Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Settlement yargh!

Aside from the general idea that the I-P conflict makes people crazy, I don't get why we have had a multi-day temper-tantrum over the U.S.'s decision not to veto the security council resolution which condemned the growth of settlements in the West Bank. The resolution doesn't say anything that hasn't been the official U.S. position on settlements in the occupied territories for decades. The resolution also doesn't have any enforcement mechanism. It doesn't call for the use of force or refer anyone to the International Criminal Court. It simply is a statement about Israeli's settlement practices, one that happens to articulate a view of those settlements that has long been widely shared across the world. Also, the vote was 14 to 0 with one abstention. The U.S. is the only country that did not vote for it! Why is it getting so much ire? Four other countries could have vetoed the resolution. Another ten could have voted against it but voted for it instead.

While it is true that in the past the U.S. made a habit of vetoing "anti-Israeli" security council resolutions, even when those resolutions reflected official U.S. policy. But you can't read the decision to abstain to this particular vote as a signaled change in U.S. policy to a more critical stance towards Israel. Everyone knows that is not what the Trump administration will do. This vote is not a harbinger of anything. It's just a signal that President Obama is done doing dumb things to signal blind support of Israel. But Obama as president is pretty much done, It doesn't mean anything for the long term.

So why has the freakout continue for this long, even over a holiday weekend? Is Netanyahu driving this just because it is his last chance to take some shots at Obama? The settlements are a real issue. But the screams that followed just seems increasingly petty and stupid.