Though it is not widely appreciated in certain precincts of the Jewish community, President Obama has, throughout his nearly two terms in office, exercised without fail the U.S. veto option in the United Nations Security Council in order to thwart the adoption of resolutions specifically critical of Israel.
Moreover, his record on that score is actually superior to that of prior presidents. Lyndon Johnson chose to allow several anti-Israel UN resolutions to pass, as did every president who followed Mr. Johnson (the number peaked at a shocking twenty-one during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the most infamous case being that of the U.S. vote to condemn Israel for the Iraqi nuclear reactor bombing). Even George W. Bush, widely viewed as highly sympathetic to Israel, had six anti-Israel UN resolutions pass on his watch.
Having said that, there is a growing fear that President Obama’s concern for his legacy may trump his longstanding opposition to unilateral efforts by the Palestinians to gain UN recognition for an independent state.
It has long been clear that Mr. Obama feels frustrated for not having resolved the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Sensing this, the Palestinians plan to introduce a resolution setting forth the boundaries of a Palestinian state. It is a foregone conclusion that there are enough votes for passage unless the U.S. vetoes it.
There are conflicting reports as to what Mr. Obama might do in such a case. Some suggest he would instruct our UN representative to once again cast a veto. Others have it that he would allow a compromise resolution to pass. Still others suggest the president would simply issue a public statement on what he believes should be the ultimate resolution of the border issue.
For the Palestinians to gain this type of foothold would be disastrous in terms of future prospects for realistic negotiations. Third-party interventions have always served to encourage Palestinian recalcitrance. To his underappreciated credit, this has been Mr. Obama’s position throughout his presidency. We can only hope that he’ll stay the course, no matter how tempting a “peacemaker” legacy may seem.