With the Arab street in revolt, and its despots doing what despots do — violently suppressing dissent to prop up their decades-long reigns of self-serving cruelty — the UN Security Council gathered in New York to debate — surprise — Israel. Prompted by a shortsighted request of the Palestinian Authority, members decided this historic and bloody month was an opportune time to condemn Israeli settlement building.
This cynical exercise in subject changing diverted the world body and the Obama administration at the very moment when nations should have been focusing on game-changing developments in democracy, human rights, and nation-building. The only problem, at least for the UN’s mighty and mouthy anti-Israel bloc, is that the focus then would have been directed at them.
President Obama deserves praises for vetoing this underhanded move and reminding the PA and the rest of the world that discussion of the settlements, like every other aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, must be dealt with in face-to-face talks between the parties themselves. Settlements are certainly part of that discussion. As David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, reminds us this week, “Settlement policy is, indeed, highly relevant to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a final peace accord. In fact, it’s one of the central issues.”
Lately, some American-Jewish groups have preferred to pretend otherwise, and have even called on Israel to allow more building in disputed territories. That too is a diversion and provocation that should be avoided.
When it comes to Israel, the UN has shown itself to be less than useless, and in propping up Palestinian delusions, extremely harmful. Israel and the Palestinians must make their separate peace, with the help of the United States and the handful of friends that are truly working in the parties’ best interests.
As for the poor anti-Israel bloc at the UN, they may have to find another way to keep busy. That might just mean acknowledging the misery — and momentum for change — in their own backyards.