The US has defeated the PLO at the UN Security Council (UNSC) by a first-round knockout, without even using its veto power.
But the humiliation won’t go unnoticed in a region that has been seeking divine intervention when its repeated calls for international intervention had failed to stop aggression and bloodshed.
Behind the UN commotion is a leadership failure on the part of the three concerned parties.
Once again, Palestinian gullibility, American cynicism and Israeli bullying, have degraded the role of the UN in putting an end to the longest case of illegal occupation in memory.
The Palestinian leadership has once again demonstrated its capacity to blow lots of smoke with no fire. Its lack of a strategic vision has rendered its diplomatic steps random or ad-hoc.
Its attempt to frame its effort this week as part of a strategic plan seemed wobbly at best.
It claimed that this was a first step in a three-steps plan that also involves asking for international protection and joining all relevant UN organisations, including the International Criminal Court.
But it also threatened to take similar steps if the resolution didn’t pass!
It’s also clear that the Palestinian diplomats are either terrible at counting votes, or that the US was able to outsmart them, or more likely outmuscle them, when it came to the ninth required vote in support of the resolution.
What’s not clear, and will certainly raise questions, is why did the Palestinian leadership insist on having the vote before the new year when friendly countries to its cause will join the UNSC?
Was it duped by the US into thinking it had got the nine needed votes when it only had eight votes?
My sources tell me it’s the Nigerian diplomats who presumably told their Egyptian counterparts that their country, which already recognises Palestine, would vote yes, but has instead been complicit with Washington to avoid an American veto.
Cynical White House
American insistence on keeping the UN at an arms’ length from the Palestinian issue is nothing new.
At Israel’s insistence, this has been the de facto official US policy for decades.
It allowed Israel’s favorite patron to monopolise the Peace Process for the past two decades, all the while the occupation persisted and the illegal settlements grew and proliferated with no end in sight.
What is new, is the utter certainty of the Obama administration that the Netanyahu government – or any constellation of right-wing parties that are bound to govern Israel in the foreseeable future – do no accept and will not facilitate a two-state solution in what they claim to be their Eretz Yisrael.
And yet, the White House has consistently refused to entertain alternative diplomatic ways to attain a peace solution when it advised others to be creative.
Be that as it may, despite all his talk of the need for Israel to stop the illegal settlements and in spite of his utter dislike of Netanyahu, the man who reminds him every day of his impotence as the leader of the free world, President Obama is still not able, or willing, to do what’s right, what he knows to be right, or what’s in America’s best interest.
Why, you ask? Not even when he’s not running for office?!
Because Israel has a great influence over the US Congress and over its outgoing and the incoming House and Senate leaderships.
Or perhaps because Israel could take a number of retaliatory steps in Palestine or towards Iran that could further embarrass the Obama administration which wouldn’t be able to retaliate in any meaningful or direct way without compromising its standing with Congress or in Washington.
As Senator Lindsey Graham, the incoming chair of the Senate Foreign Appropriations Committee, told Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday, Congress would “follow his lead” on a bill to reinforce sanctions on Iran.
That’s hardly helpful to Obama who has made agreement with Iran a cornerstone of his second term foreign policy.
Indeed, the president is so focused on this agreement and its importance for his legacy that he seems willing to turn his back not only on Palestine, but on Syria as well.
In the final analysis, there seems to be a de facto division of influence between the US and Israel, whereby Israel has the last word in Palestine, while the Obama administration has the last word on Iran.
Any attempt at pressuring Israel in Palestine would be met with similar bullying from Israel.
Americans and Israelis are bound to find out, sooner than later, that some diplomatic fights are not worth fighting or winning.
After all, how could another resolution change anything, when over the past 47 years, Israel has violated with impunity all relevant UNSC council resolutions?
When it rejects, for example, resolution 465 of 1980 – that strongly deplored of all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure of status of the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.
I suspect Obama knows all too well that the French-proposed, mild, vague and elastic resolution that calls for an eventual end to the five-decade Israeli occupation is probably better for Israel and the “Peace Process” than no resolution at all.
But then on second thoughts, the only UNSC resolution that was accepted by the US and Israel as the basis of the diplomatic process, ie 242 of 1967, has also been systematically violated.
Israel has been expanding its settlement activity when the resolution notes the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force”.
As we’ve seen time and again, the voice of the so-called “international community” has been neither “international” nor behaved as a “community” when it comes to Israel and Palestine.
And here they go again. Those in Washington and London who pretend to speak for the “international community,” are those who obstructed the adoption of a resolution that does no more than call for an end to the occupation of a member state, Palestine.