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Obama’s Rearguard Action Against Israel

The fallout continues as events develop to a climax during President Barack Obama’s last month in office. To recap what has transpired thus far, on Thursday, December 22, Egypt’s ambassador to the UN, sitting as a member of the 15-member Security Council, presented a surprise resolution for consideration condemning Israel for establishing “settlements” on disputed territory claimed by the Palestinian Arabs. Shortly after presenting the resolution, Egypt was persuaded to withdraw it from consideration sine die.

Immediately after the resolution was withdrawn, members of the current Likud-led Israeli government began to voice allegations that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry had some secret involvement in the matter. Within a matter of hours, four other current members of the Security Council – New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia, and Venezuela – had reissued the resolution for consideration, and pressed for a vote. On Friday, December 23, the resolution was passed by the Security Council by a vote of 14-0; the United States abstained, overturning decades of American policy regarding anti-Israel measures. The other ten members of the Council, aside from the four countries jointly presenting the resolution, that voted for it were Angola, Egypt, Japan, Spain, Ukraine, and Uruguay, as well as the permanent members, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.

Israeli government sources insist that they have “iron-clad evidence” of American secret involvement in drafting the resolution, and specifically that Vice President Joseph Biden had personally applied pressure on Ukraine, still engaged in an on-again, off-again armed conflict with the Russian Federation, to go along with the vote. Ukraine’s current prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, is Jewish.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a scathing rebuke of the Security Council, has refused to accept the resolution or to act on it. He pointed out that this same Security Council has dithered and done nothing about the sputtering Syrian civil war, which has claimed 500,000 lives and sent waves of refugees fleeing into neighboring countries as well as farther afield into Europe, but instead has chosen to concentrate on the only stable parliamentary democracy in the region, Israel, vowing “consequences” for all those participating in the vote. Those consequences have begun to take shape over the last few days.

Israel’s first action was to recall immediately her ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal. Simultaneously, Israel announced that it was “limiting” its diplomatic contacts with all of those other Council members with whom she has diplomatic relations, canceling any state visits by Israeli officials to those countries, or by any official from those countries to Israel. Accordingly, a planned state visit by Groysman has been cancelled. Israel will be reluctant to cut off diplomatic relations entirely with Britain, France, and Spain – all members of the European Union (though the UK voted in a referendum recently to withdraw from the Union) -- both because the EU is Israel’s largest single trading partner, and also because of the significant Jewish populations of the UK and France. Israel has no current diplomatic relations with Malaysia and Venezuela.