A hearty congratulations to the Obama administration is in order- the administration which raised hopes around the world that it would deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a more even-handed manner has managed to not only help cause one of the worst Israeli-Palestinian rifts in decades but they have actually managed to piss off pretty much every single one of our allies.
You probably didn’t hear much about this yesterday given most of the US media would like you not to know about it, but a historic thing happened at the UN:
FOURTEEN frustrated members of the UN Security Council pointed a finger at the US yesterday for blocking any condemnation of Israel’s accelerated settlement construction in Palestinian territory.
In a move that Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin called historic, diplomats from almost all regional blocs represented on the council stepped to the microphone after closed council consultations on the Middle East to condemn the lack of progress towards a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mr Churkin, the council president, said the frustration over the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian talks spilled out in statements from the four European Union council members, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab group and the group of emerging powers that included India, Brazil and South Africa.
Clearly referring to the US, Mr Churkin said dismissively that one delegation believed things would miraculously sort themselves out on their own. “The call for bilateral negotiations without preconditions would seem a normal thing to ask for,” he said.
But Mr Churkin said the Palestinians were overwhelmed militarily and in every other way by the Israelis and without preconditions they would not get a fair deal in negotiations.
The diplomats – including key US allies in Europe – also criticised the council’s failure to take action against escalating violence by Israeli settlers and urged a speedy resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
South Africa’s UN ambassador Baso Sangqu said settler attacks against Palestinian civilians increased 50 per cent this year and called Israeli settlement construction “the main impediment for the two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
While the US was not mentioned by name, the diplomats’ anger was clearly directed at Washington, which vetoed a resolution in February backed by the 14 other council members that would have demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building.
The Obama administration has also promised to veto any Security Council resolution supporting Palestine’s bid to become the 194th member of the UN.
Earlier this week Germany responded with anger to Israel’s decision to approve construction of more than 1000 housing units on land captured in the Six-Day War. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Israeli announcement on Sunday was “a devastating message”.
Ms Merkel has made no secret of her anger at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to advance the peace process and for his approval of Israeli housing construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In February, according to German sources, Mr Netanyahu telephoned Ms Merkel to express disappointment at Germany’s support of a UN resolution condemning Israel for its construction in settlements, a resolution vetoed by the US.
“How dare you,” Ms Merkel reportedly responded to Mr Netanyahu’s criticism. “You’re the one who disappointed us. You haven’t made a single step to advance peace.”
Angela Merkel demonstrates time and time again how a powerful sovereign nation acts towards one of its client states. When Bibi refused to turn over Palestinian tax funds, how did the US respond? By pathetically repeating how the US “urges Israel” to return the funds which rightfully belong to the PA. How did Germany respond? By telling Israel that the German transfer (ie. gift) of Dolphin submarines to Israel would simply not take place until they stopped acting like total assholes and released the funds to the Palestinians. Guess what happened? Almost immediately, Israel decided to release the Palestinian funds. Gee, how ’bout that!?! So having actual consequences actually works!
And how did the brain trusts at the State Dept. respond to the unanimous condemnation of the U.S. by every other member of the Security Council? The US said that using the UN to denounce Israel’s actions hurts the peace process. An intrepid reporter who was present at that press briefing noted that such a response was the height of hypocrisy given the US has no problem using the UN to denounce every single thing the Palestinians do, not to mention what Iran, Syria, North Korea etc. do. But when it involves Israel, it’s inappropriate to point out ongoing, gross violations of international law.
**UPDATE**: To see Israel’s dismissive response to the EU and other security council members, see here. It’s truly incredible. There is no denying the US is the major barrier to Mideast peace. The US policy of preventing Israel from ever being accountable for anything has made Israel arrogant, dismissive and yes, dangerous.