The White House has instructed the State Department to prepare an “options menu” detailing potential diplomatic steps that could be taken as part of an end-of-term Israeli-Palestinian peace push, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
In an editorial — titled “Obama’s Israel Surprise?” — the WSJ said a UN Security Council resolution that condemns Israeli settlement construction or formally recognizes a Palestinian state would be “a boon to the bullies in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, while also subjecting Israeli citizens and supporters abroad to new and more aggressive forms of legal harassment…Does Mr. Obama want to be remembered as the President who criminalized Israeli citizenship?”
Moreover, asserted the editorial, a Security Council resolution setting parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would be an even graver “blunder.”
“President Obama may be the last man on earth to get the memo, but after decades of fruitless efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it might be wiser for the U.S. to step back until the Palestinians recognize that peace cannot be imposed from the outside,” it concluded. “If Mr. Obama is still seeking a Middle East legacy at this late stage in his presidency, his best move is do nothing to make it worse.”
In Politico on Monday, State Department veterans Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky advised whomever the next president is not to “chase after Israeli-Palestinian peace without clear indications that the locals themselves and the Arabs, too, are prepared to act.”
“Washington should stay away from high-profile U.S.-initiated efforts to take on the big peace process issues,” they wrote. “The advice Bill Clinton gave to one of us before the July 2000 Camp David summit is inspirational but not always right: trying and failing isn’t better than not trying at all. Failure undermines U.S. prestige and power in war and peacemaking. It already has.”
“[T]he time for American-created transformational diplomacy in this region has long passed…If Americans want Hollywood endings, they should think about going to the movies,” Miller and Sokolsky concluded.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post said any Obama-led Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative launched during the lame-duck period between the presidential election on Nov. 8 and the inauguration of Obama’s successor on Jan. 20. would likely be viewed in the Middle East as “legacy-seeking grandstanding rather than as a contribution to peace.”
As reported extensively by The Algemeiner, concerns have been growing that Obama might not protect Israel at the UN as his time in office comes to an end. Last week, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said Hillary Clinton supporters must call on the Democratic presidential nominee to ensure Obama refrains from making any diplomatic moves against the Jewish state.
Earlier this month, Malcolm Hoenlein — executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — told The Algemeiner he had “some concerns about what Obama and others may do” regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process before Jan. 20.
“This is based on things I heard from him a year ago about his priorities and the understandable importance of his legacy to him,” Hoenlein said. “And I listen to his speeches and I have seen some of the harsh statements that are being issued…about Israeli settlement policies. The language being used is much stronger than we’ve seen in the past and I’m afraid that this could be indicative of what a forthcoming UN Security Council resolution against settlements, or something that goes even further, might look like.”
The diplomatic report, intended to go public in the coming days, will place the blame for the moribund peace process on Israel. It is expected to be endorsed by the UN Security Council.
Israel has launched diplomatic efforts aimed at halting the publication of a report by the Quartet (an international diplomatic body comprised of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and Russia. Its purpose is to oversee the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and attempt to end the conflict), which is expected to blame Israel for the current impasse in the peace process with the Palestinians.
The report is set to be published on Thursday or Friday, but diplomats in Israel estimate that it will only be published after Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The two are set to meet in Rome early next week.
Israeli officials say that the report is not expected to contain any major surprises but is likely to place full blame at Israel’s door step for the stalled peace process. The report will also reportedly condemn Israel’s construction in the settlements, settler violence, home demolitions, and other steps seen as jeopardizing the prospects of a two-state solution.
Palestinians are expected to be censured for the effect their actions have had in increasing incitement and violence.
Reports received by Israel say that back channel attempts have been made to make the report part of the UN Security Council’s agenda. The government in Jerusalem is worried that the report may pave a path toward promoting the French peace initiative (which Israel opposes), and perhaps even its endorsement by the UN.
Senior Israeli ministers say that the US is playing a double game, and that it enjoys watching Israel squirm, intending on intervening at a more convenient time – specifically, after the November presidential elections are over.
The Quartet’s report was written following a meeting of its foreign affairs representatives in Munich in early 2016 with the goal of analyzing the reasons for the diplomatic stagnation between Israel and the Palestinians. It aso set out to form a plan for renewing negotiations.
PM Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him to intervene and “soften” the report, as well as to postpone its publication. Netanyahu will also meet European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (who will be arriving in Israel for a goodbye visit, as he is expected to leave office at the end of 2016) next week and discuss the Quartet’s report with them.
Security Council responds to Egyptian demands to rule on Netanyahu’s claims that Golan will ‘forever remain under Israeli control’.
Egypt, which currently holds a seat as a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council, has called a meeting of the international body to discuss last week’s declaration by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that “the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli control. Israel will never withdraw from the Golan Heights.”
The statement touched off a firestorm of criticism, leading to condemnations from the European Union, Germany, and US State Department. The Arab League went a step further, demanding a special criminal court be established to try Israel for the declaration.
On Tuesday the Egyptian Mission to the UN convened a meeting of the Security Council to formally respond to what Egypt claims is Israel’s illegal unilateral actions.
The Golan Heights were captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War. In 1981 the Israeli government annexed the Heights in a move that was quickly condemned by the US and United Nations.
Observers do not anticipate the Security Council will take any drastic actions in response to Netanyahu’s declaration, particularly given the ongoing Syrian civil war and tensions between the West and embattled Syrian President Basher Al-Assad. The closed-door meeting, which is likely to take place later on Tuesday, is expected to issue a warning against unilateral actions to change the status of the Golan.