It’s not a total sellout of Israel — our agreement to the statement is contingent upon the Council dropping a formal anti-settlement resolution — but clearly, with Egypt precarious and other American pals suddenly wobbly, we’re going to see a lot more bet-hedging in the region by the White House going forward. We can’t afford to alienate our new “democratic allies,” after all.
Foreign policy will be a much bigger issue in 2012 than anyone thought, my friends.
The U.S. has informed Arab governments that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal…
Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined the new U.S. offer in a closed door meeting on Tuesday with the Arab Group, a bloc of Arab countries from North Africa and the Middle East. In exchange for scuttling the Palestinian resolution, the United States would support the council statement, consider supporting a U.N. Security Council visit to the Middle East, the first since 1979, and commit to supporting strong language criticizing Israel’s settlement policies in a future statement by the Middle East Quartet.
The U.S.-backed draft statement — which was first reported by Al Hurra — was obtained by Turtle Bay. In it, the Security Council “expresses its strong opposition to any unilateral actions by any party, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community, and reaffirms, that it does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process.” The statement also condemns “all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza, and stresses the need for calm and security for both peoples.”
This’ll be spun as something they planned to do all along, but there’s no way Obama’s going to risk upsetting fragile relations with Egypt right now knowing that the Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-American factions are looking for a pretext to tilt the country (further) against us at a decisive moment. So here’s his version of a compromise, siding with the Arab bloc against the settlements so long as we don’t actually have to do anything about it, like cast a vote. The punchline: Our offer hasn’t been agreed to yet, so we may still find ourselves in a worst-of-both-worlds scenario where Israelis are alienated by our willingness to support the statement while Egyptians and Arabs are alienated by our eventual veto of the resolution. Wonderful.
Mind you, this comes on a day when (a) Egypt’s youth movement is calling for a halt to gas shipments to Israel, (b) Jordan’s(!) justice minister is describing Israel as “an enemy and a terrorist state,” and (c) Iran is sending warships through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean to flaunt its new post-Mubarak leverage in the region. (Israel’s foreign minister calls it “something that has not happened in many years.”) In fact, Jay Carney was specifically asked about the Iranian ships at today’s presser and, true to White House form, he punted. This is the new reality in the region — win/win provocations where the U.S. is forced to pander to popular Arab sentiment at a moment of retrenchment and democratization or stick with Israel and risk the consequences of shattered alliances. What could go wrong?
Anthony Weiner has already issued a statement slamming Obama for having “opened the door to more and more anti-Israeli efforts coming to the floor of the U.N.” While you mull, via the Blaze, here’s a blast from the past on the coming age of glorious liberal reform in Egypt.