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December 26, 2016 5:18 pm

Ex-State Department Negotiator: Everyone Loses From Obama Administration’s Abstention From Vote on Anti-Israeli Settlement UN Security Council Resolution

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Former State Department Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller. Photo: Wilson Center.

Former State Department Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller. Photo: Wilson Center.

The Obama administration’s decision to abstain from Friday’s UN Security Council vote on an anti-Israeli settlement resolution was “ill-timed” and “ill-advised,” a former US State Department Middle East negotiator told The Algemeiner on Sunday.

“I can’t divine a single positive element of consequence of this resolution,” Aaron David Miller — a vice president at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington, DC and a CNN global affairs analyst — said. “I don’t think it’s going to lead to anything of real value and it will create all kinds of problems.”

Furthermore, Miller said, “there are very clear losers here.”

“The Palestinians will lose because I think this will likely accelerate settlement building, no constrain it,” Miller explained. “And [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu lost, because he failed to stop the resolution despite deploying both President-elect [Donald] Trump and [Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah] el-Sisi, who I suspect he has embarrassed mightily. And I think that’s going to create the perception that in fact Netanyahu’s whole effort to legitimize the settlement enterprise has not succeeded.”

As for the Obama administration, Miller said “they are getting hammered mercilessly” over the resolution, and the US Congress is threatening to defund the UN.

Miller downplayed the notion that President Barack Obama decided to abstain from the vote because of a “personal animus” against Netanyahu. Instead, he believes Obama saw this as a last chance to “put himself on record” as stating that the “settlements are a problem and [Netanyahu] never got the memo.”

However, Miller said there is still a “second shoe to drop” before Obama vacates the White House, in the form of a speech by Secretary of State John Kerry on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which could be delivered as soon as this week.

“I think it will be an effort to lay out American views on elements of a two-state solution and what each side has to do to create an environment for serious negotiations,” Miller said. “Whether or not it will break new ground of any substance, I don’t know.”

In any case, according to Miller, Kerry’s speech “won’t change anything.”

“The reality is the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is not ready for prime time,” he said. “It’s missing several key ingredients and unless those ingredients are restored, it’s hard to imagine that this is going to go anywhere other than south.”

Once Trump takes office on Jan. 20, Miller pointed out, he “can’t reverse the Security Council resolution, but he can certainly through his actions and political statements basically walk away from it.”

“I think this may well prompt the Trump administration to go ahead with what it was inclined to do anyway, which is to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Miller continued.

Turning to the controversy surrounding Trump’s recent pick of attorney David Friedman to serve as the next US envoy to Israel, Miller said, “American ambassadors generally don’t guide and direct US foreign policy. It’s usually the other way around. And I suspect once [Secretary of State nominee Rex] Tillerson and [Secretary of Defense nominee James] Mattis get into this, Friedman’s voice may be muted somewhat.”

“The Trump administration has to figure out what its policies regarding the Israeli-Palestinian issue will be,” Miller continued. “So far, all we have is inclinations and proclivities. Governing is about choosing, and the question is what kind of choices the Trump administration is going to make.”

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  • Tedy

    Who cares what Kerry has to say in his goodbye speech after eight whole years during which he has done little if any in advancing the Middle East towards real understandings amongst the parties? Best he could do now is declare that he has failed and walk away gracefully.

  • Max

    The words from another friggen Jewish liberal… another Dershowitz….no friend to the Jews nor to Israel.

  • watsa46

    PA & Hamas have NEVER made a sensible counter-offer and have never changed their respective charter. They will accept nothing short of a Judenrein OSS!

  • dante

    I don’t know if the Egyptian president feels embarrassed or not but he has nothing about which to be embarrassed: al-Sissi made a decision that was in the best interest of his country and he has had more than ample experience with the errors and misjudgments of an obtuse (but supremely arrogant) American president who has an unequaled record of foreign policy blunders.

  • len

    After everything is said and done with no winners but all losers I can’t help coming to the conclusion that this was Obama’s well thought out goodbye present to Netanyahu. It in itself does nothing and achieves nothing for Obama and his legacy because of the total reversal in Policy that Trump will bring. Obama has been planning this from the day he met Netanyahu and it’s only about him and Netanyahu otherwise there would be a realization of the futility of his actions!

  • Ms. W

    The fact that “everyone loses” due to this UN action of Obama’s, is similar to the fact that “everyone loses” due to last week’s Executive Order of Obama’s, abolishing the law that required visitors to the US to register on a special list if they come from countries that are known to harbor active Islamist terrorist groups! (See
    Similarly, Obama has pardoned or commuted the sentences of scores of convicted drug traffickers.
    This proves that Obama is not simply of a different philosophical bent to that of the incoming regime. It is proof that, unfortunately, Obama is spitefully abusing his office and is attempting to carry out a “scorched earth” policy before leaving office.