Baker Defends Obama’s Move at UN

Former Secretary of State James Baker on Sunday defended the Obama Administration’s move at the United Nations Security Council against Israel last month.

“It was former Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel who said Israel needs to make the tough decisions if it wants to avoid becoming an apartheid state,” Baker said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday. “And so that’s why I think it was appropriate in this instance for the United States to abstain.”

Citing the many instances past U.S. presidents decided not to veto UN resolutions on settlements, Baker asserted, “The reason I think settlements are a bad idea is that they tend to create facts on the ground which prohibit or prevent negotiating the status of that particular land according to the Land-for-peace provisions and requirements of the U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338. And if you create facts on the ground, there’s nothing, really, then left to discuss about trading land for peace.”

Baker, 86, was among the few Republican national security heavyweights who played a crucial role in convincing President-elect Donald Trump to pick ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee for Secretary of State.

The former Secretary of State also expressed disapproval of Trump’s opposition to the UN vote and his plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“The President-elect has said he would like to be the president that solves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And let’s hope he can do that,” Baker said. “But you can’t think you can succeed at that if you are, in effect, so biased one way or the other. You cannot be Israel’s lawyer and expect to solve the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. And so I hope he’s successful in doing it, but you have to be seen to be at least a semi-honest broker.”

“As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” Trump tweeted after the Security Council voted on Resolution 2334. “The big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace,” the President-elect tweeted 24 hours later. “Too bad, but we will get it done anyway.”

According to Baker, “If [Trump] expects to solve this terribly difficult problem of Israeli-Arab conflict, he’s going to have to be seen to be somewhat of an honest broker or it isn’t going to happen.”

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