I recently expressed the hope that the US would support the upcoming UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement on the West Bank. Now this just in from US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg:
We have made very clear that we do not think the Security Council is the right place to engage on these issues…We have had some success, at least for the moment, in not having that arise there. And we will continue to employ the tools that we have to make sure that continues to not happen.
Sad, but all too predictable. Let’s let MJ Rosenberg explain the wrong-headedness of it all:
Opposition to Israeli settlements is perhaps the only issue on which the entire Arab and Muslim world is united. Iraqis and Afghanis, Syrians and Egyptians, Indonesians and Pakistanis don’t agree on much, but they do agree on that. They also agree that the U.S. policy on settlements demonstrates flagrant disregard for human rights in the Muslim world (at least when Israel is the human rights violator).
Accordingly, a U.S. decision to support the condemnation of settlements would send a clear message to the Arab and Muslim world that we understand what is happening in the Middle East and that we share at least some of its peoples’ concerns.
And on the point that the UN is “not the right place to engage on these issues?”
Very impressive. The United States has had no success whatsoever in getting the Netanyahu government to stop expanding settlements — to stop evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem to make way for ultra-Orthodox settlers — and no success in getting Israel to crack down on settler violence, but we have had “some success” in keeping the issue out of the United Nations.
Queasy about using the UN to try and stop the Israeli settlement juggernaut? It’s time to get over it. A long list of former US officials, prominent policy writers academics and religious figures have already written a letter to Obama urging him not to block the resolution. J Street has also stated it “cannot support a U.S. veto of a Resolution that closely tracks long-standing American policy and that appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy.”
To join these voices of sanity, please click here.
UPDATE (2/17/11): The US is now trying to avoid a showdown by putting forward its tepid own resolution. The Palestinians have rejected the American offer and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution on Friday.
It’s looking more and more like the Obama adminstration will soon cast its first ever veto in the UN Security Council.