President-Elect Trump. However, on a global scale, the U.N. resolution arguably represents a shift in the world’s attitudes about Israel’s actions.
The response from the Netanyahu government has been to suspend diplomatic relations with a number of allies, including the United States, like a teenager refusing to talk to their parents after being scolded for smoking pot in the basement. Yet, while much of their ire is focused on the Obama administration–who did not use the U.S.’s veto power to block the resolution–America is not the only country who could have done that.
As Tony Karon writes for Quartz:
Despite Netanyahu’s confidence that the incoming Trump administration will back Israel on its settlement enterprise, the fact that not a single Israeli ally voted against the resolution deals a staggering blow to the prime minister’s core belief that Israel can normalize its international standing while denying the rights of millions of Palestinians. Netanyahu frequently boasts of Israel’s diplomatic gains, claiming it has made common cause with Sunni Arab states against Iran. But these statements are based on the unspoken assumption that amid more dramatic developments elsewhere, the world will simply forget about the Palestinians’ plight.
Netanyahu’s outrage over the UN vote was clearly a response to being proved embarrassingly wrong on that count.
Originally, Israel was part of a “two-state solution” when the 1947 U.N. Resolution 181 established the division of “historic Palestine” into two states. Subsequent wars have seen those borders change. Israel has always said publicly they want to protect their right to exist, but also want peace.
Yet, after the failures of the Madrid talks, the Oslo accords, and other efforts, Israel remained committed to a two-state solution. Then came Benjamin Netanyahu. In his most recent election effort, he promised to ensure that no Palestinian state would come about as long as he was in power.
So while those on the right (and Israel hardliners) say that this resolution is the U.S. “abandoning” Israel, Karon suggests that the U.S. is simply trying to “call Israel’s bluff.” Put another way, the U.N. is using this resolution to say that despite publicly acknowledging the need for a Palestinian state, the Netanyahu government continues to allow these settlements in direct contravention to the aim of peace.
Even with Donald Trump assuming the presidency–and with him, the hardest hardliners about Israel on the right–it seems he may struggle to wield the international authority than even President George W. Bush or President Obama. Israel’s other allies are not as easily swayed, and the U.S. will lose its moral authority over whatever peace process remains.
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