Analysis: Obama flunks Israeli politics 101

By
December 25, 2016 16:16

By declining to veto the anti-Israeli resolution of the UN, it seems that US President Barack Obama has played into the hands of the Israeli Right once more.




US abstains from UN vote to end Israeli settlement building

Just as Education Minister Naftali Bennett was declaring at the Western Wall Sunday that United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 will be “thrown into the dustbin of history,” he was interrupted.

By a dustbin.

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A garbage can on wheels was being transported on the stone floor of the Western Wall Plaza behind Bennett and made it hard for him to be heard. But he decided to go with the flow and use the dustbin to prove his point that the resolution would be forgotten but that it should be used as an opportunity to start annexing land and end concessions for which the world would never reward Israel anyway.

Just as that dustbin came to Bennett at an opportune time, so did UN Resolution 2334 and US President Barack Obama’s decision to refrain from vetoing it and allow it to pass.

It was not the first time Obama played into the hands of the Israeli Right. As Jerusalem Post polls proved at the beginning of his first term, in spring 2009, his obsession with settlements that he revealed in his Cairo speech and his first White House meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu lost him support among the Israeli Center and much of the Left, leaving him with the backing of just 6% of Israeli Jews.

The Israeli Right wants to keep all of Judea and Samaria, so true right-wingers would have never liked Obama anyway.

Had Obama decided to divide and conquer Israelis by isolating the Right and reaching out to the Center and Left, it might have worked.

One could argue that he did exactly that with American Jews by advancing ties with left-wing Jewish organizations while trying to marginalize groups on the Right.

But that is not what Obama did. Perhaps uninformed that the Israeli Center champions settlement blocs and most of the Israeli Left supports building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Obama went against them from the beginning of his presidency until the end, culminating with Friday’s resolution at the UN.

During those eight years, there were a total of nine months of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

It is no coincidence that those were the only nine months when the Obama administration did not tell Israel not to build in settlement blocs and Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

It is also no coincidence that those talks were not extended beyond nine months because Obama interfered and returned the focus to settlements again. The following day, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called a press conference in Ramallah with Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On in which he said he would condition extending the talks on a complete settlement freeze.

Following eight years of Obama, the Israeli Center-Left is in shambles. The peace camp that he left orphaned eight years ago has no leader on the horizon, and only unpalatable figures from the past such as Ehud Barak and Amir Peretz to choose from.

But the Right is stronger than ever, thanks to Obama policies and statements that boomeranged against him and accomplished the exact opposite of his goal of seeking Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Netanyahu, whose popularity rose every time Obama spoke, should send him flowers as a parting gift, especially after the UN resolution on Friday. Bennett, who is now advancing ideas of annexation that could not even have been dreamed of eight years ago, owes Obama the kind of present only an education minister could give him.

He should present him a report card, saying: Israeli Politics 101, with a big red F.

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