The U.S. Must Wean Itself From Its Imbecilic Automatic Veto Policy

The American veto of anti-occupation resolutions in the UN Security Council has been essentially a veto of justice, and it has corrupted Israel by enabling it to run riot.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the UN General Assembly, September 24, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the UN General Assembly, September 24, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Every Israeli patriot must now hope the United States will wean itself from its imbecilic automatic veto policy, and instead support the French resolution to the UN Security Council to bring about an end to the occupation within two years. Anyone who fears for this country’s future must hope the world will demonstrate real involvement and rescue it from its dead end.

If the Russian occupation of Crimea resulted in immediate, stiff international sanctions, the time has come for intervention to secure an end to the Israeli occupation, now three generations old and no less brutal. In the 21st century, this is how the world must act. But without America, it won’t do so.

There are Israelis who dream of this – who long for an imposed solution, whose heart’s desire is the exertion of international pressure on Israel, who believe that no change will arise from within Israeli society, which is apathetic and closed-minded, any time in the near future. Most Israelis view them as traitors. In their eyes, it’s an “anti-democratic” act to involve the world in opposition to the views of the Israeli majority and its elected government.

This is one of the most false and hypocritical claims that has ever been made here. Continuing the occupation is democratic; working against it is anti-democratic. It’s hilarious. Deciding the fate of millions of Palestinians without asking them is democratic. Hoping the United States withholds its veto so that it will be possible to end this situation is anti-democratic, here in the MIddle East’s only democracy.

This week, U.S. President Barack Obama will have perhaps his last chance to repair the world, but it looks as if he’s going to blow it. He could turn the United States from Israel’s patron into what it was supposed to be: a superpower that works to uphold international law. This is an opportunity to realize the promise he embodied, to change the rules of the game in the Middle East, to show commitment to Israel’s future, to advance international and American interests and to work to establish justice. But the U.S. president is liable to be revealed as the greatest weaver of illusions in our time, as a rousing showman of hope who let everyone down.

If the United States once again vetoes these Security Council resolutions, or forces the Palestinians and the French to alter them or postpone them indefinitely, then we’ll know: The White House is occupied by one of the biggest frauds in its history, and one of the worst presidents ever for the Middle East.

Yet another veto? Once again? How can America not be ashamed of the dozens of vetoes it has cast? How can Obama not be ashamed? What does he say to himself when he looks in the mirror? That it’s “premature,” as Israel tries to claim? That this is a “unilateral” move, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to bill it? After 47 years of occupation and a third generation of Palestinians with no rights and no chance, this is “premature?" In the face of a unilateral and irreversible Israeli policy of settlements and other violent measures, the Security Council resolution is “unilateral?" In the absence of any Israeli plan, to veto an international plan?

It’s not hard to imagine the benefits that would accrue should the United States support the French initiative. The Palestinians would see a nonviolent path to independence before them, Europe would be released from the bizarre paralysis America has imposed on it, and Israel, too, would benefit: It would be freed from the stupefying, intoxicating umbrella that enabled it to arrogantly ignore the world’s position, to thumb its nose at it and run riot. This helped neither its international standing nor its image.

Like domestic violence or a gang rape in which nobody calls the authorities, the American veto has enabled Israel to continue abusing the Palestinians without taking any responsibility or being punished for it. The American veto has been essentially a veto of justice, and it corrupted Israel.

Withholding it could thus actually contribute to Israel’s recovery, by forcing it to contend with the consequences of its policy. Therefore, this is what any true friend of Israel and any true Israeli patriot must now hope for: an end to the vetoes.

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