Quoting unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal is speculating that US President Barack Obama "may try to force a diplomatic resolution for Israel and the Palestinians at the United Nations." Why? Because he is seeking to "burnish [his] progressive brand for his postpresidency."
Aware of several options Obama might pursue, Israeli diplomats, says WSJ, are 'girding' themselves for this and other possible initiatives.
Something is afoot. The White House, says WSJ, is "unusually tight lipped about what, if anything, it might have in mind." But it must have something in mind. It "has asked the State Department to develop an options menu for the President's final weeks [in office]."
Vis-a-vis Israel and the Palestinians, there are three things Obama might do.
One option is to sponsor, or simply permit, a UN Security Council resolution that condemns Israeli settlement construction. Adding teeth to this, Obama might seek to the tax-exempt status of people or organizations involved in constructions.
Under the Oslo accords governing the disputed areas of Judea and Samaria, construction is not forbidden to either side. In fact, Palestinians are agressively building throughout the territory.
Another option is to "seek formal recognition of a Palestinian state at the Security Council." This would be a move in direct contradiction to the prevaling view in the US Congress that Palestine lacks the necessary attributes of statehood. It would also be an open dare to the incoming President to reverse such an iniative. Again, however, Obama might proceed in order to establish his own credential for postpresidency life.
The third option Obaman might pursue, and the most destruction one, would be to sponsor a UN Security Council resolution that would set "parameters" for a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
According to the Wall Street Journal, "this would be worse than a crime—it would be a blunder. U.S. policy has long and wisely been that only Israelis and Palestinians can work out a peace agreement between themselves, and that efforts to impose one would be counterproductive. Whatever parameters the U.N. established would be unacceptable to any Israeli government, left or right, thereby destroying whatever is left of a peace camp in Israel."
Any of these options carries the threat of wrecking Israel's recent diplomatic gains with its Sunni Arab neighbors. Like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
What should Obama do?
He "may be the last person on earth to get the memo," says WSJ, "but after decades of fruitless efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it might be wiser for the U.S. to step back until the Palestinians recognize that peace cannot be imposed from the outside. If Mr. Obama is still seeking a Middle East legacy at this late stage in his presidency, his best move is do nothing to make it worse."