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November 7, 2016 7:09 am

Israel, Jewish Groups Fear an Obama ‘December Surprise’ at the UN

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President Barack Obama. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

President Barack Obama. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Major Jewish organizations are united in their opposition to what is rumored to be President Barack Obama’s “December surprise” to undercut Israel and bolster the campaign for a Palestinian state.

According to unverified reports, Obama is considering six possible steps concerning Israel that he would take before the inauguration of the next president. This is according to Jonathan Schanzer, the  vice president of the Washington think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

One option is unilateral US recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a sovereign “state of Palestine.” Such a step would be “harmful to the prospects of achieving peace,” said Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center. “Such a unilateral action would reinforce the notion to the Palestinians that they can achieve their goals by some means other than direct negotiations with the government of Israel.”

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Attempting to “impose peace” will never work, said Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress-North America. She told JNS.org that the only way to achieve “a genuine and lasting peace” is if both sides demonstrate “a desire for peace. And, so far, Israel is the only party that has done so. … The Palestinian Authority has refused time and again to return to the negotiating table.”

Two other options Obama is weighing, according to Schanzer, would be to support a United Nations Security Council resolution defining the terms for the creation of “Palestine,” or a UN resolution targeting Jewish settlements. The Obama Administration could either vote in favor of a Security Council resolution, or simply allow the measure to pass by not vetoing it.

Allowing such UN action would burden future US presidents with “the enormous negative fallout,” according to Cliff Smith, Washington project director of the Middle East Forum. The fallout could include a Palestinian state becoming “a virtually ungovernable hot bed of terrorism that would threaten not just Israel, but the interests of the United States and our allies,” Smith told JNS.org.

Members of Congress are hoping to head off a December surprise. Representatives Edward Royce (R-CA) and Elliot Engel (D-NY), leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recently authored House Resolution 165, which states that the US “should continue to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel.”

A similar resolution, introduced earlier this year by Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Gwen Graham (D-FL.), is still pending, but so far has 25 co-sponsors.

Lamborn told JNS.org that it would take “chutzpah” for Obama to undertake a major policy step regarding Israel in the last days of his presidency. Lamborn warned that a UN or US declaration along the lines contemplated “would virtually criminalize settlements, open up such activity to prosecution by the International Criminal Court, and give credence to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.”

According to rumors, small differences are being ironed out between the resolutions, and a single resolution is expected to be voted on in the near future.

In recent months, Obama has heard from a majority of Congress members who signed group letters urging opposition to UN actions against Israel.

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spokesman Marshall Wittman told JNS.org that his organization supports the Royce-Engel resolution and “has been supportive of the efforts of the 88 senators and 394 house members who have signed letters to the president urging him to veto a one-sided UN resolution.”

Obama’s fourth option would be to act directly, rather than through the UN, by delivering a Rose Garden speech outlining his vision of the parameters of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, Schanzer said.

American Jewish Committee spokesman Kenneth Bandler warned against that approach. “More speeches or UN resolutions cannot substitute for negotiating the details of the permanent agreement,” he told JNS.org. The US should “confront the Palestinian leadership and its Arab allies, who are intent on misusing international forums to rewrite long established history by negating any Jewish links to the land.”

The last two options on Obama’s desk involve US action against the settlements. That could mean stripping American Jewish charities of their tax-exempt status if they assist settlements, or issuing an executive order to penalize the settlements or their American supporters.

These options are the least like to be implemented, Schanzer said.

Part of the problem for the Administration is it would involve defining anything beyond the 1967 lines as an “illegal settlement,” which would include large parts of Jerusalem.

The result would be that a Jewish organization might trigger US sanctions merely by sending a tour group to visit the Western Wall, for example. Major American Jewish organizations, like the Jewish National Fund and American Friends of Hebrew University, would be affected. That would create an unprecedented clash between American Jewry and the outgoing president that would spill over into the Jewish community’s relationship with the next president.

Critics say that an Obama “December surprise” against Israel is likely to end as badly as the “December surprise” of 1988. During the weeks between former President Ronald Reagan’s departure and George H.W. Bush’s inauguration, the US recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), claiming Yasser Arafat had sincerely accepted Israel and forsaken terrorism.

Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, former minister for congressional affairs at Israel’s embassy in Washington from 1989 to 1992, told JNS.org that the underlying flaw in US policy toward Arafat was “that the State Department decided in advance that Israel was the bad guy and that the Palestinians wanted peace, so the US refused to accept the reality that Arafat was still sponsoring the intifada and other terrorism.” In May 1990, evidence of Arafat’s continued involvement in terrorism had become so overwhelming that President Bush had no choice but to end US contact with the PLO.

“The same thing is bound to happen if President Obama pulls some kind of ‘December surprise’ this time,” Ettinger said. “Pressuring Israel and appeasement of terrorists never results in peace. That policy backfires every time, and it will backfire on Obama, too.”

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  • YJ Draiman

    Arabs Recognized Israel – 1919 in all of Palestine aka The Land of Israel

    The Arab position is that Jewish communities and settlements on the West Bank and Gaza are “illegal”, because they interfere with the right, usually articulated with vague references to international law, of the Arabs to create an all-Arab state west of the Jordan. In addition, most of the Arab population in the West Bank (aka Judea and Samaria) and Gaza, according to poll data, support the idea of Arab control over all of “historic Palestine”, which is to say, they support Israel’s destruction. History stands witness to the falseness of these claims.

    The fact is that the international community, including the emerging Arab nations, recognized Israel at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, which was held by the victorious Allies in order to settle international questions after the 1918 armistice ended World War I. An official Arab and Zionist delegation, as well as delegations from nations and groups from around the world, were invited to attend the conference. The head of the Arab delegation, Emir Feisal, great-grandfather of Abdallah, the present King of Jordan, agreed that all of “Palestine” would be the Jewish homeland.

    Feisal accepted the British Balfour Declaration of Nov. 2, 1917, which afforded recognition to a Jewish national homeland, and agreed with the Zionist delegation, stating, “All such measures shall be adopted as we afford the fullest guarantee of carrying into effect the British Government’s Balfour Declaration.” Emir Feisal confirmed this determination in a March 3, 1919 letter to Harvard Law Professor, and later US Supreme Court Justice, Felix Frankfurter, to whom he wrote: “Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted by the Zionist organization to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as modest and proper. We will do our best, insofar as we are concerned, to help them through. We will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home.”

    In exchange for Arab recognition of Israel, the Allied powers, in 1919, agreed to the eventual sovereignty of almost 20 Arab states, covering vast oil-rich lands totaling over 12 million sq. km., after a period of mandatory oversight by European powers. The Europeans would proceed to draw the borders of their respective mandates and, in essence, create the system of Arab states that would emerge out of the remnants of the old Turkish Ottoman Empire. In 1922, a couple of years after the Conference, in a land for peace deal, the British would violate the Agreement and split Mandatory Jewish Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish Mandate using the Jordan River as the line of demarcation. The Arabs were granted East Palestine, or Transjordan, which would later become Arab Jordan and expelled all the Jews, while West Palestine, or Cis-Jordan, would become the Jewish National homeland of Israel.

    In 1948, after the British abandoned their obligation, upon Israel’s declaration of Independence from Britain, Jordan and Egypt, by use of aggressive military force, illegally occupied portions of the internationally recognized Jewish State. The Arab occupation continued until Israel reasserted its sovereignty in June 1967, after defending itself against an aggressive military campaign launched by combined Arab forces. Following the 1967 war, UN Resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from “occupied liberated territories.” Israel proceeded to fulfill the letter and spirit of UN Resolution 242 when (while the Arabs did not), in 1978, it concluded a peace treaty with Egypt and withdrew from the only territory that was, in fact, occupied and liberated by Israel – the Egyptian reoccupied the Sinai Peninsula. Since that time, Israel has existed within borders that are, and have been since 1919, recognized by the nations of the world, including the Arab nations.

    In light of the seditious opinions of the majority of the Arab population in the West Bank and Gaza, and the murderous campaign that has been launched from that territory against Jewish citizens, its time for Israel to stop playing along with the charade and re-assert its legitimate sovereignty over its internationally recognized territory of all the territory west of the Jordan River. While it would be reasonable for Israel to consider the establishment of a regional elected Arab Authority on the West Bank and Gaza, Israel would be acting entirely within international law and custom if it did what any nation would do in similar circumstances: try those involved in conspiring to overthrow the state by violent means and expel them.
    It is also important to mention, that the Arab countries have terrorized and expelled over a million Jewish families and their children, the Arab countries also confiscated all their assets, personal, businesses, homes and over 120,000 sq. km. of Jewish owned land for over 2,300 years, which is valued in the trillions of dollars. Most of the expelled Jewish families and their children now reside in Israel and comprise over half the population.
    YJ Draiman

    • Olivia DavidaBernstein

      Dear Contributor, I cannot with respect agree. There are over 150 UN Resolutions and NONE of them express your sentiments. Indeed UN Security Council Resolutions 476 and 478 declared that Israel’s “eternal claim” to Jerusalem was NULL and VOID. The US accepted these Resolutions and moreover the US has supported UN Resolutions condemning settlement activity. The US Government views settlements as illegitimate and the EU and UK view settlements and expansion of them as a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. The International Court of Justice, UN and EU condemned the monstrous 720 km “wall” as illegal. The EU have Settlement Guidelines and Settlement Labelling. Even the UK Government has demanded an end to illegal colonies. Palestine is a UN non-member STATE and was recognised (again in 2012) this time as a UN non-member STATE with a massive 138 votes which included Western democracies. Palestine is registered with 54 UN Agencies and also Palestine is recognised by the Catholic Vatican Church. Regarding ancestory, Palestinians are Semitic people also and trace their heritage to a time prior to God’s revelation to Moses in 1200 BC. Incidentally Jericho in Palestine (officially) is 10000 years old and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth.

  • LtcHoward

    Lean on Representative Adam Schiff, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and
    ADL head Jeffrey Greenblatt to publicly warn the president. Trump is criticized by the Democrats for “creating doubts iwith our NATO allies” but here is a matter of practice Obama always tries to keep Israel spinning in the wind. When American Jews tell Obama that they are united then Obama will abandon his “red line” toward Israel. Now you know why J St. should not be part of the big Jewish tent .

  • Victoria poupko

    As I said many times, the only way out of the hatred to Israel is to have Trump president. Hillary will continue and worsen Obama relation w/ Israel, as she did it in 2011 hysterically screaming 45 minutes by telephone talk with Netaniahu to liquidate all block posts and shut down all settlements. Hillary (as Obama) is an enemy. Trump is a friend

  • Bonnie Geller

    And who is to blame for him getting elected in the first place? Who funded him, worked to get him elected and voted for him twice? This man was a 20 year member of the most notorious Jew hating Black church in the US, run by the infamous Rev. Wright. He only quit when he decided to run and needed Jewish money and expertise. Would the Jews have voted for someone in KKK for 20 years? Of course not. Yet this man was in the equivalent organization with the same deep hatred of Jews. The only Jews he condones are the bowing, servile set of Jews who know “their place” as underlings who worship this man as a god and an Emperor, just because of his colour. Jews would have run the other way if he was white and attended for 20 years the most Jew hating white church in the US. Obama’s first international speech was in Cairo, chosen deliberately where he screamed he would not let Jewish money or power sway him, and yet the stupid suicidal American Jews still kept funding him and worshipping him and voting for him. The American Jews who voted for him, funded him, and worked for him will have the blood of six and half million Israeli Jews dripping from their hands if he gets his way.The American Jews have absolutely no comprehension that if Israel goes, they go as well, as it will become worse than France and Belgium, or the early 1930s of Germany for Jews, mark my word.

  • gornisht

    Slime fills in the cracks! Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis!!!

  • Gnomercy9 ✓Jewish

    Obama can do as he wishes but the Statesman Netanyahu denied him what he really wanted….. Israel’s claim to the Liberated Territories.

  • watsa46

    IL will deal with it!
    Who knows, perhaps Russia or China will use their veto!!!

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