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Since last night, the big foreign policy news is the United States will offer and support an anti-Israel resolution in the UN Security council which may (or may not) be voted on as early as tomorrow. While anytime the United States votes for an anti-Israel resolution it is disturbing, this is not the horrible act that many people are worried about and it is not a reversal of US policy.  In other words, put down the razor blades, its not time to panic–yet.

The original resolution which has been on the negotiating table for months says:

“Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

This resolution has been pushed by the Palestinians as a “first step” toward their real objective, they are looking toward a springtime resolution supporting a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State.  An Israeli rejection of the statement above can be used as ammunition, “see they won’t listen” to garner support for their upcoming effort.

Yesterday Colum Lynch of Foreign Policy reported:

The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.

But the Palestinian’s rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution Friday, according officials familiar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospects that the Obama administration may cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.

Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with its key ally and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to Israel to stop its construction of new settlements. The Palestinian delegation, along with the council’s Arab member Lebanon, has asked the council’s president this evening to schedule a meeting on Friday. But it remained unclear whether the Palestinian move today is simply a negotiating tactic aimed at extracting a better deal from the United States. . . .

In [the compromise] the Security Council “expresses its strong opposition to any unilateral actions by any party, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community, and reaffirms, that it does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process.” The statement also condemns “all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza, and stresses the need for calm and security for both peoples.”

The Palestinians will never support a resolution which “expresses its strong opposition to any unilateral actions by any party” because that takes away their unilateral declaration.

The US version changes the wording of the resolution from”Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967″ which means any settlement ever built, to “continued settlement activity” which is any new settlements.  This agrees with Obama’s stated position.

Finally added to the statement condemns terrorism “all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza”

The only thing this  proposal made by the US does is restate the Obama administration position, it accomplishes nothing for the Arabs, in fact it hurts the Arab position as it takes away the option of a unilateral declaration of  Palestinian Statehood and it censures terrorism.

The fact that the Obama Administration proposed this compromise it shows how little they have learned about the region during the past two years.  While the resolution itself is tepid, it may be seen as an Obama abandonment of an ally coming so soon after, what was seen by much of the Arab world, as hasty abandonment of Hosni Mubarak, this may be seen as an indication that the US cannot be trusted. 
If the Arabs reject this compromise, and initial reports are that they will, the US will be placed in a position where they agreed with the Arab world about settlements, but voted against the resolution anyway, or if the vote for the resolution, they will be telling Israel that the language was so harsh they offered a toned down version, then supported the harsh version.  Proving once again that the only thing consistent about the US Middle East policy is its inconstancy.
And of course from a political point of view, the compromise which has been trashed all over the pro-Israel community, is another straw of doubt within the pro-Israel community which voted overwhelming for Obama in 2008 and may to a certain extent switch sides in 2012.

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