From The Other Side
Of The Bench
By David J. Seidemann, Esq.
The Palestinian Arabs and their leader are upset with the president of the United States. They have a right to be, but their anger is directed at the wrong president. Their anger should be directed at former president Obama and not Mr. Trump. The former president, at least for the moment, has singlehandedly done more to quash the Arab dream of yet another Arab state within biblical Israel than any other American.
In October 2016, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a resolution effectively stripping Jerusalem–and specifically the Kotel and its surrounding area–of any connection to the Jewish people.
Two months later, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 2334 which, among other things, labeled Israel an occupying power in Jerusalem and the West Bank and further stated that any development in those areas is a flagrant violation of international law. The resolution did not acknowledge that those areas might be disputed territory. Instead it prejudged the outcome of any future agreement and proclaimed those areas to be Jew-free.
Then President Obama instructed the U.S. ambassador to the UN to abstain, allowing for the resolution to pass. Of note is that a similar resolution was vetoed in 2011 by the United States. The December 2016 goodbye present from Obama was a parting shot at Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the president out on the Iran deal, a travesty that we are learning more about every day.
Obama sent a message to the world that the Arab position of denying Jews and Jerusalem was legitimate. Fueled by such momentum, in July 2017, UNESCO passed another resolution declaring Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs a Muslim holy site. There was no mention of any Jewish connection to the site.
Those three resolutions, passed when Obama was in office, are what rewrote history. To claim that Trump has rewritten history is a rewriting in and of itself. President Trump merely corrected the falsehood that was allowed to spread worldwide during the Obama administration.
President Trump’s December 6, 2017 declaration and the veto of the December 18, 2017 security-council resolution was the natural reaction, the market correction, to Obama’s blunders in 2016. Those missteps empowered UNESCO and the security council and the general assembly to act in furtherance of the big lie.
Obama forced Trump’s hand and now, in a brilliant move, Trump has forced Abbas’s hand.
A number of realities emerge from the latest high-stakes match. Firstly, Trump has moved the goal posts in terms of what is negotiable and what is not. The Palestinian leadership, though they deny it, is in panic mode. Is Jerusalem off the table? What is next? Trump declaring all of Israel, even post-1967 territory, a Jewish state, something Abadi still has not done?
What then is left to negotiate?
The hypocrisy of the UN is glaring. The UN, a world body, can pass multiple resolutions defining what they believe are the respective rights to Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Hebron, but if the United States makes a sovereign decision as to where they place their embassy that is prejudging the outcome?
Secondly, without a brutal intifada–which was predicted but thankfully never took place–Abbas seems powerless to respond to Trump’s move. The Arab on the street has not signed up for the promised intifada, and the other Arab states do not seem willing, other than through bellicose rhetoric, to punish either Israel or the United States.
Thirdly, and most importantly, Trump’s move has forced Abbas to save face and “reject” all future participation by the United States in peace negotiations. The problem with that is that only the United States has any power of influence over Israel in terms of pressuring Israel to make any meaningful concessions with Abbas.
Does Abbas really think Israel will respond to a plan put forward by Germany, France, Great Britain, Turkey, or the European Union? Any such plan would be more biased than what Abbas claims a U.S. plan would be. Trump’s move was based on history. A peace plan emerging from any of the aforementioned countries would be as tainted as the multitude of resolutions cascading from the halls of the UN.
Those other nations that Abbas wants to move to the forefront have their own radical Muslim issues on their streets and would probably shy away from offering any plan whose details grant Israel anything. The fear of upsetting their new citizens is just too great. Any such plan would be one of appeasement to their population and would be summarily rejected by Israel.
Abbas has sent Trump to the corner, but now there is no one left to talk to. I believe that is precisely what the plan was all along.
For those on the left who pray for Bibi’s downfall, be careful. He is a master at this chess game and I don’t see anyone who can play it as well. I fear the day when a successor who is less committed to Eretz Yisrael HaShleimah is in charge. I fear the day when a novice is asked to play a game against chess masters.
The world nations, despite their anti-Israel, anti-Semitic rhetoric, might finally be realizing that Abbas is running out of time. He did not sit down to play chess before the embassy-move decision was made. He has not sat down after. In the meantime, the pieces are being moved without him.
It’s a bit ironic that Trump gets credit for moving the pieces on a board set up by Obama. Obama’s decision to tie Trump’s hands has in reality tied Abbas’s hands. Good work, Mr. Obama. Checkmate.
David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann and Mermelstein and serves as a professor of business law at Touro College. He can be reached at 718-692-1013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.