Update: The UN Security Council is to vote at 2 this afternoon in New York on a resolution to condemn Israeli settlements, according to published reports. [Breaking: UNSC passes historic resolution condemning settlements] The world is determined to get the United States to stick by its guns and allow the resolution to go through, in defiance of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump, who scotched the resolution yesterday.
Netanyahu has issued a last-minute video appeal. The proposed resolution is “anti-Israel” and it’s “bad, bad for Israel, bad for the United States, and bad for peace.” The lecture to Obama:
Israelis deeply appreciate a great pillar of the US-Israel alliance: willingness of the US to stand up and veto anti-Israel UN resolutions. I hope the US won’t abandon this policy; I hope it will abide by the principles set by President Obama himself in his UN speech in 2011.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett is even angrier:
“I will say to everyone at the Security Council: if you raise your hand or remain silent in the vote against Israel, you’re supporting the forces of terror, you’re supporting airplanes hitting buildings in New York and trucks killing people in Berlin, terror attacks in Brussels, Orlando and Dallas.”
An unnamed Israeli official calls the resolution and the Obama administration’s anticipated stance an “abandonment.” Israel’s friends are going nuts. Senator Lindsey Graham calls it a provocation that must be dealt with “sternly and forcefully,” by cutting off UN funds.
Israel called on Donald Trump yesterday to intervene against the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements when it learned that the Obama administration was planning not to veto the resolution. And Donald Trump then called the Egyptian president and asked him to withdraw the resolution, which he did. And you thought we had one president at a time!
Other countries are clearly enraged over Trump’s shenanigans and are determined not to lose the moment. New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal issued Egypt an ultimatum yesterday to clarify their demand to end settlement building or they reserved the right to table their own draft. Reuters, this morning, reports the four countries have co sponsored the resolution and requested a vote today:
The U.N. Security Council will vote on Friday on a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements after four council members again put forward the measure a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, who were co-sponsors of the draft resolution, have requested the vote, which diplomats said was likely to take place at 3 p.m. (1600 EDT).
The Israeli government is telling the U.S. how to respond. Ambassador Danny Danon:
We call on the US to stand by us and we expect our greatest ally to continue with its long-standing policy and to veto this resolution.
Sean Spicer, the future press secretary for Donald Trump, said today on CNN that not-yet-president Trump was wise to intervene yesterday on behalf of an ally, and “It worked!”
This Israel-Trump-Sisi intervention is merely the latest in a series of humiliations of the Obama administration’s stated position on settlements by the Netanyahu government. Notably, in 2010, Israel announced new settlements when Joe Biden arrived in Israel. In 2011 Netanyahu lectured Obama in the Oval Office about why Israel refused to accept the 1967 lines and had a right to territory in “Judea and Samaria.” And though Obama vowed that settlements must end seven years ago, he has been able to do nothing to stop them: the settlement growth has been greater than ever.
[T]he Israeli official told CNN that his country also approached the Trump campaign after it felt that it had failed to persuade the Obama administration to veto the planned vote. The official said that Israel “implored the White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump.”
“We did reach out to the President-elect and are deeply appreciative that he weighed in, which was not a simple thing to do,” the official said.
Al Jazeera reports that Trump called Egypt:
Egypt agreed to postpone a vote on a UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements after US President-elect Donald Trump called President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian president’s office said.
Reuters says the U.S. was planning to let the resolution go through as a “parting shot”, and Israel was steamed:
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had an acrimonious relationship with Obama, believes the Obama administration had long planned the council vote in coordination with the Palestinians, the senior Israeli official said.
Haaretz noted the Israeli “coordination” with Trump, but said the crisis isn’t over.
Pressure from the Prime Minister’s Bureau on Cairo, which proposed the resolution, requests for assistance and coordination from President-elect Donald Trump and contacts at the UN and in several world capitals caused Egypt to retract its request for a snap vote.
Nevertheless it was made clear to the participants in a meeting of the security-diplomatic cabinet last night that the crisis is ongoing and the possibility remains that a vote will still be held in the next few days.
The State Department tried to cover its embarrassment yesterday. It refused to say how the Obama administration had planned to vote on the resolution. Egypt might resubmit the resolution, said John Kirby:
the text could change now in the wake of discussions with the Arab League. So I think we all need to just – the Egyptians have pulled it back. They’ve asked for a postponement. They’re having discussions with their Arab League partners. We need to let that process work its way through. If there’s changes to the text, obviously we’ll take a look at that. But I really don’t want to get ahead of any votes one way or the other, and that’s – if, in fact, this comes back for a vote.
Kirby had referred to the settlements as illegal last week. He corrected himself yesterday:
I had – I – in an interview the other day I misspoke. I referred to them as illegal and I put out a tweet clarifying it shortly after; our position is that they’re illegitimate.
Here’s a no-Palestinian/all-Jewish-Zionist panel last night on CNN, a putatively liberal US network, in which Alan Dershowitz says, “Donald Trump did exactly the right thing.” Hillary Clinton would have intervened similarly, he says. “This president is acting undemocratically…. This is a parting shot by a frustrated president who thinks more of his legacy….”
Peter Beinart defends the resolution, saying Reagan and Bush 2 both acted at the last minute on UN resolutions to the frustration of Israelis (Osirak bombing condemnation; Condoleezza Rice’s abstention on a Gaza war ceasefire resolution— president-elect Obama was surely for that). Beinart also points out that Palestinians don’t have the right to vote over the government that controls their lives.
When Beinart said that the UN also singled out South Africa with resolutions during apartheid days, Dershowitz said, “You’re equating Israel to apartheid South Africa.” “No I’m not,” Beinart said. CNN should put on the people who would say, Yes it is apartheid.
Thanks to Dan Swanson and Scott Roth.