The US Congress has swiftly moved to rebuff the efforts by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reverse long-standing American policy in relation to Israel. By a vote of 342:80 Congress resolved on 5 January 2017:
“the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 undermined the long-standing position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel, reversing decades of bipartisan agreement”Congress’s decision goes a long way to restoring America’s reputation and integrity.
Vice President-elect Pence has certainly signalled the incoming Trump Administration’s approval of such Congress action with the following tweet:
Congress now needs to rectify Obama’s abandonment of the written commitments made to Israel by President Bush in his letter to then Israeli Prime Minister Sharon on 14 April 2004 (“Commitments”).
Congress has a vested interest in seeing those Commitments restored - because it overwhelmingly approved Bush giving those Commitments to Israel by a massive vote of 502 to 12.
Among those voting to support those Commitments was Senator Hillary Clinton.
Senator John Kerry – whilst not casting a vote in the Senate – made his position very clear to moderator Tim Russert on Meet The Press on 18 April 2004:
Russert: On Thursday, President Bush broke with the tradition and policy of six predecessors when he said that Israel can keep part of the land seized in the 1967 Middle East War and asserted the Palestinian refugees cannot go back to their particular homes. Do you support President Bush?
Kerry: Yes.Subsequent decisions by both Clinton and Kerry respectively as Secretary of State played an active role in aiding and abetting Obama’s abandonment of the Bush Commitments - marking a shameful period in American history.
Bush gave his Commitments to Israel for the following stated reasons:
“We welcome the disengagement plan you have prepared, under which Israel would withdraw certain military installations and all settlements from Gaza, and withdraw certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank. These steps described in the plan will mark real progress toward realizing my June 24, 2002 vision, and make a real contribution towards peace. We also understand that, in this context, Israel believes it is important to bring new opportunities to the Negev and the Galilee. We are hopeful that steps pursuant to this plan, consistent with my vision, will remind all states and parties of their own obligations under the roadmap.
The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking represents.”Neither Bush nor Sharon could have envisaged what followed:
1. Hamas installed as the Government in Gaza;
2. a terrorist tunnel network being dug into Israel;
3. thousands of rockets indiscriminately fired into Israeli population centres;
4. chaos in Sinai;
Clinton and Kerry should have resigned in protest at Obama abandoning the Bush Commitments.5. three wars with heavy Jewish and Arab casualties;
Reaffirming those Commitments should be an immediate priority for Congress – which is clearly in no mood to allow Obama to do any further damage.
Congress has signalled it will not tolerate Obama or Kerry attempting to subvert American foreign policy on Israel at the forthcoming international conference in Paris on 15 January or in the Security Council in the last five days of Obama’s presidency.
America can stand tall and proud. American commitments to Israel will be honoured once again.