Analysis: Israel waiting for Trump, hoping Obama's legacy will be wiped out

What worries Jerusalem is that the UNSC resolution could turn Israel into a criminal state, like that of South Africa during its apartheid era.

December 24, 2016 15:02
2 minute read.
Arab women walk past a shop in Jerusalem’s Old City displaying T-shirts with images of newly elected

Arab women walk past a shop in Jerusalem’s Old City displaying T-shirts with images of newly elected President Donald Trump (L) and outgoing President Barack Obama.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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After eight years in which US President Barack Obama failed repeatedly in efforts to launch a Middle East peace process in the area, he is finishing his presidency with an unpleasant final act.

He could have done this a long time ago - fight against the settlements and not merely suffice with weak US State Department condemnations, back this type of resolution and avoid using his veto on other resolutions.

However, he decided to do so at the last minute, in a move that seems like personal revenge on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just before he exits, leaving the incoming administration to deal with the chaos on the ground.

Some will say it was to be expected - an understandable lashing out against Netanyahu who had an especially acrimonious relationship with him.

However, this is also a slap in the face directed at President-elect Donald Trump and an attempt by Obama to force his policy on him.

And Jerusalem is furious.

"Obama has betrayed [Israel] and the entire Jewish people," a number of senior government officials said before and after the UNSC vote, claiming that the president and US Secretary of State John Kerry "had cooked the decision behind the back" of the prime minister.

"This behavior is petty" and "pathetic" angry officials added.

Soon after the resolution passed, Netanyahu stated defiantly that "Israel rejects the anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations," and described the decision as "shameful."

He then lashed out at Obama, claiming that not only had he failed "to protect Israel against the UN's obsession with Israel," but had  "collaborated with the UN behind Israel's back."

The Obama administration strongly denies that it had orchestrated the UNSC vote on Friday, one day after Egypt decided to nix its plan to proceed with a resolution at the 15-member international body condemning Israel over its settlement activity.

What worries Jerusalem is that the decision could turn Israel into a criminal state, like that of South Africa during its apartheid era, possibly subjecting the Jewish state to prosecution at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Another risk stemming from the UNSC vote is Israel being subjected to sanctions, either internationally or bilaterally between two countries.

Netanyahu's faction in the Knesset, the Likud, later said that it was not sure if it was wise to turn the only democracy in the region into an unlawful actor while Syria conducts a bloody massacre against its own people which has seen hundreds of thousands killed.

Israeli citizens living in settlements over the Green Line are also anxious about the recent move, fearful that they now may be  exposed to personal claims in courts from around the world.

To be sure, the Obama administration's actions have only moved prospects for peace further away, and have pushed the Israeli government in exactly the opposite direction. 

Members of the Knesset that support the settlement movement, such as Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich, will soon rise in ministerial committees and craft legislation calling for sovereignty over areas such as Ma'ale Adumim, all in response to the UNSC vote.

Now, officials in Jerusalem say, they are waiting for the January 20 inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump, who has already expressed his opposition to the vote. And they expect things to be different once the new US administration arrives in Washington.

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