So it's near the end of his time in office and President Barack Obama decides to put forever-threatened Israel at more of a disadvantage in maintaining its survival. Interestingly, the move could also weaken a United Nations that indeed needs weakening, but that was hardly the president's intent.
That said, what was his intent, anyway?
An answer of sorts came last week from Secretary of State John Kerry, stern of face, sour of disposition, spouting words like cannon balls, when he gave a speech lasting an hour and 10 minutes at the State Department.
He defended a vote of the U.N. Security Council to stop expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The land belonged to Palestine, he said. The only way to get peace between Israel and Palestine was a two-state solution, namely for Israel to quit occupying the land.
Thus it was, he said, that the United States did not veto a U.N. resolution declaring Israel's actions illegal, thereby likely prompting more sanctions by other countries and lessening one of the few negotiating positions the Israelis had. But then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech, roughly an hour shorter than Kerry's and 100 percent more persuasive.
He noted the Palestinian Authority's wishes went beyond wanting just that land as its own. It wanted the eradication of the Jewish state. Terrorists, bombs and missiles were among its way of saying so. For eight years, the Palestinian leader had refused to negotiate at all. Netanyahu had made hundreds of calls to him without getting return calls and, by the way, there had been some serious offerings in the past.
Israel, of course, is a mere speck in the Arab Middle East, much of which has had Israel's demolition in mind since the country began its modern-age existence in 1948. One war followed another, and one of them was in 1967, when Syria, Egypt and Jordan plotted Israel's demise. Israel won, and that's when it took the West Bank, which then belonged to Jordan.
Some of that land had an Israel connection going back thousands of years, namely Jerusalem and its sacred sites. It also needed to hang onto this disputed territory for its own security's sake until it could be sure Palestine would really embrace peace. Even then, it would keep some of it. The Israelis kept control militarily, and life for the Arabs there has not been free or good. The Palestinian government has barely functioned and its economy is a flop.
So, yes, the situation has been horrible for the Palestinians for decades even though there were ways out. The situation has also been horrible for Israel because, without certain ironclad understandings, its future would be in additional jeopardy. Palestine should come through with those understandings. Consider, however, that Palestine pays monthly salaries to Palestinians who murder Israelis and guess how likely reaching an understanding will be.
As for the U.N., remember how ridden it is with corrupt dictators, how much of it is outright disgusted with Western values and how little attention it has paid to other nations committing gross cruelties almost as a matter habit.
There's congressional talk now about stripping away America's financial contributions, at least until the U.N. backs up on Israel. Some are even wondering if it does not do more harm than good and should go away.
Obama, frustrated that Netanyahu did not want to put Israel at risk for the sake of his own naivete, has disgraced himself with one more last stand that should not have happened. But turn to John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador under President George W. Bush and an advisor to Donald Trump, and we come to a solution. He has suggested giving the land back to Jordan, now an Israeli ally and a country that could govern without conflict and with benefit for all.