US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice 311 Ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Last week, after the US exercised its veto as a permanent member of the UN
Security Council and blocked an Arab-sponsored resolution that would have
condemned Israel yet again, a collective sigh of relief was heard in
Unfortunately, this sentiment was premature.
statement in the Security Council, US Ambassador Susan Rice made it clear that
she was vetoing the resolution on technical grounds alone, not because of its
problematic content. This does not bode well for our relationship with America
in the months and years ahead.
Let me be clear – President Barack Obama
should be commended for the veto itself. This vote upholds an important US
tradition of defending Israel in the all-too-often biased UN, and we thank our
American allies for this.
However, the negatives far outweigh the
positives here, and the precedents set by Rice’s statement have set
preconditions for the next round of talks that greatly damage our negotiating
In her speech, Rice strongly rejected “the legitimacy of
continued Israeli settlement activity.”
She didn’t stop there. She went
on to say that the building of Israeli communities corrodes “hopes for peace and
stability in the region... violates Israel’s international commitments,
devastates trust between the parties and threatens the prospects for
There are two main problems with her statement. The first is that
her harsh language ignores signed international agreements between us and the
Palestinians and, more importantly, years of understandings with various
The Oslo Accords clearly state that settlements
should be left for the final-status talks. Furthermore, president George W.
Bush’s 2005 letter to prime minister Ariel Sharon had put in writing what had
been implicit US policy, supporting defensible borders for Israel and
recognizing that the main population centers in Judea and Samaria will remain
under its sovereignty.
Secondly, it has been proven time and again that
there is no correlation between settlement construction and advances in the
peace process. Some of the biggest socalled successes took place while Israel
continued to build in its historic homeland.
Both Oslo agreements were
signed, Wye was negotiated, Camp David took place and Annapolis was convened –
all without settlements acting as a roadblock.
In fact, the only time
there was a construction freeze was last year, during which time the
Palestinians refused to come to the negotiating table.
There is obviously
either a deliberate change under way in US policy toward the conflict, or a very
deep misunderstanding of these complex issues within the Obama administration.
If the latter is the case, I call upon President Obama to immediately visit our
region so he can better learn about the situation that we are facing.
WHERE does this leave us? At some point in the not-too-distant future, the US
administration is going to decide it is once again time to make a major push
aimed at resolving this conflict. When that day comes, we will find that the
starting point is more similar to the Palestinians’ than it is to ours. It will
be the duty of any responsible government, and especially one led by the Likud,
to tell our American friends that this stance is simply not acceptable. It is
not in Israel’s or America’s best interest.
The events of the past few
weeks should serve as a wake-up call to our American friends. It is now
abundantly clear to all that Israel is the only stable and democratic US ally in
the Middle East. It is imperative that this realization lead to a serious review
of US policy, and a reversal of the worrying trends we have witnessed over the
past two years.
Our relationship with the American people has always
transcended administrations and political parties. We can only hope that this
strong connection, coupled with an astute analysis of the constantly shifting
events in our region, will lead to a speedy reevaluation of US policy that will
restrengthen our relationship.The writer is deputy speaker of the
Knesset and chairman of World Likud.