Condemnations and Commendation for Obama at UN

WASHINGTON After days of uncertainty, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted unanimously (14-0-1) to condemn Israeli settlement construction on Friday afternoon. The United States abstained allowing the resolution to pass infuriating Jerusalem.

Israeli officials harshly criticized the UN move. Noting the Security Council’s inability to pass a comprehensive resolution addressing the humanitarian crisis in Allepo, Israeli diplomat George Deek wrote, “Now that the UN is satisfied its obsession with Israel, it can go back to doing nothing about Syria.” Given that President Barak Obama is currently serving its last month in office, Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbi argued on Channel 2 News that the vote was a “spit in the face of American democracy.”

In explaining her vote, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power began her speech quoting Republican President Ronald Reagan: “Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.”

Yet, while noting her opposition to Israeli settlements, Power also reprimanded Turtle Bay in justifying the United State’s decision to abstain rather than supporting the draft. The UN Human Rights Council passed more resolution targeting the Jewish state than the world’s most egregious human rights violators: Syria, North Korea, Iran and South Sudan combined, the American Ambassador reiterated.

Speaker Paul Ryan lashed out at Obama for refusing to veto the resolution calling the move “absolutely shameful…. Our unified Republican government will work to reverse the damage done by this administration, and rebuild our alliance with Israel.

Even Democratic legislators opposed their own party leader. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) said that he was “disappointed that the U.S. delegation did not use veto power on Security Council.”

Leading Republican Senators including Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) have vowed that with the passing of this UNSC resolution, they would work to cut funding from Turtle Bay.

But within the Israeli Knesset, views were more mixed on the resolution. Zahava Gal-On, chairwoman of the Meretz Party urged Obama before the vote not to issue a veto. She blamed the government’s policy for advancing legislation that legalized an unauthorized outpost built on private settlement land in unifying the international community against the settlement enterprise.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office launched a harsh attack against the White House in its statement after the vote: “The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes.”

“Unprecedented failure in the Security Council,” blasted former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. “The Prime Minister needs to fire his Foreign Minister, and of course blame Obama, Kerry, Arafat and the Mufti.” Netanyahu currently serves both as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Amir Tibon, diplomatic correspondent for Walla News, highlighted the fact that Russia supported the anti-settlement resolution despite Netanyahu’s repeated touts of the intimate Moscow-Jerusalem relationship

Noting the criticism of Obama’s abstention from Democratic circles, Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications said on a conference call with reporters, “We have great respect for Senator Schumer… What I would say is where is the evidence that by not taking this action it would slow settlement activity?” Rhodes added that the Administration would have vetoed any resolution that would have imposed a settlement on the two sides or recognized a Palestinian state.

Palestinian support for the resolution was widespread ranging from the Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour along with the Islamic Jihad militia, which praised the resolution for isolating and boycotting the Jewish state.

Martin Indyk, former U.S. Middle East Peace Envoy and Ambassador to Israel stressed, “Hope settlers will understand UNSC 2334 meaning: their determination to settle West Bank and undermine peace negotiations is hurting Israel.”

Despite all of the condemnations and commendation for the UN resolution from both sides, it remains unclear how today’s vote in Turtle Bay will directly impact Israelis and Palestinians on-the-ground thousands of miles from New York.

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted, “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20,” suggesting that the next commander in chief will adopt more pro-Israel policies in Turtle Bay.

Jacob Kornbluh contributed to this article

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