This resolution was born out of inaction and naiveté. As IPF statements have highlighted, in the absence of initiatives to advance two states, others will fill the void.

  • Merely calling on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table is not a sufficient position in support of a two-state solution.   
    • So long as a majority of the members of the Israeli government is opposed to a two-state solution and the Palestinian polity is divided and discredited, this rhetoric will be appropriately recognized as lacking in credibility and sincerity.
  • The need for an initiative underscores the importance of advancing steps such as those being promoted by the Commanders for Israel’s Security’s “Security First” plan, aimed at improving Israel’s security and demonstrating its seriousness about pursuing an eventual negotiated two-state solution – while preserving the opportunity to do so.

It is naive to think that Israeli settlement-building activity and far right-wing policies can be advanced without consequences.

  • The United States’ abstention should be understood as an entirely avoidable outcome that emerged as a result of Israeli inaction and the concomitant advancement of a far right-wing agenda.
    • The recent advancement of Israeli legislation to legalize unauthorized outposts on private Palestinian land demonstrates a fundamental challenge to the two-state solution. The recent nomination of David Friedman as US Ambassador to Israel suggests that the incoming Trump Administration may endorse right-wing policies that endanger Israel’s future.  These developments undoubtedly weighed on the Obama Administration’s decision to abstain rather than veto.
    • It is false to claim that that the US abstention was unprecedented.  Until this vote, President Obama was the only U.S. president to refrain from abstaining or voting in favor of a UN action that criticized Israeli actions. Cumulatively, President Obama’s predecessors did it well over 20 times. President George W. Bush alone did so six times.
    • It was a mistake for Israel to take for granted President Obama’s strong backing of Israel at the UN for the past eight years, while dismissing, countering and even ridiculing Secretary Kerry’s repeated pleas and warnings that constructive steps forward were needed.

IPF’s position on UN Security Council Resolution 2334 was taken after a thorough consideration of the many factors involved.   The problems with this resolution are significant.

  • It makes no mention of land swaps in any final status agreement – a core component of every plan that has ever been floated in every round of negotiations and endorsed even by the Arab League’s Follow-up Committee.
  • It could be read as equally condemning settlements and terrorism, as if these are commensurate.

The fact that the resolution treats all areas east of the Green Line as identical is problematic for three important reasons:

  • First, it shows a lack of understanding of Israeli politics.  Even Israelis who are opposed to current settlement policies view Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs as fundamentally different from settlements east of the security barrier.
    • For example, the resolution effectively treats the Old City of Jerusalem as entirely occupied territory, making any construction in the Jewish Quarter and at the Western Wall Plaza an illegal activity.
    • Lumping together the 80% of Israelis who reside in areas commonly expected to be incorporated into Israel in a final agreement with the 20% who live in settlements east of the Security Barrier (commonly expected to be part of Palestine) undermines prospects of domestic support for any future agreement.  
    • As demonstrated during the early months of the Obama tenure, an unqualified, comprehensive freeze is anathema to most Israelis as well as to the vast majority of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and is therefore not enforceable.
  • Second, it creates a set of incentives for Israel to build anywhere without regard to international opinion or pressure. If Gilo is considered no different than Amona, then Israel might as well build many more Amonas.
  • Third, it runs counter to the plan of the Commanders for Israel’s Security that IPF supports, which includes completing the security barrier, renouncing claims to sovereignty east of the barrier, and freezing all construction there pending a resumption of negotiations.

Ultimately, this resolution risks doing more harm than good.

  • It boxes in the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinians cannot and will not take positions that are more accommodating than those taken by the UN. Therefore, this resolution is likely to only harden Palestinian stances in future border negotiations.
  • The most likely near-term result of the resolution’s passage will be Israeli government announcements of construction in previously untouchable areas, such as E-1 and Givat Hamatos, and enormous pressure on Netanyahu to formally annex Area C.

In our estimation, the resolution is less likely to change Israeli behavior than embolden Israel’s true enemies.

  • This resolution could pave the way for prosecutions at the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as EU sanctions and even sanctions against individual Israelis living beyond the Green Line.
  • Conversely, it is difficult to see how the UNSC’s actions will lead to equivalent sanctions for Palestinian violations of international law or past agreements regarding terror and incitement.

The United Nations is a deeply problematic venue for such a resolution given its single-minded, negative focus on Israel to the exclusion of nearly every other country or global issue.  As Ambassador Powers pointed out in her speech immediately following the U.S. abstention, the UN’s obsession with Israel, while it simultaneously is unable to act on much more clear-cut and pressing issues such as condemning the Assad government for its mass murder in Syria, is a stain upon the organization.

  • If the United Nations Security Council were to be utilized to promote any useful measure, a resolution on parameters for future end-of-conflict negotiations could have been a more constructive approach.
  • A balanced parameters resolution could challenge both Israelis and the Palestinians by acknowledging difficult issues that each side must address in negotiations, such as recognizing Israel “as a Jewish state” while acknowledging the Palestinian desire for a capital in East Jerusalem.  Instead, the settlements resolution only crosses an Israeli red line by treating all settlement activity as illegal.   

Finally, this resolution’s passage is going to further tear apart the American Jewish community and make Israel policy even more of a wedge issue.

  • Already, the Israeli government and many American Jewish organizations are lambasting President Obama as the most anti-Israel president ever while hailing President-elect Trump as a leader who will save Israel from a vindictive adversary. Given the Obama administration’s unprecedented support for Israel’s security and its efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians, this is completely unjustified and flat wrong. Furthermore, given the Obama Administration’s genuine belief in two states versus the mixed signals coming from the Trump team, this is an extremely worrisome development which will only heighten the politicization of support for Israel.