SPECIAL REPORT

Future of Israel relations after US abstains from UN vote

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," December 23, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Our vote today does not in any way diminish the United States' steadfast and unparalleled commitment to the security of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. We would not have let this resolution pass had it not also addressed counterproductive actions by the Palestinians.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHANNON BREAM, GUEST ANCHOR: That is our ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, today after the abstention from the vote. Let's bring in our panel: Jonah Goldberg, senior editor of National Review; Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist; Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. And to anyone who thought it was going to be a quiet holiday week of news, it's definitely not been the case.

Jonah, what do you make of this? Because what Ambassador Power said is this doesn't diminish the U.S. steadfast and unparalleled commitment to the security of Israel. That's not how Israel is interpreting this.

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: That's not how basically any observer is interpreting this. This is like me punching you in the face and saying I'm not pushing you in the face. Of course this diminishes America's steadfast support for Israel.

What I think is the most remarkable thing about this is this is to no productive end. We spent eight years listen to a lot of supporters of Israel, a lot of liberal Jewish supporters of Israel, insist that Barack Obama is unparalleled in his support for Israel. And he is going out the door flipping a middle finger to Israel for no apparent purpose. If you listen to Ben Rhodes, you will listen in vain for an answer to why they're doing this.

And I think what this does is reveal that all along the rhetoric and posturing towards Israel concealed where their emotional heart is, which is they have always thought this was about the settlements. And this is a way -- and they held off doing this earlier because they knew it would hurt Hillary Clinton. Now that Hillary is gone, they're doing it simply out of spite and out of a sense of emotional commitment to screwing Israel.

BREAM: To be clear, we are one of the few who had veto power over this so it never went anywhere at all, and the U.S. affirmatively chose not to do that. We do have a little bit of audio from the phone call with Ben Rhodes this afternoon explaining what had happened and why. Here is a bit of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The Israeli government wants the conversation to be about anything other than the settlement activity. We've been warning President Obama and Secretary Kerry publicly and privately for years that the trend line of settlement construction and settlement activity was just increasing Israel's international isolation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM: And Mollie, a lot of people would argue this resolution also isolates Israel, moves to that end.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: Yes. And this if anything gives false hope to Palestinians. This doesn't actually change our policy. It won't change. In a few weeks we'll have returned to what our position of strong support of Israel has been for 40 years. But it will give false hope to Palestinians. They will think that this gives them claims to something. It could lead to more violence. And showing this kind of moral cowardice and abstaining on this vote not supporting this democracy is a perfect coda to eight years of foreign policy bungling and impotence.

BREAM: We got the tweet of course today, there is a tweet from Donald Trump saying as to the U.N., things will be different after January 20th. It's something that Israeli leaders are embracing and celebrating and noting in all the reactions to the vote today.

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. Just to pick up on a couple of the points, this does change something real. It changes international law. Security Council resolutions are international law. And that's a tremendous weapon now in diplomacy that the Palestinians can wield.

BREAM: But apparently, my understanding, unless I'm getting this wrong, there are no sanctions imposed on Israel.

LANE: No. But the declaration of what's legal and illegal in the name of the Security Council is extremely important for propaganda purposes, for legitimatizing people who might try to make private sanctions like the boycott.

GOLDBERG: The International Criminal Court can claim to this too.

LANE: But just to pick up on the point about what I think is fascinating in terms of the domestic politics of this, just as you said, the Israelis are now kind of openly placing their hopes in a Republican president coming in and crying betrayal at a Democratic president. We have come a long way in this country from the time when support for Israel was a bipartisan, almost unquestioned bipartisan thing. And now you are seeing not just a split between the parties but you will soon see a split within the Democratic Party that will be provoked by this step, because President Obama has thrown -- and John Kerry have thrown their weight behind the voices that have been insisting for a long time within the Democratic Party for a tougher, quote-unquote, "policy on Israel" that will put a lot of pressure on the pro-Israel forces within the Democratic Party, some of whom have been heard from, such as Chuck Schumer, Ron Wyden, Sherrod Brown in the Senate today.

BREAM: And we just got something in from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, formerly of the DNC, heading up the DNC. She said "I condemn in the strongest of terms the United Nation's Security Council passage of" what she calls "this one-sided anti-Israel resolution as well as the United States reckless abstention." So bipartisan condemnation, Charles.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: What happened today is that the United States joined the jackals at the U.N. That was a phrase used by Pat Moynihan, the great Democratic senator, the former U.S. ambassador, who spoke for the United States standing up in the U.N. and to resist this kind of disgrace.

To give you an idea of how appalling this resolution is, it declares that any Jew who lives in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, the Jewish quarter, inhabited for 1,000 years, is illegal, breaking international law, essentially an outlaw, can be hauled into the International Criminal Court or the national courts in Europe, which is one of the consequences. The Jewish quarter has been populated by Jews for 1,000 years. In the war of independence from 1948, the Arabs invaded Israel to wipe it out. They did not succeed, but the Arab legion succeeded in concurring the Jewish quarter. They expelled all the Jews. They destroyed all the synagogues and all the homes. And for 19 years, no Jew could go there. The Israelis got it back in the Six Day War. And now it's declared this is not Jewish territory. Remember, it's called the Jewish quarter, but it belongs to other people, and any Jew who lives there is an outlaw. That's exactly what we supported. The resolution is explicit in saying settlements in the occupied territories and in east Jerusalem.

BREAM: It does. My question is, why now? The Obama administration is about to leave.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes. He didn't --

BREAM: But there's been this very tenuous public cooperation between Obama and Netanyahu, although we always hear behind the scenes they don't like each other personally, but there are issues they disagree on. But publically they stayed united. So why now with three-and-a-half weeks to go do you blow that up?

KRAUTHAMMER: In 2012, running for reelection Obama spoke at the meeting of AIPAC, the big Jewish lobby. And he said, is there any doubt that I have Israel's back? That's why he didn't want do it while he was in office. That's why he didn't want to do it in 2016 so it would injure Hillary and show to particularly American Jews who tend to be Democratic that it was a farce. He does it on the way out. And that's part of why it's so disgraceful. He didn't even -- he hid it until there would be no consequence. And now he is out the door and the damage is done for years. That resolution cannot be undone.

BREAM: Let me bring up a real quick point. Jonah I want to get to you. I talked with Senator Graham today who chairs the subcommittee that controls U.N. funding. He was talking very tough about he is going to do everything he can to block the funding unless this is rolled back or use it as some kind of leverage.

GOLDBERG: I think that points to an important dynamic. This is going to set off a war between Congress and the United Nations that's going to have ramifications for a long time to come. But there's a bizarre irony to this in that everyone tells us that Bibi Netanyahu and Barack Obama don't like each other. This is a gift to Bibi Netanyahu. It's terrible for Israel, but what this does is it allows Bibi Netanyahu to say persuasively even to his domestic critics, look, I have been telling you for eight years, I haven't ruined the relationship with America. It's all because of Obama. And now Obama shows his true colors and Bibi can say, look, I was right.

BREAM: And he will have backing now from Senator Graham and others. What do we make of this accusation by Senator Tom Cotton and others who have said to me and probably some of you too that this was specifically orchestrated by President Obama and John Kerry?

LANE: The Israelis have been saying that for some time. They say this is done behind their back, et cetera, et cetera.

BREAM: But our own lawmakers are saying the White House are doing that.

LANE: I'm not sure Tom Cotton is privy to all these conversations. I'm sure he's been briefed by sources in Israel that have been telling that to everyone. I must say I'm struck bit disconnect here. Look what's going on in the Middle East. Half a million people have been slaughtered in Syria. You have war all over Yemen. Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. And the issue that the U.N. Security Council is focused on here a couple days before Christmas and Hanukkah is this.

KRAUTHAMMER: Jews living in the Jewish quarter. It tells you how perverse the U.N. is and why it's time to cut the cord and stop giving them any money.

BREAM: We will see if Senator Graham that's what's going to happen.

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