By now you’ve likely read about the Obama administration’s decision to abstain on a controversial United Nations vote. The Hill has a review of what that decision allowed.
On Friday, the Security Council voted 14-0 on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory as a “flagrant violation” of international law that have “”no legal validity.” It demands a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities,” saying this “is essential for salvaging the two-state solution.”
The United States has veto power in the Security Council and has used it for similar resolutions in the past. The Obama administration’s decision to abstain represents a break from the longstanding U.S. policy of shielding Israel from U.N. reproaches.
A variety of reasons could explain the president’s decision, including demonstrating a real dislike for Israel. But perhaps he did it in order to give Donald Trump a headache that he’d have to deal with early in his administration.
Remember, last week the president made it more difficult for his successor to throw Muslims out of the country. As the Los Angeles Times reported last Thursday:
The Obama administration is taking apart a controversial, dormant national registry program that tracked visitors from countries with active terrorist groups for several years following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. …
The move would make it more difficult for President-elect Donald Trump to revive the registry, which hasn’t been used since 2011. The Department of Homeland Security determined it was ineffective and didn’t improve security. Civil rights advocates have long said the program was discriminatory.
President Obama has little regard for Trump; the registry issue was one way for Obama to thumb his nose at Trump. Now by allowing the United Nations to speak loudly that it has little regard for more settlements being built by the Israelis, Obama makes it necessary for Trump to do something about it early in his term.
He wrote: “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”
Trump undoubtedly will be a more pro-Israel president than Obama has been. But he’ll have to demonstrate that early in his term. And any time he has to devote to that means some other issue has to be shelved, however temporarily.
A headache? Maybe that weighed into Obama’s thinking.