Photo Credit: Pete Souza / WikiCommons
Former President Barack Obama

{Originally posted to the Legal Insurrection website}

The year was bookmarked by the passage of UN Security Council resolution 2231 in January, giving U.N. authority to the Iran Nuclear Deal, and resolution 2334 last week, purporting to declare illegal the presence of Jews in areas in which form a key part of Jewish history.


In the case of the Iran deal, the United States led the Security Council and voted for the resolution enshrining the nuclear deal into what passes for international law. In the case of the more recent resolution, the United States abstained, according to some incoherent reasons spouted by US Ambassador Samantha Power, but it looks like, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charges, that Obama orchestrated it. (Yesterday, Netanyahu spokesman David Keyes charged that Israel had “ironclad information” that Obama was indeed behind the maneuver}.

In the case of 2231, the Security Council reversed a decade of policy and undermined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by removing nuclear-related sanctions from Iran without insisting that Iran stop enriching uranium first. Obama, of course, obfuscated this by saying that sanctions brought Iran to the table. That’s incredibly misleading. Iran was sanctioned because it was a nuclear outlaw. Not only a nuclear outlaw, but a nuclear outlaw that had threatened and continues the destruction of another member state.

But administration officials insisted that Iran had, during sanctions, neglected too many civilian needs, so it would use the billions to shore up its crumbling infrastructure. Iran said it would use the billions to further its destabilizing activities and has done so. The destruction of eastern Aleppo, is the latest sign that Iran was emboldened by the deal that whitewashed its crimes and convinced its leaders that they could get away with mass murder. (Amb. Power telling Iran, Russia and Syria that they should be ashamed of themselves is not any sort of punishment.)

Eleven months after exonerating Iran, Obama put Israel in the penalty box by allowing a resolution that stated, “that Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law,” meaning of course that the Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem, (which Jews were illegally ethnically cleansed from by Jordan in 1948) is against international law.

This is just a secularized version of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s September 2015 declaration that the PA “won’t allow Jew’s filthy feet” to defile the holy places in Jerusalem. Just as Abbas statement served as a call to arms beginning last year’s “knife intifada,” resolution 2334 has become a call for more terror. That call hasn’t just been made by Hamas, but also by Abbas’s “moderate” Fatah movement.

In other words with its support of these two resolutions it has given Israel’s enemies a license to kill, while limiting what Israel can do to defend itself.

There are other aspects to these twin betrayals that are worth mentioning.

Both show that international outlaws can get what they want by simply waiting. As noted above, Iran hated sanctions and hated being branded an outlaw. With Obama eager to make a deal they saw an opportunity to get their crimes expunged AND keep their illicit uranium enrichment program. Obama said simply that Iran would never agree to scrap its enrichment program if there was to be a deal. (This of course contradicted the common administration refrain that no deal was better than a bad deal.)

But Abbas, too, has benefited from changing circumstances. The Washington Post, which has spent most of the past two months warning that Donald Trump would break with traditional foreign policy, woke up to the fact that Obama has already done that regarding Israel. An editorial Friday observed that Obama had “[reversed] decades of practice by both Democratic and Republican presidents,” of “[vetoing] past resolutions on the grounds that they unreasonably singled out Jewish communities in occupied territories as an obstacle to Middle East peace.”

The editorial also correctly noted, “The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas proved unwilling to negotiate seriously even during the [2010] settlement freeze, and it refused to accept a framework for negotiations painstakingly drawn up by Secretary of State John F. Kerry in 2014.” In other words the failure of the Obama administration to make peace can be traced to Palestinian intransigence.

But as Post editor Jackson Diehl noted back in 2009, Abbas had been reassured by his early meeting with Obama that “the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud.” And as Prof. Jacobson noted back in 2011, that Obama sought to make peace based on the so-called 1967 borders.

This was a change in U.S. policy. First of all, the 1967 borders, prior to the Six-Day-War were the never-meant-to-be-permanent 1949 armistice lines. In fact President Lyndon Johnson, during whose administration the war occurred, believed the armistice lines to be a prescription for renewed war.

Second of all, the basis for calling the territory won by Israel in 1967 “occupied” requires a fraudulent reading of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Fourth Geneva Convention is a point of convergence for both shameful UNSC resolutions as Dore Gold, former Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a conference call last week, “And we are seeing the Iranians using the Shi’ite population from Iraq and as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan and moving them into these areas to alter the demographic balance of the Levant. That is exactly what the Fourth Geneva Convention wanted to address, and that is exactly what is being ignored today by the UN.”

Hypocritically, the Obama administration is refusing to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention to rein in Iranian aggression resulting from the nuclear deal, but using it to vilify Israel.

In short, what Obama has done is used the U.N. to give every benefit of the doubt to Israel’s enemies and to criminalize Israel for existing. This is Obama’s shameful Middle East legacy done with the connivance of the United Nations.



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David Gerstman blogged as Soccer Dad from 2003 to 2010. Formerly a computer programmer, he is now a blogger for The Israel Project’s The Tower blog.