By Press TV
By Mohyeddin Sajedi
With the Middle East at a very sensitive juncture, US President Barack Obama made a very big mistake that was expected by many.
He officially gave the nod to Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice vetoed a resolution outlawing the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. All 130 UN members had given the thumbs up to the resolution.
Even US allies at the Security Council — France and Britain — refused to abstain and voted “yes.”
Before the voting, Obama spoke to acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas for 50 minutes, but failed to persuade him into taking back the resolution and, instead, accepting a non-binding UN Security Council statement which would declare the Israeli settlement activities illegal.
After Obama failed to persuade Abbas, he threatened to cut financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. Obama and his advisors have not yet understood that Hosni Mubarak is no longer ruling Egypt, and this “strategic treasure” of Israel is not in power any more to be able to pressure Abbas into giving in to the White House.
The vetoing of the resolution has not shaken the Palestinian side’s will, and the Palestinian Authority will take the matter to the UN General Assembly where the US cannot veto the resolution.
Although the Israeli regime has welcomed Obama’s move, it is feeling a strong sense of isolation. Only the United States backs Israel, and the European Union, together with a host of key UN member states, regard as illegal Tel Aviv’s actions to change the fabric of the occupied territories, in terms of geography and population. This does not bode well for Israel.
The Israeli daily Ha’aretz has described Obama as a new member of the center-right Likud party.
The Palestinian Authority’s insistence on presenting the anti-Israeli resolution to the UN Security Council shows, in the first place, Washington’s weakness in dealing with the new situation in the Middle East at a time when the Obama administration is seeking to align itself with Middle East nations. Mahmoud Abbas has also said that the US is not committed to its stances, and puts Israel’s interests before those of all others.
Before the vote, an Arab commentator said he wishes the US would go for Israel’s interests once again, and Ms. Rice would raise her hand again at the Security Council as a sign of veto, so that it will become known to all that the United States’ claims of supporting the people in the Middle East are just hollow promises.
Transitory is Washington’s cautious optimism over the fact that no US flag has been set on fire in protests from Kuwait to Morocco; that American tools like Facebook and Twitter are used during the protests. Tel Aviv’s confidence that the head of the Egyptian military council has reassured Ehud Barak that Camp David agreement will remain valid, and that the US will continue to support Israel at the UN Security Council, will be ephemeral as well.
If Abbas had given in to Obama’s demand and taken back the resolution, the Palestinian Authority chief would have turned into another Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and had to find some place for himself in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
In the early days of his presidential term, Obama conditioned the resumption of direct talks to Israel’s halting settlement activities. Now, major developments have been unfolding in the region, and no one bothers to remember Washington’s failure during the process of the negotiations and its desperate request from Netanyahu to freeze settlement activities for three months.
Obama’s big mistake to use the veto power for the first time since entering the White House will gradually make him a major target in demonstrations across the Middle East.
All current popular movements and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa are anti-monarchy. At this point in time and before achieving final victory, no one is trying to antagonize any country or make foreign powers worried. Islam is the main religion in the Middle East. After the emergence of Islam, though, over 14 centuries ago, there was a difference in the tone of the Quranic verses revealed to Prophet Mohammad when he was in Mecca, and later when he migrated to Medina.
Failing to understand this difference will confuse Western think tanks, keeping them from getting a proper understanding of the movements in Islamic countries. Bringing a military council to power in Egypt and keeping the former Egyptian and Tunisian governments in power gives the United States false assurances. More dramatic changes are on the way.
The vetoing of the anti-Israeli resolution which outlawed the construction of Jewish settlements does not indicate Washington’s power, but shows its weakness and isolation. Mahmoud Abbas has no choice but to turn to the axis of resistance. He had already announced that he would take to the UN a plan on international recognition of a Palestinian state. Will Obama veto that too?
Some in Israel are concerned that maybe this was the last time that the US used its veto power, and that the golden era is over.