Now that the smoke has cleared at the United Nations, there is little question about President Obama’s intentions; they are now crystal clear. Incontrovertible evidence exists that suggests the proposal for a return to the 1967 borders in Israel was orchestrated by the White House. By any measure that is a break from the historic ties between the U.S. and Israel and, as many commentators have noted, an act of betrayal.
It is also an act that cannot be trivialized. Of course, Israel will ignore the proposition. Netanyahu hasn’t any alternative. President Trump will regard it as an openly hostile act and may repudiate it by naming Jerusalem the capital of Israel. But what must also be realized is that even a coat of paint in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank is technically illegal and a violation of international law according to the Hague Court of International Justice. While the court doesn’t have the ability to impose its will, as was demonstrated by China’s President Xi repudiating a decision on the Spratly islands, it can bog down the Israeli government in legal harassment.
Most significantly, this proposal could be a casus belli. Suppose Palestinian activists decide to take matters into their own hands by arguing they have a legitimate claim to Samaria and Judea thereby employing force to obtain the territory they have acquired through legal decree. What Obama may not have thought through is how disruptive his proposal might be. Moreover, since the Sunni nations have put the Palestinian question behind them, it is odd that President Obama should insert it into the international equation as a front burner issue. Now terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Iranian Quds can claim a legitimate right to attack an Israeli government theoretically violating the law.
Even the insertion of a note into the Western Wall, a practice that has gone on as a Jewish religious ritual since 1967, can be declared an act violating the U.N. proposal. That Obama chose this matter as his swan song is revealing. His hostility towards Israel has been manifest in many ways, but at no point in the past has an American president acted as Obama has. This White House abstention and behind the scenes maneuvering with sponsoring states is unprecedented. The lies leading to the decision and rationalizations in the aftermath are also unprecedented.
In fact, this decision puts a slow burn on Donald Trump. Despite the number of global issues he will be obliged to digest setting foot in the White House from Syria to NATO, from the South China Sea air perimeter to North Korea, he will now be saddled with a Palestinian state issue most officials thought was on hold for the foreseeable future.
Obama has virtually destroyed any legacy he hoped to transmit to future historians about his eight years in office. He has left in ruins all he tried to manage.
The world is in disarray in large part because of his mismanagement or ignoring any management.
His ego won’t allow a dispassionate assessment of the Obama presidency, but if one were to do so after this recent U.N. fiasco, Barack Obama would have to be considered among the worst presidents in American history.