Obama’s Last Card – Will He Play It?
By Alan Hart
President Obama ought to have trouble sleeping at night knowing that by allowing Israel to continue its illegal settlement activity on the occupied West Bank he has made himself, and his country, openly complicit in the Zionist state’s defiance of international law. In a different America that ought to be enough to have any president removed from office.
Do I have a picture in my mind of a different America? Yes. In a recent interview with Der Spiegel, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser, said that most Americans are “stunningly ignorant” about the world. By definition a different America would be one in which Americans were aware of the fact that almost everything they have been conditioned to believe about the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel is Zionist propaganda nonsense. (Properly informed Americans would understand, for example, why continued, unconditional White House and Congressional support for the criminal state of Israel is not in America’s own best interests and is, actually, provoking a real and growing threat to them).
My main point comes down to this. Now that he doesn’t have to honour any of the promises Secretary of State Clinton is said to have made to Prime Minister Netanyahu in a desperate (and predictably doomed) effort to persuade him to deliver a 90-day settlement freeze, Obama does have one last card that he could play.
For an Israel that is becoming a pariah state in the view of many people around the world, the promise that mattered most was that Obama would go on doing what all of his predecessors have done – veto any resolution in the Security Council that was not to Israel’s liking.
In the coming days, weeks and months it’s not impossible that the Security Council will be asked to vote on resolutions condemning Israel. One might call for recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 (pre-war) borders. This would be, effectively, a demand for Israel to end its occupation. Another might call for sanctions to be imposed on Israel if it goes on defying international law.
Until Obama’s decision not to confront Netanyahu over settlements, there was little or no prospect of a resolution aimed at calling Israel to account getting as far as the Security Council. But that prospect is now a real one because the European Union is openly exasperated by Obama’s lack of leadership on the matter. (Privately, some if not all EU leaders may well share Eric Margolis’s view that Obama has shown himself to be “utterly without spine” and “terrified” of the Zionist lobby).
In her public statement, Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, said this: “I note with regret that Israel has not been in a position to accept an extension of the moratorium as requested by the US, the EU and the Quartet. The EU position on settlements is clear – they are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.”
But that was a only the tip of an EU iceberg. For some months my sources have been telling me that almost without exception European governments, behind closed doors, are really “pissed off” with Israel, and were hoping that once the U.S. mid-term elections were out of the way, Obama would be ready to read it the riot act and apply some real pressure.
A hint of what lies below the tip of the EU iceberg was made public in a letter 26 members of the European Former Leaders Group (EFLG) wrote to Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, with copies to the governments of its 27 member states. It called for strong measures against Israel in response to its colonial policy and refusal to abide by international law.
One of the letter’s main proposals was that the EU should announce that it will not accept any unilateral changes to the 1967 border that Israel carried out against international law, and that the Palestinian state must cover an area the same size as the area occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem its capital. To leave as little room as possible for ambiguity, the letter also recommended that the EU should support only minor land swaps on which the two sides agreed.
The signatories were:
Chris Patten, UK,
(co-chair), former Vice-President of the European Commission; Hubert Védrine, France,
(co-chair), former foreign minister; Andreas van Agt, Netherlands, former prime minister; Frans Andriessen, Netherlands, former finance minister and former Vice-President of the European Commission; Guiliano Amato, Italy, former prime minister; Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Netherlands, former minister and vice-prime minister; Hans van den Broek , Netherlands, former foreign minister and EU Commissioner; Hervé De Charrette, France, former foreign minister; Roland Dumas, France, former foreign minister; Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austria, former European Commissioner; Felipe Gonzales, Spain, former prime minister; Teresa Patricio Gouveia, Portugal, former foreign minister; Lena Hjelm-Wallén, Sweden, former deputy prime minister; Lionel Jospin, France, former prime minister; Jean Francois-Poncet, France, former minister and senator; Romano Prodi, Italy, former President of the EU Commission and prime minister; Mary Robinson, Ireland, former President; Mona Sahlin, Sweden, chairman Swedish Social Democratic Party; Helmut Schmidt, Germany, former chancellor; Clare Short, UK, former minister; Javier Solana, Spain, former High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy; Thorvald Stoltenberg, Norway, former prime minister; Peter D. Sutherland, Ireland, former Director-General of the WTO; Erkki Tuomioja, Finland, former foreign minister; Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Latvia, former president; Richard von Weizsäcker. Germany, former President.
They noted that “The year 2011 will be of critical importance in determining the fate of the Middle East, perhaps for many years to come.” And one year on from their last report in December 2009 they said (my emphasis added):
“We appear to be no closer to a resolution of this conflict. To the contrary, developments on the ground, primarily Israel’s continuation of settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) including in East Jerusalem, pose an existential threat to the prospects of establishing a sovereign, contiguous and viable Palestinian state also embracing Gaza, and therefore pose a commensurate threat to a two-state solution to the conflict…
We consider it vital that the Council should identify concrete measures to operationalize its agreed policy and thence move to implementation of the agreed objectives. Europe cannot afford that the application of these policy principles be neglected and delayed yet again. Time to secure a sustainable peace is fast running out… It is eminently clear that without a rapid and dramatic move to halt the ongoing deterioration of the situation on the ground, a two-state solution, which forms the one and only available option for a peaceful resolution of this conflict, will be increasingly difficult to attain…
The EU has stated unequivocally for decades that the settlements in the OPT are illegal, but Israel continues to build them. Like any other state, Israel should be held accountable for its actions… It is the credibility of the EU that is at stake. The EU position could not be clearer, but – as we have argued above – failure to act accordingly, in the face of contraventions and disregard by Israel, undermines the EU and its credibility in upholding international law…
At stake are not only EU relations with the parties directly involved in the conflict but also with the wider Arab community, with which the EU enjoys positive diplomatic and trade relations.”
One possible translation of that is something like, “Europe can no longer allow its own best interests to be damaged by support for Israel right or wrong.”
It’s no secret that Israel’s deluded leaders and many of its brainwashed Jewish people don’t give a damn about what the EU really thinks because, they believe, only America matters. That has been the situation to date, but could it be about to change?
There’s a case for saying “Yes, perhaps”, but not in the way Israelis might imagine. In their letter the 26 said that “key U.S. figures” had suggested to them that “the best way to help President Barack Obama in his efforts to promote peace was to make policy that contradicts US positions” and which imposed consequences and costs on Israel.
One possible implication is that European leaders have been made aware that Obama needs and wants to be able to say behind his own closed doors something like: “If we don’t require Israel to act in accordance with international law, we’re heading for trouble with Europe and will become as isolated in the world as Israel is. We cannot let this happen.”
Which brings me back to Obama’s last card. The fact is that he does not have to instruct the US ambassador to the UN to vote against Israel in the Security Council. An American abstention would be enough to empower the nearest thing we have to world government to be serious about calling and holding the Zionist state to account for its crimes. And that could be, I repeat could be, a game changer.