Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
Why did Netanyahu rush all the way to Rome for a conversation with Kerry?
Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
Photo: Michael Kramer
Alon Pinkas
Photo: Michael Kramer

Automatic American veto era is coming to an end

Op-ed: Even if the US vetoes the Palestinians' UN bid, it will be a bitter veto which should set off a particularly loud alarm bell in Jerusalem.

Israel's residents can't remember a situation in which the United States did not veto an anti-Israel proposal at the United Nations Security Council. They can't remember because it never happened.



So the diplomatic drama which began in Rome on Monday almost went unnoticed in the media and the public due to the violent hostage siege in Australia and the shock in the world over Eli Yishai's departure from Shas.


Why did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rush all the way to Rome for a conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry? There are two explanations: Political and diplomatic.


The political explanation, in the context of the beginning of an election campaign in Israel, is simple: Netanyahu wants to create a diplomatic-security agenda. "The word is against us," "the hypocritical UN" and "we are under a diplomatic siege" are Netanyahu's political and intellectual convenience range, as he completely denies his part in creating this poisonous atmosphere.


A Jordanian-Palestinian proposal, along with a parallel French proposal to set a deadline and outline a framework for negotiations and an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, alongside decisions made by several parliaments in Europe to recognize the existence of a Palestinian state, are helping Netanyahu put the convenient diplomatic issue back in the center of the election campaign.


The Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, the world doesn’t understand, the world is pressuring us, only a strong and experienced leader can endure this battle, and you are telling us that the cost of living and the housing and pudding prices are the issue? Get serious. We are in an existential war.


The diplomatic explanation is much more dramatic, and Netanyahu knows it. For the very first time, the US is publicly mulling a veto at the Security Council. Netanyahu is framing it as another anti-Israel resolution which he expects the US to veto. But in Washington, as well as in the rest of the world, a call for two-year negotiations which will end with the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital is no longer perceived as necessarily "anti-Israel."


Even the argument that such a decision is one-sided, forced and is anyway unfeasible is not being taken seriously in a world which doesn’t believe what Netanyahu says and has definitely not seen any initiative or desire on his part.


Moreover, the French proposal reflects the American principles and could serve as a convenient alternative for the option which was raised after the failure of Kerry's mediations, that the US would put its own plan on the table or a framework which would combine its principles for an agreement.


Since the State of Israel's establishment, the US has vetoed anti-Israel proposals at the UN Security Council 51 times. In history there is no "what if" and "let's assume that…", but it's reasonable to assume that had it not been for the US and the diplomatic umbrella it opened over Israel's head, Israel would have faced condemnation proposals and maybe even sanctions in the past few years.


That, and not just the financial military aid, is the essence of the strategic asset and special support Israel receives from the US.


With the absence of a softened proposal "without numbers" – in other words, without setting 2016 as a target and without the 1967 borders – the US may veto the decision, but it will be a bitter veto with gnashed teeth, which means getting caught in an isolation which part of the US administration believes Israel is dragging it into.


Even if a veto is imposed, a particularly loud alarm bell should go off in Jerusalem: This is the gradual beginning of the end of the automatic American veto era.


Alon Pinkas served as Israel's consul-general in New York.


פרסום ראשון: 12.17.14, 00:29
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