Obama, Support Abbas' UN Resolution, No Matter What Netanyahu Says

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Mahmoud Abbas.
Mahmoud Abbas.Credit: Reuters

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas keeps coming up with moves that could advance the peace process. In his efforts to get the international community behind a major initiative, Abbas is expected to submit to the UN Security Council this month a draft resolution reflecting international consensus that could help to jump-start the stalled peace process.

The resolution calls for the immediate resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, with a one-year deadline to complete them and reach a final-status arrangement based on the principle of two states. It would define the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and an obstacle to peace and condemn continued Israeli construction in the occupied territories, as well as any action whose purpose is to change the demographic balance in the area.

The Palestinian resolution does not set out new conditions for the resumption of talks. It is supported by agreements and resolutions that the United Nations has already passed as well as remarks made by U.S. President Barack Obama over the years in favor of new talks and against continued building in the settlements. In February 2011, a similar proposal was approved by 14 out of 15 Security Council members but was vetoed by the United States.

In the five years that have passed since then, the U.S. administration has tirelessly endeavored to reactivate the negotiations. Obama himself came to Israel and Secretary of State John Kerry turned Israel into his temporary home, but both men ran into an impregnable wall. Last month Obama admitted that he did not believe an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would be reached before he leaves office in January. But that should not prevent him from preparing the ground for a future international effort to advance the two-state solution he believes in.

A veto of the latest resolution, which does not include a single clause that contradicts U.S. policy, would constitute a diplomatic and moral renunciation of the peace process. It would give Israel permission to continue its settlement policy and would heighten the Palestinians’ frustration and despair, which feed the terror attacks.

The Security Council members, especially the United States, must adopt the Palestinian resolution and ignore the denunciations of the prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu, who hasn’t made a single move toward peace and has sabotaged the peace process with his support for the settlements, is exacerbating the security threats faced by both Israelis and Palestinians. Israelis, like Palestinians, need a vision of a positive future. The Security Council must demonstrate daring that will breathe new life into the peace process.