Facing the U.N.

Facing the U.N.

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

To begin at the end, the forthcoming ruckus at the U.N. over Palestinian statehood and/or recognition is much form and little substance. It is important for many Palestinians, for Abbas, and for Europeans but truly only to underscore their assertion about the rights of the Palestinians and their belief that Israel has not been sufficiently forthcoming in the peace process.  For Israel the continuing and escalating violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere suggests that this is hardly a time for dramatic international action directly or even indirectly supporting the Palestinians. 

In fact, the U.N. proposal has no geopolitical and strategic meaning. This is not to say that a U.S. vote (or even abstention) supporting a Palestinian initiative is meaningless except in political terms, but the underlying issues very much outweigh the substance of the actual vote.

This Security Council meeting and proposed vote should never have provoked even a semblance of crisis between Israel and the U.S.  If Bibi had decent personal relations with the U.S. and had been more forthcoming over the past year to Secretary Kerry’s efforts, a critical meeting in Rome over whether the U.S. will or will not veto a Security a Council resolution would have been handled more efficiently and without any hoopla at a much lower diplomatic level. For Bibi, playing tough is good pre-election politics to insure no defections from his right wing.  For the President, he is in no mood to be make life simple for Netanyahu, especially since there are people at State and in the White House who are of a mind to stick it to Bibi.

The Netanyahu Government has not earned any points from the Obama White House in how they have approached U.S.-Israel relations over the past six years. They have alienated the President and his entire national security policy team with the exception of the Pentagon and the Intelligence community.  Netanyahu has consistently played to the American right (read Republicans) and has appeared to be seeking to garner congressional support at the expense of truly reconciling with the President. All of this has made working with America now much more problematic.  (It would seem that given the recent problematic tests of the new Arrow 3 defense system, Israel would want to make sure that U.S.-Israel relations are in total sync and not facing any challenges.)

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