President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after arriving on the White House South Lawn aboard Marine One following a trip to Pennsylvania and Ohio, Oct. 14, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama has ordered up an “options menu” for proceeding with a diplomatic resolution between Israel and the Palestinians at the United Nations, to Israel’s great consternation, a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial reported on Monday.
According to the article, entitled “Obama’s Israel Surprise”, the White House has requested a list of options from the State Department to fill Obama’s final months in office. Among them: sponsoring a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement building – a step that, despite the US’s known displeasure on the subject, the administration has yet to officially take.
Obama might sponsor, “or at least allow”, such a resolution, said the article, and, domestically, punish Americans involved in Israeli construction by implementing “new IRS regulations revoking the tax-exempt status of people or entities involved in settlement building.”
There is another, even more worrying option on the menu, the WSJ warned, and that is the possibility of Obama pushing “formal recognition of a Palestinian state at the Security Council.”
Such a move, without a simultaneous peace agreement with Israel, would essentially destroy the possibility for a future peace. Without a state as a bargaining chip, the Palestinians would lack virtually all motivation to work with Israel.
But the worst option of all, continued the article, “would be an effort to introduce a resolution at the UN Security Council setting ‘parameters’ for a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Israel has long argued that the only way to come to a peace agreement with the Palestinians is through direct negotiations between the two parties. Imposing a framework on talks would remove Israel’s autonomy over its own fate and give power to a governing body which has proven itself to be less than sympathetic to the Jewish state.
Obama could accomplish this feat with little effort. France has been attempting to insert itself into the conflict by moderating talks for months; if the US refused to veto a French resolution on the issue, it would likely pass.
Whatever parameters imposed by the UN “would be unacceptable to any Israeli government, left or right,” said the article.
The editorial concluded by advising Obama to stay out of it, forcing the Palestinians to come to direct negotiations.
“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.”