(Video: Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz tells CNN: “Obama was wrong, Trump was right.”)
WASHINGTON – Israeli officials are furious with President Obama for allowing the U.N. to pass a resolution Friday demanding the Jewish state “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
With the U.S. taking the extraordinary move of abstaining, the Security Council unanimously passed the resolution, which also calls for the limiting of the Jewish state to the borders it had before the 1967 war.
The resolution declares the Israeli settlement policy has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”
Critics say the move effectively strips Israel of any bargaining power in any future peace negotiations by forcing the state to forfeit its biggest bargaining chip.
The resolution was approved 14 to 0, with the United States abstaining. To pass, a U.N. resolution requires approval by 9 out of 15 members of the Security Council, and no vetoes by any of the 5 permanent members, including the U.S.
By not using the United States’ veto to prevent it from coming up for a vote, Obama effectively endorsed the resolution. As Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz put it, “an abstention is a vote for the resolution.”
A defiant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ignore the vote, issuing a statement that said, “Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. and will not abide by its terms.”
“At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half a million people in Syria, it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, and calls the Western Wall ‘occupied territory.'”
Netanyahu said Obama’s administration “not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the U.N., it colluded with it behind the scenes.”
The Israeli leader added, “Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.”
After the resolution passed, President-elect Trump tweeted, “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.”
Republicans responded to the resolution by threatening to cut off funding for the U.N.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement, “[T]he consequences of this disgraceful U.N. resolution should be severe. I look forward to working with Sen. Graham, and with the incoming Administration of President-elect Trump, to significantly reduce or even eliminate U.S. funding of the United Nations, and also to seriously reconsider financial support for the nations that supported this resolution.”
He added, “For eight long years, the Obama administration has worked systematically to undermine the nation of Israel. They actively worked to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu, and illegally used U.S. taxpayer funds to do so. Never has there been a more anti-Israel Administration, and today’s United Nations vote is the culmination of their systemic agenda to weaken Israel and strengthen its enemies.”
But, Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti jubilantly proclaimed,”This is a victory for the people and for the cause, and it opens doors wide for the demand of sanctions on settlements.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement, “We cannot in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace.”
“President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.,” charged an Israeli official before the vote, calling it “an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of U.S. policy of protecting Israel at the U.N.”
Critics such as Dershowitz call Obama’s gambit “unprecedented” because, even though the U.S. officially opposes the West Bank settlements, it has always opposed consequential votes in the U.N. against Israel.
Making Obama’s decision even more consequential is the fact the incoming Trump administration cannot overturn a U.N. resolution.
Dershowitz accused the president of acting to “selfishly try to burnish his personal legacy at the expense of our national and international interests,” and charged, “Obama is determined – after 8 years of frustration and failure in bringing together the Israelis and Palestinians – to leave his mark on the mid-East peace process.”
The issue has been a source of frustration for U.S. administrations ever since Arabs attacked Israel in 1967, only to lose the West Bank and Gaza, then demand the return of the territories. Israel gave back Gaza but its government maintains the tiny Jewish state needs to retain the West Bank and allow settlers there in order to maintain a buffer zone against terrorists and any future invasion.
Most establishment politicians in the U.S., and most world leaders, consider Israel’s control of the territories to be the major obstacle to peace between the Palestinians and the Jewish state, and the so-called two-state solution.
But the man President-elect Trump has designated to become the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, doesn’t believe Israeli control of the territories is the obstacle to peace. He believes the problem is Palestinian intransigence.
Friedman has said he “doesn’t see much opportunity for progress until the Palestinians renounce violence and accept Israel as a Jewish state.”
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Even though not yet president, Trump had intervened to stop the resolution by persuading Egypt to withdraw it. But several other sponsors, Venezuela, Malaysia, Senegal and New Zealand, went ahead and introduced it on Friday, allowing the resolution to come up for a vote.
After abstaining from the vote, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power explained the Obama administration’s position that, “This resolution reflects trends that will permanently destroy the two state solution if they continue on their current course.”
But Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, was livid at the Obama administration’s role, saying, “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share and that they would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution.”
Dershowtiz, a Democrat and generally a supporter of Obama, previously detailed to WND his sharp disagreement with the president on the Iran deal and his deep concern it would threaten Israel’s security.
The Harvard law professor was particularly scathing in his criticism of Obama and the U.N. resolution in an editorial published on Friday morning just before the U.N.vote, saying, “The United States was trying to hide its active ‘behind the scenes’ roll by preparing to abstain rather than voting for the resolution.”
Dershowitz blasted “President Obama’s lame duck attempt to tie the hands of his successor” as “both counterproductive to peace and undemocratic in nature.”
The Democrat also defended Trump.
“The effect, therefore of the Obama decision to push for, and abstain from, a vote on this resolution is to deliberately tie the hands of President Obama’s successors, most particularly President elect Trump. That is why Trump did the right thing in reaction to Obama’s provocation. Had the lame duck president not tried to tie the incoming president’s hands, Trump would not have intervened at this time.”
Dershowitz portrayed Obama’s move as a strategic blunder and an obstacle to peace because passage of the resolution “would disincentivize the Palestinians from accepting Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu’s invitation to sit down and negotiate with no preconditions.”
“And,” he added, “a Security Council resolution siding with the Palestinians would give the Palestinians the false hope that they could get a state through the United Nations without having to make painful sacrifices.”
The Democrat concluded with a particularly blistering summation of the president’s legacy.
“One would think that Obama would have learned from his past mistakes in the mid-East. He has alienated the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Emirates and other allies by his actions and inactions with regard to Iran, Syria, Egypt and Iraq. Everything he has touched has turned to sand.”