In abstaining from the vote on the recently passed United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that condemned Israel’s settlement policy, the departing Obama administration at best took a “neutral” stance on a U.N. measure targeting a stalwart American ally, and at worst betrayed that ally under the guise of neutrality.
President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power might have believed a U.S. abstention would be perceived as a softer blow to Israel than voting in favor of UNSC Resolution 2334, which demands that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities” and underscores the U.N. stance that eastern Jerusalem as well as other territories acquired by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War are “occupied territory” — including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest sites.
On a practical level, abstaining from the vote was tantamount to voting in favor of the resolution, since the U.S. could have used its veto power in the Security Council to nix the measure entirely — as had been American policy for decades on one-sided U.N. proposals targeting Israel. But let’s be generous for a moment. Let’s assume the administration was in fact being “neutral” by abstaining. Even so, this decision represents a misguided foreign policy strategy that has characterized the Obama years: taking a cold and dispassionate approach to relationships with U.S. allies who should be cherished.