President Obama’s rhetorical assault on Benjamin Netanyahu last week … set the stage for what could be another crockery-breaking bid by Obama for a foreign policy legacy, on a par with his opening to Cuba and would-be nuclear deal with Iran.
By declaring Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations dead and blaming Netanyahu, Obama laid the predicate for a decision to go forward with a U.S.-backed U.N. Security Council resolution that would set the terms for a final peace settlement. Envisioned as an updating of U.N. Resolution 242, which has been part of the framework for the Mideast “peace process” since the 1960s, the idea would be to mandate the solution to the questions Israelis and Palestinians have been unable to agree upon for decades, such as the future status of Jerusalem. …
Whether or not it accelerated Palestinian statehood (and most likely it wouldn’t), Obama’s initiative would set off an earthquake in U.S. foreign relations and for Israel’s standing in the world. For nearly half a century, the United States has taken the position that the terms for a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians must come about as the result of negotiations and not as an imposition by outside parties. At the United Nations, it has been a given that Washington will veto resolutions that aim to compel Israel to accept terms.
Now Obama is contemplating going forward with a resolution that was drafted last year by Secretary of State John Kerry and his Mideast negotiations team at the State Department. The language was drawn up in response to efforts by the Palestinians and France to win support for Security Council resolutions following the collapse of Kerry’s attempt to get Israeli and Palestinian assent to a “framework agreement.” France announced on Friday that it would renew its initiative, giving Obama a fresh prompt.