The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.
But the Palestinians rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution on Friday, according to officials familar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospect that the Obama adminstration will cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.
Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with Israel and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to its key ally to stop its construction of new settlements. The Palestinian delegation, along with Lebanon, the Security Council's only Arab member state, have asked the council's president this evening to schedule a meeting for Friday. But it remained unclear whether the Palestinian move today to reject the U.S. offer is simply a negotiating tactic aimed at extracting a better deal from Washington.
Step One: We offer to partially sell out our strongest ally in the Middle East by signing on to a watered-down condemnation of said ally, in hopes of derailing a harsher resolution.
Step Two: Our stalwart friend's sworn enemies -- undoubtedly eager to burnish their anti-Israel credentials after some recent damaging revelations at home -- reject our offer, opting to press ahead with their more comprehensive attack.
Step Three: Faced with little choice, we veto the unacceptable resolution, crafted by a morally bankrupt, hopelessly impotent body -- which we continue to host and fund.
Chalk this up as yet another humiliating sequence of events for the United States of America at the hands of hostile United Nations member states. Come to think of it, this scenario must be a radical Islamist's dream come true: Publicly malign the Little Satan (the UN's favorite hobby horse), and embarrass the Great Satan in the process. It's a win-win for the Palestinians; it's a lose-lose for the US and Israel.
This is what "smart power" has wrought. Disgraceful.
UPDATE: It's worth remembering that the underlying controversy here is whether the Israelis have a "right" to establish "settlements" in their own capital city.
UPDATE II: John Podhoretz is mystified and horrified by the Obama Administration's "demented" political instincts on Israel-related issues:
Forget for a moment what such a vote suggests about the worldview of the Obama administration at a time of potentially historic peril for Israel, not only from Iran but also from what might happen as a result of the uprisings in Arab countries. An anti-Israel vote at the U.N. with these kinds of numbers would be would be a demented political act for the Obama administration, which spent much of 2010 trying to undo the damage caused by the president’s bizarrely counterproductive temper tantrum against Bibi Netanyahu—which scuttled a year’s worth of diplomatic efforts by his own negotiator, George Mitchell.UPDATE III: Pro-Israel Democrat Anthony Weiner is not impressed:
This is too clever by half. Instead of doing the correct and principled thing and vetoing an inappropriate and wrong resolution, they now have opened the door to more and more anti-Israeli efforts coming to the floor of the U.N. The correct venue for discussions about settlements and the other aspects of a peace plan is at the negotiating table. Period.
Of all the ways to describe this foreign policy posture, "too cute by half" is not at the top of my list.
UPDATE IV: Obama's potential 2012 adversaries are beginning to pile on. Gov. Tim Pawlenty's statement:
"The Obama administration has shown an astonishing unwillingness to stand by Israel at the United Nations, an organization with a long history of blaming Israel for just about every problem in the Middle East. It’s time for our UN ambassador to finally show some leadership, draw a line in the sand, and defend our historic ally. Global stability depends more than ever on a respected America that is loyal to our allies and realistic about the malice of our adversaries."