In the wake of the Israeli election – in which now re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spectacularly unmasked himself and his supporters as diehard opponents of a diplomatic resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and in which Netanyahu engaged, as the New York Times put it, in a “racist rant” against the Palestinian citizens of Israel – the Obama Administration is talking about taking steps to move the venue of diplomacy to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict back to the United Nations Security Council.
This would be a big step in the right direction. The United Nations Security Council was always the right venue to talk about resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. After the First Gulf War in 1991, the first Bush Administration successfully advanced the claim that the US, not the UN Security Council, should be in charge of diplomacy to end the Israel-Palestine conflict. This claim was tolerable as long as there was a belief that at the end of the day, the US would successfully pressure the Israeli government to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians to achieve a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. The belief that the US will effectively pressure the Israeli government to negotiate in good faith is now dead; with it should die the idea that the US must be in charge. To paraphrase what President Obama said about health care reform: the US should be at the table, but it should not own the table. The US has a veto at the UN Security Council, but others who are more interested in a diplomatic resolution than the Netanyahu lobby also have a say at the Security Council.
The announcement by the Israeli Prime Minister that he is dropping even the pretense of supporting a diplomatic resolution to the conflict should be the last nail in the coffin of the dogma that the US must be in charge. The Netanyahu lobby has too much power in Washington for Washington to be the center of a resolution to the conflict. That is precisely why the Netanyahu lobby has insisted that Washington must be the center of Israel-Palestine diplomacy – because their agenda is to prevent a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.
Of course, if the Obama Administration moves to help return the Israel-Palestine diplomacy file back to the UN Security Council where it belongs, there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Netanyahu lobby. Americans should keep in mind who is driving the kvetching: the Republicans who brought you the Iraq war, the Republicans who are pushing for war with Iran, the 47 Senate Republicans who tried to blow up diplomacy with Iran, the Republicans who invited Netanyahu to attack multilateral Iran diplomacy in a re-election campaign address to a joint session of Congress, the Republicans who want to prohibit you, an American citizen, from sunning yourself on the beach in Cuba; the Republicans who are insisting that the United Nations Security Council is the wrong venue to ratify a multilateral diplomatic deal with Iran, even though the cornerstone of international diplomacy around Iran’s nuclear program going back to 2006 – under the Bush Administration – has been UN Security Council resolutions.
Here’s what the French Ambassador to the US had to say about the silly Republican claim that the UN Security Council is the wrong venue for ratifying a multilateral diplomatic deal with Iran:
#IranTalks. If a deal, a UNSCR is not an option, it is a necessity. No debate on that. Unavoidable.
— Gérard Araud (@GerardAraud) March 13, 2015
Reflecting on the Israeli election, Paul Waldman wrote at the Washington Post,
with Netanyahu’s journey from the far right to the far-far-right, we can be less concerned with his opinion about Iran’s nuclear program or anything else … this election could convince many more Americans that blindly supporting whatever position the Israeli government takes on any issue isn’t good enough anymore.
This should apply to Israel-Palestine diplomacy as well as to Iran diplomacy. The tail-must-wag-dog view of the Netanyahu lobby is that if Netanyahu tells the US what to do, we must heed it, but the US must not dare to criticize Netanyahu, and if we do, Netanyahu should ignore it. Step by step, we should move to turn this view on its head. The dog should re-assert itself over its tail.
The first step to getting the dog to re-assert itself over its tail is to get the Senate to say no to Netanyahu’s demands to blow up US diplomacy with Iran. You can urge your Senators to say no to Netanyahu here.