On Tuesday, as the new Congress convened, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross led a contingent of House lawmakers who hoped to reverse the Obama administration's dismal approach to reining in Israel.
The Lakeland Republican introduced a measure condemning the administration's decision to abstain from a United Nations Security Council vote chastising Israel for its development of settlements on land seized during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
A U.S. veto would have killed the U.N. resolution, which, after America declined to intervene, passed unanimously.
Israel's critics contend the settlements, now home to hundreds of thousands of Jews in what many consider to be Palestinian lands, are illegal and impede a long-term peace in one of the most troubled regions of the world by subverting the "two-state solution," through which Palestinians would be granted their own homeland that would include the territory seized by Israel 50 years ago. Israel must concede on this point before meaningful peace can be achieved, the critics — including the United States — contend.
Israel, on the other hand, claims the settlements are its right and were won in combat and due it as a biblical mandate.
But Ross' measure nailed the problem with this particular U.N. vote. Ross' language also reaffirmed the House's view that America should be committed "to the State of Israel as our loyal friend and strong ally in the Middle East."
"President Obama's constant disdain and hostility toward our closest ally is completely unacceptable," Ross said in a statement Tuesday. "The administration's recent refusal to veto the U.N.'s anti-Israel resolution is utterly shameful and flies in the face of the United States' longstanding relationship with Israel."
Ross and those who backed him were correct to highlight the Obama administration's flawed position on this most recent vote. The United States has long supported a two-state solution but only after direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
For far too long, the U.N., which has resided on American soil since 1945, has served as a forum for enemies and rivals of the United States and Israel to express their overt hostility toward both countries. On many such occasions, Israel has often been the lone and most reliable vote against such antagonistic sentiments toward us. Thus, Netanyahu's bellicosity aside, it's nothing short of a slap in the face to our friends in Israel to not have blocked this resolution.
Proponents of the two-state solution can never seem to explain how Israel's security can be assured with a two-state solution. That, it seems, is simply supposed to be a leap of faith for Israel. Additionally, Secretary of State John Kerry, in his now-infamous recent remarks, noted that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic. What Kerry and those of his ilk also never seem to explain is why Israel must surrender its gains while its foes in the region can remain both autocratic and Islamic — two things that do little to ensure Israel's (and perhaps our own) peace or security.
President-elect Donald Trump has positioned himself as a staunch supporter of Israel and has named as one of his top Middle East advisers a confirmed opponent of the two-state solution — and Netanyahu, meanwhile, has openly cheered for Trump's assumption of power on Jan. 20.
Trump has said he'd like to be the president to finally broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We hope he succeeds.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD