During an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, discussed the United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements. When anchor Yanit Levi asked Rhodes if this was an “ambush,” he replied:
“…it’s not an ambush when President Obama and Secretary Kerry have been saying in hundreds of conversations and in public comments that Israeli settlement activity was pushing into the West Bank in a way that was making the two-state solution unachievable over time–and that if that activity continued, that we could see further international steps against Israeli settlement activity.
…it’s important to note here [that] we are not endorsing a resolution that seeks to impose a resolution to the conflict. On the contrary, this deals with settlement activity; it deals with incitement and violence by the Palestinian side; it deals with obstacles to peace–and when we see laws that aim to legalize outposts; when we see rhetoric that suggests that this is the most pro-settlement Israeli government in history; and when we see the facts on the ground, again, deep into the West Bank, beyond the separation barrier, we feel compelled to speak up against those actions.”
Cutting through the political fat, Rhodes is saying that Israel is the antagonist in this story, and the U.N. resolution was a reaction to the nation’s settlement projects. Someone with a decidedly different opinion is Harvard Law Professor Emeritus, Alan Dershowitz.
The Daily Wire spoke with Dershowitz, who offered two salient points–the first in regard to the resolution, and the way Rhodes has decided to frame it:
“If Ben Rhodes thinks it’s the job of the United States government to punish Israel for its ‘bad conduct,’ why did they extend the punishment beyond the West Bank expansion, which they’re complaining about? Why did they extend it to areas that they recognize–at least up to now have recognized as de facto belonging to Israel? The Western Wall, the access roads to Hebrew University, and Hadassah hospital. Was it stupidity or malevolence?
I’d love to challenge Ben Rhodes and ask him: ‘Does he believe that this resolution makes illegal Jewish prayer (which Obama participated in) at the Western Wall?’ Obama himself placed a note in the Western Wall. Is he saying that was an illegal act? If not, why did he allow the resolution to go through as drafted? The resolution as drafted makes that an illegal act”
Dershowitz made note of this in his recent op-ed for The Hill, in which he wrote that “the text of the resolution itself goes well beyond new building in these controversial areas and applies equally to historically Jewish areas that were unlawfully taken by Jordanian military action during Israel’s War of Independence and liberated by Israel in a war started by Jordan in 1967.”
He continued, stating “[the] text of the Security Council Resolution says that ‘any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem,’ have ‘no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.’ This means that Israel’s decision to build a plaza for prayer at the Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site – constitutes a ‘flagrant violation of international law.’ If it does, then why did President Obama pray there and leave a note asking for peace?”
According to Dershowitz, he was told “there was great division in the White House” over the resolution, and that it was allegedly Ben Rhodes who pushed hardest to “punish Israel.”
The second critical point made by Dershowitz was in regard to Israel’s now-diminished bargaining power:
“I do think that this is going to make it much harder for Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate because the resolution takes away Israel’s negotiating position. Israel’s negotiating position has always been ‘land for peace.’ Now they have no land to give up if the resolution is correct. [The resolution takes the land from them] without getting anything in return.”
The Harvard professor added that one cannot attempt to assign logic to something illogical, saying the resolution “was built on anger and revenge.”
As President Obama leaves office, he no longer needs to feign support for Israel. In 2011, he used his U.N. veto power to block a resolution remarkably similar to the one that just passed. However, now that’s he’s exiting the White House, he has nothing left to lose, and only adulation to gain from anti-Israel academics and journalists.