An Obama parting gift to Israel?‎

An Obama parting gift to Israel?‎ Israel Hayom, Richard Baehr, October 2, 2016

(Please see also, Another area where Congress must be ready to oppose the president. — DM)

U.S. President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State John ‎Kerry all flew off to Israel and attended the funeral of Shimon Peres, the ‎last remaining ‎political figure from modern Israel’s founding generation. ‎Former Secretary ‏of State Hillary Clinton‎, ‎the current Democratic Party nominee for president‎, had at one point been listed to attend‎, ‎but did not make the trip‎.‎

The United States is fewer than six weeks away from the conclusion of what is now ‎a ‎tight presidential contest. The race conceivably could soon lean more toward ‎Clinton ‎after the widely watched first debate last Monday night (84 million viewers) ‎between Clinton ‎and Republican nominee Donald Trump, which most pundits ‎suggested she won, a ‎conclusion supported by results from the first polls released after the debate.

However, it has ‎been an unusual and surprising election contest, and there are no ‎guarantees that the ‎broader voting public saw things the same way their ‎media superiors expected it to see them. ‎

The high-level attendance at the funeral by Obama and Bill Clinton will ‎certainly be a plus for Hillary Clinton’s prospects to win a large share of ‎the Jewish vote in ‎closely contested states such as Florida and Pennsylvania. Obama ‎won ‎about seven of every 10 Jewish votes in 2012, down from about eight in 10 in 2008. ‎Bill ‎Clinton scored even higher than this in his two runs for the White House, in 1992 ‎and ‎‎1996, so Hillary Clinton can only benefit from association with presidents with far ‎more ‎popular support than she has demonstrated so far. Both Obama and Bill Clinton issued ‎statements full ‎of praise for Peres’ long career and also his commitment both to ‎keep Israel strong but ‎also to seek peace.‎

Obama’s tribute may be a harbinger of something more to come, ‎presumably in the nine ‎weeks he has left in the White House after the Nov. 8 vote has been ‎cast. ‎The president has just concluded an agreement with ‎Israel for a 10-year military aid bill. ‎The most contentious part of that agreement ‎was Israel’s acceptance that if Congress ‎votes for more assistance in the first ‎two years of the agreement than the agreed $3.8 billion ‎annual amount, it ‎would have to return the excess to the United States. There are ‎constitutional separation-of-‎powers issues that arise from the agreement, and already Trump has said ‎he does not consider himself bound by the limits, a view also ‎taken by a large ‎number of members in Congress.

In any case, with this settled, Obama ‎may feel free ‎to try his hand at some legacy-building on the Israeli-Palestinian track, an ‎area in ‎which his record of failure follows a long pattern of presidents who thought ‎they ‎had the magic elixir to achieve the two-state solution.‎

What has been rumored, with no denials offered by either the State Department or ‎the ‎White House, is that Obama may seek to obtain passage of a Security Council ‎resolution ‎in which the president offers his view on the parameters of the deal ‎between the two ‎parties who should end the conflict. As with all such two-state ‎plans, Israeli settlement ‎activity is viewed as the primary culprit in the conflict. ‎Members of the Senate, ‎anticipating some new initiative of this sort, have now sent ‎a letter to the White House, ‎signed by 88 members from both parties, requesting ‎that the president, for the duration of ‎his term, continue traditional American policy, ‎which has been to block any one-sided ‎U.N. resolutions targeting Israel.‎

‎”Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations risk ‎locking the parties into ‎positions that will make it more ‎difficult to return to the negotiating table and make ‎the ‎compromises necessary for peace,” the senators wrote, ‎adding that the U.S. “must ‎continue to insist that neither we ‎nor any other outsider substitute for the parties to ‎the ‎conflict.”‎

Quoting from a 2011 address Obama gave to the U.N. General ‎Assembly in which he said that ‎‎”peace will not come ‎through statements and resolutions at the United Nations,” ‎the ‎senators reminded him that his ‎‎”administration has consistently upheld the ‎long-standing ‎U.S. policy of opposing — and if necessary vetoing — one-‎sided U.N. ‎Security Council resolutions.”‎

Longtime peace processor Dennis Ross, a likely appointee ‎to a Clinton administration if ‎she wins in November, ‎argued that the president’s willingness to try to obtain ‎a ‎resolution with a defined peace plan would be far higher if Trump wins ‎the presidential contest. Then the ‎initiative could be seen as a way to try to bind the incoming ‎president to an Obama-preferred course of action. Further ‎evidence that such a plan is in ‎the works, conceivably ‎regardless of who wins the White House, was a statement ‎by an ‎unusually angry Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry, busy as always ‎attending to his many other ‎diplomatic failures — the never-ending Syrian carnage, ‎the ‎continued appeasement and excuse offering for the ‎behavior of the U.S.’s new Iranian ‎‎”partners,” relations with ‎Russia, seemed ready to pounce once more into the ‎Israeli-‎Palestinian diplomatic wasteland by condemning Israeli ‎settlement activity, as well ‎as offering a standard (for ‎appearance of balance) criticism of Palestinian incitement. ‎

It is hard not to see this as laying the groundwork for the ‎president cynically offering the ‎‎”Obama peace plan” as his ‎final tribute to the late Shimon Peres, who was ‎always ‎committed to the two-state solution and achieving peace. ‎The United Nations is of ‎course a vipers’ nest of Israel hatred ‎with its obsessive and uniquely hostile treatment of ‎the ‎Jewish state on any number of issues. ‎

Other than a Security Council resolution that President Jimmy ‎Carter allowed to get ‎through in 1980 by abstaining on a ‎resolution calling Israel’s unification of Jerusalem ‎illegal, ‎America’s role in Security Council ‎debates on Israel has generally been to try to water ‎down ‎condemnations of Israel. Failing that, the U.S. has ‎vetoed one-sided ‎resolutions aimed at Israel. ‎

Carter’s acquiescence in the U.N. Security Council resolution ‎cost him with Jewish voters. ‎He won only 45% of the Jewish ‎vote, to 39% for Ronald Reagan and 15% for third-‎party ‎candidate John Anderson, on his way to losing 44 states, the ‎worst defeat ever for ‎an incumbent president. No Democrat ‎since 1920 has performed worse among Jewish ‎voters. This ‎presumably is why Obama’s latest attempt to squeeze ‎Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‎will come, if it does, after the presidential election, when it can do no immediate ‎electoral ‎damage to his party or preferred candidate. ‎

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Obama made ‎clear that he plans to be an activist former president, pursuing the ‎causes he cares about. Attacking police and the ‎criminal ‎justice system for their alleged racism is a near certainty. ‎Climate change ‎seems to be a big matter for Obama, as well. ‎

But eight years of bad relations with Netanyahu did not come from nowhere. Obama is ‎one of ‎the more ideological presidents the U.S. has had (Reagan, ‎Carter, and ‎Franklin Roosevelt are others). His vision of Israeli-Palestinian ‎relations comes out ‎of his “Third World” view of ‎colonialism, and the power of the strong versus the ‎weak, ‎their victims. If he can take one more shot at what he ‎regards as balancing ‎the scales and weighing in on the side ‎of the Palestinians, he will. Those last nine ‎weeks of the Obama presidency are a red-alert warning to Israel and many ‎others.‎

Explore posts in the same categories: 2016 presidential debates, Hillary Clinton and Israel, Israel, Israel settlements, Obama and Israel, UN Security Council

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