Barack Obama has already gotten a rebuke from Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue of settlements, and perhaps he’s looking for revenge. According to the New York Times, the White House has spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to make Israel pay for not following the Road Map’s prohibition on settlement growth:
As President Obama prepares to head to the Middle East this week, administration officials are debating how to toughen their stance against any expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The measures under discussion — all largely symbolic — include stepping back from America’s near-uniform support for Israel in the United Nations if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel does not agree to a settlement freeze, administration officials said.
Other measures include refraining from the instant Security Council veto of United Nations resolutions that Israel opposes and making use of Mr. Obama’s bully pulpit to criticize the settlements, officials said. Placing conditions on loan guarantees to Israel, as the first President Bush did nearly 20 years ago, is not under discussion, officials said.
Still, talk of even symbolic actions that would publicly show the United States’ ire with Israel, its longtime ally, would be a sharp departure from the previous administration, which limited its distaste with Israel’s settlement expansions to carefully worded diplomatic statements that called them “unhelpful.”
I wonder how much time the White House spends on finding ways to penalize the Palestinians for not adhering to the Road Map? After all, Hamas has spent the last couple of years launching rockets from Gaza. Barack Obama responded by giving them almost a billion dollars for rebuilding after the Israelis finally had enough and stomped on Hamas.
Israel will have to give back on settlements eventually, in some manner, if and when the Palestinians actually work towards a real two-state solution that accepts Israel’s existence. The logistics will call for major changes, as national sovereignty on both sides will be impossible to defend in the current configuration. But that doesn’t mean that Israel has to act unilaterally, especially while the supposedly moderate Mahmoud Abbas rejects offers from Israel that would have resolved this very issue in his favor.
As for abandoning Israel at the UN, well, that hardly surprises when Obama chooses advisors like Samantha Power and Susan Rice. It does, however, set up an interesting position for Obama at the UN, an organization he fulsomely praised during his campaign. If the UN Security Council starts passing ridiculous resolutions prompted by its Human Rights Council about Israel’s supposed human-rights violations while ignoring Iran, China, Cuba, and the rest of the rogues’ gallery, will he help enforce them with action against Israel and guarantee a political blow to the Democratic Party? Or will he simply ignore them, making the UN even more irrelevant than they are now?