To Undo the Effect of Obama’s Shameful Betrayal at the UN, President Trump Can Initiate an Israel-America Treaty
By Susan L. Rosenbluth, TheJewishVoiceAndOpinion.com
For those wracking their brains trying to find a constructive response to President Barack Obama’s December 23rd betrayal in the UN Security Council of Israel as well as the vast majority of pro-Israel Americans, journalist Ira Stoll has an idea: Encourage President-Elect Donald Trump and the incoming US Senate to pass a treaty, making it clear that neither America nor Israel recognize the validity of or will be bound in any way by UN Security Council Resolution 2334.
“A treaty could make clear that the two nations are united in their dedication to pursuing peace and security in the face of the threat of extremist Islamist terrorism, which has emerged as the national security challenge of the 21st century in the way that Nazism and Communism were the challenges of the 20th century,” said Mr. Stoll in a piece published in The New York Sun, an online publication.
At present, there is no such treaty between the two countries and, according to Mr. Stoll, in the absence of such an accord, “the US-Israel relationship rests on tenuous legal ground no matter how deep it is in other ways.” A treaty would be a way to cement that connection into law and would help get the relationship between the two countries back on track after the damage wrought by Mr. Obama’s behavior.
That is not to say there are no agreements between the US and Israel. They have, for example, a free trade agreement which was enacted in 1985 and what many consider a deeply flawed memorandum-of-understanding on military aid reached earlier this year.
But, as Mr. Stoll pointed out, many of the countless other documents governing the relationship between Israel and the US were undercut by the vote at the UN Security Council.
This includes the April 14, 2004, letter from then-President George W. Bush to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon recognizing that the US’s “steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders.”
That letter, which was never recognized by the Obama administration, noted that “new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers” meant that it was “unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”
“That letter was effectively torn to shreds by [Security Council Resolution 2334],” said Mr. Stoll.
Shredding the US Jerusalem Embassy Act
Similarly destroyed by the UN Security Council vote was the US Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, a law that says US policy is to recognize that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected” and that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”
Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed only because the Obama administration abstained, refers to all of Judea and Samaria, including the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem, where the Kotel stands, “Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”
According to Resolution 2334, “occupied territories” include Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem; the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where, according to Jewish tradition, the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah, are buried; and the Jewish presence throughout Jerusalem’s suburbs and Judean and Samaria cities and towns, whose positions, said Mr. Stoll, “secure the major population centers of the modern Jewish state from obliteration.”
The resolution calls Israel’s “settlement activity,” which means any Jewish presence in those areas, “a flagrant violation” of international law that has “no legal validity.” The resolution demands that Israel stop such activity and “fulfill its obligation as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
All previous US administrations, Democrat and Republican, have vetoed such resolutions, recognizing that negotiations on issues such as the disputed land captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, must be settled by the two sides directly.
Law of the Land
Mr. Stoll’s proposed treaty would take advantage of Article Two of the Constitution, which gives the President “power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur” and Article Six, which adds that, along with the Constitution, “all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the US, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land.”
According to Mr. Stoll, a treaty does not have to mean that Washington necessarily embraces every Israeli-Jewish community in Judea or Samaria, nor does it mean that Israel and the US must relinquish the land-for-peace equation, even though many in the pro-Israel community would prefer a “peace-for-peace” approach.
But once this treaty is ratified by two-thirds of the Senate, it will become US law, outweighing any actions by the UN Security Council.
“Such a vote on a future US-Israel treaty has the potential to demonstrate dramatically in Washington—the city where President Obama has chosen to live after he leaves office—how far outside the American mainstream is Mr. Obama’s approach to Israel,” said Mr. Stoll, noting that Mr. Obama was never wiling to submit “his precious Iran nuclear deal” to the US Senate for ratification.
The fact that the Iran nuclear deal is not a treaty makes it far easier for the new Trump administration to consign it to the dustbin of history.
The Republicans enjoy a 53-seat majority in the Senate, meaning they need attract only seven Democrats to secure passage of the suggested treaty with Israel. Mr. Stoll seemed fairly confident that the deep level of “bipartisan disgust” with the way Mr. Obama has handled the entire issue of US-Israel relations could make ratification of the new treaty probable. The UN Security Council resolution has been denounced by virtually all Republicans and many Democrats as well.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democrat minority leader, called the Obama administration’s action “extremely frustrating, disappointing, and confounding.” Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called the Obama abstention “unconscionable,” and Sen Joe Donnelly (D-Ind) said he was “profoundly disappointed by the lack of American leadership shown at the UN.”
Sen Mark Warner (D-VA) said he was “dismayed” by the abstention, and Sen Ben Cardin (D-MD) said he was “greatly disappointed.”
“I am deeply disappointed that the administration set aside longstanding US policy to allow such a one-sided resolution to pass,” said Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Mr. Stoll had some suggestions as to where the signing ceremony of the new Israel-US treaty could be held, including outside the UN building itself on the East Side of Manhattan or at the Kotel in Jerusalem.
Another possibility would be the US Capitol Rotunda in Washington, where, Mr. Stoll recalled, in 1995, then- Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and then-Sen Pat Moynihan (D-NY) met for a commemoration of 3,000 years of the Holy City of Jerusalem. At that meeting, Mr. Rabin made clear that, despite all their disagreements, Israelis and their supporters agreed on one concept: “the wholeness of Jerusalem, the continuation of its existence as capital of the State of Israel.”
“There are no two Jerusalems. There is only one Jerusalem. For us, Jerusalem is not subject to compromise, and there is no peace without Jerusalem. Jerusalem, which was destroyed eight times, where, for years, we had no access to the remnants of our Temple, was ours, is ours, and will be ours—forever,” said Mr. Rabin.
Just Like “Zionism Is Racism”
Mr. Stoll recalled that Mr. Moynihan was serving as Ambassador to the UN in the administration of President Gerald Ford when the notorious “Zionism is racism” resolution passed. In a recently published letter to a friend, written in 1975, Mr. Moynihan said that he “never came near to understanding the Holocaust until I encountered the Zionism resolution.”
For Mr. Moynihan, “It was the secret behind the Holocaust. The charge was too hideous to believe.”
At the time, Mr. Moynihan believed the 1975 vote was “the last great horror of the Hitler-Stalin era.”
That assessment, said Mr. Stoll, was wrong because the recent Security Council resolution, which passed only because of Mr. Obama’s decision to abstain, is “a new horror” that is “reminiscent of how [Washington] treated passengers on the St Louis” in 1939, when over 900 German Jews were denied entry to the US and sent back to Europe because the US denied the possibility of the death camps.