Beware of a final Obama shot at Israel

President Obama won’t act on Israel until after the election, so he won’t hurt Hillary Clinton at the polls.
President Obama won’t act on Israel until after the election, so he won’t hurt Hillary Clinton at the polls. Getty Images

Last week, the U.N.’s premier cultural agency, UNESCO, approved a resolution viciously condemning Israel for alleged trespasses and violations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Except the resolution never uses that term for Judaism’s holiest shrine. It treats it as only a Muslim site, a deliberate attempt to eradicate its connection to Judaism.

This is an insult to Judaism and Christianity. It makes a mockery of the Gospels, which chronicle the story of a Galilean Jew whose life and ministry unfolded in the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem and the Temple.

This resolution is the extreme of the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. It features the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), now growing at Western universities and some Protestant churches. It extends even to some parts of the Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders tried to introduce into the Democratic platform a plank more unfavorable to Israel. He failed, but WikiLeaks emails show Clinton campaign officials and consultants saying Hillary Clinton shouldn’t mention Israel in speeches.

And what to make of the White House’s press release correction about last month’s funeral of Shimon Peres? The original one identified the location as “Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel.” The correction crossed out “Israel.”

Mount Herzl isn’t in disputed East Jerusalem. It’s in West Jerusalem, in pre-1967 Israel’s limits.

Such gestures are pinpricks compared to what Israel faces at the Obama presidency’s end. As John Hannah of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recently wrote in Foreign Policy, there have been indications for months President Obama might go to the U.N. and unveil his final status parameters of a two-state solution. These would be enshrined in a Security Council resolution that could officially recognize a Palestinian state on the territory Israel got in the 1967 Six-Day War.

There is a reason eight previous U.S. administrations resisted that move: It overthrows Middle East peacemaking’s central premise – land for peace. In which Palestinians get their state after negotiations in which both agree on boundaries, exchange recognition and declare a permanent end to the conflict.

Endorsing in advance a Palestinian state and essentially a full Israeli withdrawal removes the Palestinian incentive to negotiate and strips Israel of territorial bargaining chips like it used to achieve peace with Egypt.

The result would be not just perpetual war but incalculable damage to Israel. Consider one example: the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, destroyed and ethnically cleansed of Jews by its Arab conquerors in the war of 1948-1949. It was rebuilt by Israel after 1967. It would now be open to the absurd judicial charge that the Jewish state’s possession of the Jewish Quarter constitutes a criminal occupation of another country.

Israel would be hauled endlessly into courts (national and international) to face sanctions, boycotts (now under color of law) and arrest of its leaders. All for violating a U.N. mandate to which no Israeli government could accede.

Before the election, Obama dare not attempt this final legacy item for fear of damaging Hillary Clinton. His last opportunity comes after Election Day. The one person who might deter him, points out Hannah, is Clinton herself, by committing Obama to do nothing before he leaves office that would tie her hands should she become president.

Clinton’s supporters who care about Israel and peace need to urge her to do that now. It will soon be too late. Soon Obama will be free to deliver a devastating parting shot to Israel and the prime minister he detests.