By abstaining on the UN’s resolution condemning Israeli settlements, President Barack Obama gave Israel, on the eve of Hanukkah, a parting shot revealing his true views about the Jewish state. Pleas were made to him, by both the Israeli government and by President-elect Donald J. Trump, to continue long-standing American policy to veto such anti-Israel resolutions when they came before the Security Council, which would block the resolution from becoming official UN policy.
As one would expect, the resolution’s passage was hailed by so-called “liberal” Jewish groups like J Street, as well as openly pro-left and pro-Hamas groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace. J Street not only endorsed the resolution, but claimed that it “calls for a halt to actions by both sides that serve to undermine the prospects for peace.” Their statement goes on to equate “Palestinian incitement and terror” with “Israeli settlement expansion and home demolitions.” Jewish Voice for Peace praises the resolution’s adoption by the U.N. as “a step to acknowledging the “need to hold Israel accountable to international law.” There is no attempt on their part to engage in moral equivalence, seeing Israel alone as the one power responsible for the failure of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
The truth about the resolution, as Elliott Abrams and Michael Singh point out, is that it does not distinguish between construction in settlement blocs west of Israel’s security barrier where 80 percent of Israeli settlers live, and those built east of the barrier, where controversy exists about their existence. They point out that most settlements are in towns “that no one disputes [Israel] will keep” after a peace settlement. In essence the resolution demands a return to the 1967 lines before Israel’s military victory, which would mean that even the Western Wall as well as most of East Jerusalem would return to Palestinian hands.