That’s the million dollar question people are asking, though they’re doing it by saying he “must” support it, because it mirrors his own policies. Though the experts on the region are correct, the U.N. resolution does mirror the Obama administration’s policy, right now Obama is gearing up for 2012 and to say this puts him in a “spot” is a master understatement. The uprising in Tunisia didn’t help.
It was always going to be a struggle for the U.S. to dissuade its Arab allies from going ahead with a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. But last week’s “people power” rebellion in Tunisia has made Washington’s effort to lobby against the plan more difficult. Tunisia has given the autocratic leaders of countries such as Egypt and Jordan more reason to fear their own people. For those regimes, symbolically challenging unconditional U.S. support for Israel is a low-cost gesture that will play well on restive streets.
Going ahead with the resolution, which was discussed on Wednesday at the Security Council and demands an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, is, of course, a vote of no-confidence in U.S. peacemaking efforts. And it creates a headache for the Obama Administration over whether to invoke the U.S. veto ““ as Washington has traditionally done on Council resolutions critical of Israel. The twist this time: the substance of the resolution largely echoes the Administration’s own stated positions. …
[…] U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said on Wednesday that the U.S. opposed bringing the settlement issue to the Council “because such action moves us no closer to a goal of a negotiated final settlement” and could even undermine progress toward it. But that argument is unlikely to convince most of the international community, given the obvious stalemate in the peace process ““ there are no negotiations under way, and the Palestinians have refused to restart them until Israel halts its settlement construction. Initial responses at the Security Council reflect unanimous international support for the demand that Israel stop building settlements. If a vote were held today, the U.S. would be the only possible nay.
MJ Rosenberg also weighs in, pointing to New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s letter to Sect. of State Clinton, signed on to by 17 senators supporting a U.S. veto of the resolution, which also unsurprisingly garnered a prominent place on AIPAC’s site. Below is the letter in full, the portions in bold original:
January 18, 2011
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madame Secretary,
We are very concerned about reports that the Palestinian Authority is drafting a resolution intended for consideration at the United Nations Security Council regarding issues that have been and should continue to be pursued through direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, namely borders and settlements. We believe such a move hurts the prospects for a peace agreement and is not in the interest of the United States.
We strongly urge you to make clear that the United States will veto such a resolution if it is raised at the Council, and to clearly communicate United States’ intent to do so to other Security Council members.
A resolution of this nature would work against our country’s consistent position, which has been that this and other issues linked to the Middle East peace process can only be resolved by the two parties negotiating directly with each other. Between November 2009 and September 2010, the government of Israel imposed a settlement freeze as a goodwill gesture, yet the Palestinians refused to negotiate until the very last month. Attempts to use a venue such as the United Nations, which you know has a long history of hostility toward Israel, to deal with just one issue in the negotiations, will not move the two sides closer to a two-state solution, but rather damage the fragile trust between them.
We know you have a deep understanding of these issues and a heartfelt friendship toward one of our closest allies, Israel. That is why we urge you to clearly signal that the U.S. will veto this resolution, and to make it clear to the Palestinian Authority that it needs to sit down in direct talks with Israel, rather than pursue unhelpful resolutions at the United Nations. We stand ready to be helpful to you in this matter.
Just for the record (in an update), let’s also not pretend that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be doing any differently than Sen. Gillibrand if she were still senator from New York.
MJ is betting Obama will not veto the UN resolution against Israeli settlements.
It certainly would be a momentously courageous move if Obama did not. Because domestic politics and what’s going on at Obama Inc. right now make it a very tough choice. It is undoubtedly the correct one for America’s security in the world, which is why Obama made the declaration against settlements in the first place.
But does the President have a James Baker gene?
Barack Obama has not shown the courage of his rhetoric yet, but if there was ever a more important issue on which to do so I can’t name it.
UPDATE: My friend Steve Clemons has taken on the Washington Post‘s Fred Hiatt & right-wing blogger about Jennifer Rubin’s over the top harangue “the usual Israel bashers,” citing Clemons’ letter on the U.N. resolution. Ms. Rubin got my attention recently when she went after the State Dept.