The United States' veto of a draft resolution condemning Israel's continued illegal settlement construction has exposed the Obama administration of kowtowing to Israeli pressure and thereby paying lip service to human rights in the Middle East. Bad timing big boy.

It would appear the Obama White House has learned little from the fight for human and democratic rights roiling the Middle East.

Slow to the party to be on the right side of history, Obama & Co. gradually played catch-up and supported the peaceful and reasonable calls from people denied the sorts of liberties we take for granted every single day.

And then came the question of the rights of the Palestinians.

Highly inconvenient for the US, those pesky Palestinians.

While fourteen of the fifteen member United Nations Security Council voted in favour of a draft resolution condemning as illegal all Israeli building of settlements in occupied Palestinian lands and calling for all settlement building to stop immediately, America alone spurned the Palestinians.

The Americans had warned – or threatened if you believe the rhetoric of the Palestinian Authority – that the PA should not call on the UNSC for such support because the only way to sort out the issue is through negotiated talks.

Appealing to the UNSC was considered “unhelpful” from an American point of view.

I am sure the demonstrators in Tahrir were considered by Mubarak to be unhelpful…as are those now protesting other oppressive kings and presidents in the region.

Actually even the Americans were supposed to have found the continued settlement building “unhelpful” to the peace process. The Palestinians sure did for the simple reason that Israelis were building on land that would be part of a future Palestinians state, thereby establishing “facts on the ground” which mean if peace was ever arrived at it would be impossible to return that land to Palestinians.

What is the Obama administration playing at?

Desperate to repair its image on the so-called Arab street it dropped its immoral – or perhaps more kindly amoral – stance when it came to domestic/foreign affairs concerns for stability trumping the rights of citizens of those strategic nations.

But all this seems to grind to an abrupt halt when it comes to the rights of Palestinians who are imprisoned, shot, tear gassed, evicted, harassed and disenfranchised every day by the occupying Israeli forces.

What the hell is the difference between rights for Palestinians and those of Egyptians, Libyans, Bahrainis, Algerians, Yemenis or Tunisians?

Well the difference is of course the power of the Jewish lobby in the US political system, which has time and time again proven to American politicians they don’t stand a chance of being elected without being a friend/enabler of Israel.

There are many Israelis and Jewish Americans who condemn this manipulation, but not enough – yet.

And so after making a really strong and undeniably committed start to dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict early in his term, Obama has effectively deferred to continuing the policy status quo of his predecessor George W. Bush.

Sure he has resisted Israeli pressure to launch an all out attack on Iran…but you’ve got to wonder for how long he will maintain that stance.

Now when faced with a choice of supporting the illegal actions of Israel over the legal rights of Palestinians, Obama has shown he can’t face Israeli anger.

An old fashioned term would be lily-livered.

The draft resolution of the PA was even written using the exact same language as the UShas used itself when desperate to prevent the rampant settlement building from completely derailing Obama’s peace initiative.

Israel’s Netanyahu scoffed at Obama then…and he’ll be laughing away now too.

Once again Israel – a wealthy country which for some bizarre reason sucks up the biggest single proportion of US overseas aid – has an American president in its pocket.

At least US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice had the good grace to look exasperated, or perhaps even embarrassed, when she alone raised her hand in dissent against the rest of the Security Council.

It must have been a blow for her that the first time she had to pull out the all-powerful veto card was to dismiss the human rights of Palestinians.

In so doing the US has isolated itself in the Middle East once again. This ridiculous siding with Israel – a state in breach of numerous UN Resolutions and appearing on the wrong side of international rights violations - exposes the United States as a co-bully.

It makes a mockery of its role in Middle East peace when it consistently sides with one side. It forces the Palestinians to appeal to the wider world for help in consolidating a future for its people.

It was not even a year ago that Obama announced to the United Nations that by September 2011, it could be welcoming the new sovereign, independent, contiguous state of Palestine and he was awarded with applause and standing ovations.

How cheap these words must all be for Palestinians thrown out of their homes to make way for Jewish-only condos. How cheap the US support for so-called democracy must now be seen in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The world thought Obama would have had the balls to deal with this situation, but alas he has proven the opposite.

It is the PA that has shown itself as tough and focused by refusing to cave in to US pressure to drop its draft resolution. Now it is to be hoped that the majority of countries around the world who have voiced support for an independent state of Palestine reward the PA with overwhelming support when Abbas goes back to the full UN seeking recognition for a state of Palestine according to the 1967 borders.

Comments (6)

by karen chance on February 20, 2011
karen chance


by Frances Thomas on February 20, 2011
Frances Thomas

Jane, congratulations on your strongly-worded article. But I'm not sure that US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice looked either exasperated or embarrassed when raising her hand in dissent.

Rice later expanded on the US veto in an Al Jazeera interview. Exasperated yes, but only at the interviewer. More US rhetoric, but no walking the talk.

In calling for further peace negotiations the US will again seek centre stage as the peace-broker. To assess their neutrality in that role, a comparison of the level of US military aid to the respective parties provides a real action-rather-than-talk indication.

Doesn't look promising for one of the parties, does it?

by Ross Forbes on February 20, 2011
Ross Forbes

How refreshing to read an opinion from a NZ journalist that  calls it how it actually is vis-a-vis the Israeli/palestinian issue.....rather than seeking the egregious "balance" on the question that is usually the default position of the mainstream liberal media....a default position that sealed the fate of 347 Palestinian kids in the massacre that was "cast lead"- a police operation that could have been halted in an instant had the U.S. threatened to stop pouring dollars down the throats of the Israeli generals responsible for this genocide. By the Israeli children died in this "war" as the media framed it. Even as I write the atrocities continue...poor Arab kids on the Gaza border are routinely shot by unmanned guns trained on them courtesy of Israeli military technical wizardry....somehow this robotic, programmed killing of kids never gets a headline on the six oclock news, yet to my mind such a cold calculated act is far more chilling than any action by some desperate Arab youth who straps explosives to his body.

No....we must have "balance"..and so the media remains silent in the face of overwhelming evidence of the slow-motion ethnic cleansing and theft of land and resources that is actually the unadorned truth of present-day Israel/Palestine  

by Luc Hansen on February 20, 2011
Luc Hansen

Great article Jane.

I heard Obama's strategy on settlements likened to that of the Duke of York: He marched his men to the top of the hill, then marched them down again.

But it's yet another tragedy for Palestinians, most probably in the name of the Holy Grail of a Second Term and the billion dollars Obama is reputed to be seeking to finance his campaign.

by Jane Young on February 21, 2011
Jane Young

tks typo...fixed now!

by Hesiod on April 18, 2011

the palestine problem would be solved in a heartbeat if all the inhabitants converted to judaism.

as it is the area is a running sore that needs to be lanced and is basically as fouled up as the jordan river.

provides lots of work for overpaid infantilised journalists though.

Post new comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.