Obama: Don’t Destroy the Peace Process by Turning it Over to the U.N.
by Alan M. Dershowitz
November 1, 2016
The Obama Administration is sending strong signals that once the election is over it may make a major push to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the United Nations. Despite repeated invitations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Palestinian Authority President Abbas to meet without preconditions, the stalemate persists. Some blame it on Palestinian unwillingness to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People and to compromise to the so-called “right of return.” Others — including the current U.S. Administration — lay the blame largely at the feet of the Netanyahu government for continuing to build in the West Bank, most recently approval of between 98 and 300 new homes in Shiloh. Whatever the reasons — and they are complex and multifaceted — President Obama should resist any temptation, during his final weeks in office, to change longstanding American policy — that only direct negotiations between the parties will achieve a lasting peace.
In particular, Obama should veto an expected French resolution in the Security Council establishing an international peace conference under the auspices of the U.N. The general parameters of the French resolution would likely call for:
“Borders based on the 1967 Lines with agreed equivalent land swaps; security arrangements preserving the sovereignty of the Palestinian State and guaranteeing the security of Israel; a fair, equitable, and negotiated solution to the refugee problem; an arrangement making Jerusalem the capital of both states.”
These guidelines may sound reasonable. Indeed, they are strikingly similar to the offers made to and reject by the Palestinian leadership in 2000–2001 from former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and in 2008 by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The U.N., however, has disqualified itself from playing any constructive role in the peace process. Recent attempts by the U.N. to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have produced unmitigated disasters. The so-called Goldstone Report, which sought to investigate allegations of war crimes committed during the 2009 Israeli intervention in Gaza, was so blatantly biased against Israel that Richard Goldstone himself had to retract some of its key findings in 2011.
Since then, the U.N. has done nothing to reassure Israel that it is capable of offering an unbiased forum for negotiations. In the past year alone, the U.N. has singled out Israel for special criticism on issues like health rights, and most laughably, women’s rights, while failing even to mention regimes whose record on these issues is truly abominable. Last year alone, at least twenty separate resolutions were adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, which singled out Israel for special criticism. Most recently UNESCO attempted to erase millennia of Jewish history with regard to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In light of such behavior, the U.S. should not trust that Israel would receive a fair hearing at any U.N. sponsored peace conference.
As Netanyahu said in his most recent speech to the U.N. General Assembly, “The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York.” In other words, the only way forward for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is bilateral negotiations between the two parties. Netanyahu and Abbas must sit down and agree to necessary but painful compromises aimed at establishing a Palestinian state, while addressing Israel’s security concerns, and the realities on the ground. Resolutions such as the proposed French resolution undermine such efforts by encouraging the Palestinians to believe that direct negotiations — and the mutual sacrifices they would entail — are unnecessary, and that a Palestinian state can be achieved on the basis of U.N. resolutions alone. It would also make it more difficult, if not impossible, for the Palestinian Authority to accept anything less than that already given them by the U.N. — which would in turn guarantee the failure of any realistic negotiations.
Read more here: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9238/obama-un-israel