With less than a month to go until he leaves office, President Barack Obama is trying to do his utmost to leave Israel in as vulnerable and indefensible a position as possible since the outbreak of the 1967 Six-Day War.
The outgoing administration’s decision not to veto the U.N. Security Council resolution on the settlements attested to this, and went against long-standing American policy that the conflict must be resolved directly between the two parties.
Back in 1995, the Palestinians had agreed to the issue of Israeli settlements being addressed in direct negotiations between the two parties.
However, throughout the years of the Obama administration, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet directly with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for negotiations. Abbas has continuously hardened his position, expecting the United States to put the squeeze on Israel.
In an article published on May 29, 2009, Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl wrote, “Mahmoud Abbas says there is nothing for him to do.”
Abbas rightly sensed early on that there would be tremendous “daylight” between the 44th president of the United States and Israel, and all he had to do was to wait for Obama to put the onus on Israel to accept Abbas’ terms.
“President Obama has revived a long-dormant Arab fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees,” Diehl wrote.
Totally forgotten during the Obama administration was that the Oslo Accords, the Hebron Agreement, the Wye Agreement and others were supposed to have been based on a series of interim steps in which trust was supposed to have been built up between the two parties. After all, the two sides were the ones who, at the end of the day, would have to live together.
Forgotten were any of the conditions placed upon the Palestinians. Any agreement was supposed to have been premised on land for peace, not land for incitement and terror. Israeli withdrawals and Palestinian statehood were supposed to have been earned by the Palestinians through the growth of mutual trust and good will that was to have been built up incrementally.
However, rather than working to build up trust with Israel since the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority has never missed an opportunity to demonize Israel in the international community, and to embark on a constant and continuous campaign of maligning Israel in the Palestinian population with a vicious smear campaign of hatred and incitement to terror.
The result is more than 1,000 Israeli fatalities, and a flourishing BDS campaign internationally.
Abbas was right. Obama never budged from his single-minded focus that the onus was to be only on Israel and only about settlements.
What further hardened Obama’s heart was that he has never forgiven Netanyahu for defying him by coming to the joint session of Congress in an attempt to convince its members to vote against the Iranian nuclear deal. It is every leader’s primary responsibility to protect the lives of his country’s citizens, and Netanyahu takes that responsibility very seriously. The Iranian deal poses an existential threat to Israel, as well as to America’s survival. Israel, however, is first in Iran’s crosshairs.
By now, most people understand that Netanyahu was correct. This deal has not deterred Iran one iota from becoming a nuclear power, but merely paves a legal path for that to happen within 14 years — if Iran doesn’t cheat. Just for coming to the table, Iran has been given $150 billion in unlocked frozen assets, plus $1.7 billion in ransom payments. Iran, which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “the world’s leading supporter of international terrorism,” is now vastly enriched. It has been impossible for the International Atomic Energy Agency to get into many of the sites for inspection, because Iran has suddenly called them “military sites,” which, according to the JCPOA, are off-limits to the inspectors.
Since the deal was signed, Iran has become increasingly more aggressive and emboldened, threatening and even seizing U.S. naval ships in the Persian Gulf. Iran has stepped into the power vacuum that Obama left wide open with his withdrawal from the Middle East, and its footprint, or that of its proxies, can be seen in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Thanks in great part to Obama’s appeasement policies, we now see a rising Shiite force in the Middle East. Christians, Yazidis and even Sunni Arabs are being replaced by a rising Shiite crescent that extends from Tehran to the Golan Heights. We are seeing wholesale massacres of these people and populations fleeing, creating the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
The Fourth Geneva Convention, adopted in 1949 to prevent the expulsion and forced transfer of populations, is often held up against Israel.
But as Dore Gold of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs writes, “This is not what is occurring with settlement activity. … There is one place, however, where the scenario is taking place right now, and it is not in the West Bank. It is occurring in Syria, where Sunni Arabs are being systematically replaced by Shiites from Iraq and other countries in order to alter the demographic make-up of the Syrian state, in accordance with the interests of Iran. Tehran wants a Shiite belt from its western border to the Mediterranean in order to establish its hegemony in the Middle East.
“And what is the U.N. doing about this? It is deliberating over a new draft resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, while ignoring the mass transfer of populations transpiring across the entire Levant. As usual, it is obsessed with Israel, while ignoring the dangerous action of Iran.”
If Israel was forced to abandon the territory it was compelled to capture in its defensive war of 1967, the Jewish state would be reduced to just 9 miles wide at its narrowest point, making it extremely vulnerable to attack. Since 1967, Israel has had a topographical defense to the east, from the mountain ridge that rises 900 meters above sea level in the north running down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea 400 meters below sea level in the south. This physical barrier makes a natural protective shield for the coastal plain, where the bulk of Israel’s population lives.
There is a huge humanitarian crisis going on today, with at least 500,000 Syrians slaughtered and 5 million displaced, creating a refugee crisis that is spilling over into Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and throughout Europe. But rather than address this horrific crisis emanating directly from Tehran, as well as so many other humanitarian crises around the globe, the Security Council has passed yet another resolution condemning Israel and singling it out as a pariah among nations.
Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, EMET, a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.
This article was originally published here: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=17977