The annual opening of the UN General Assembly, which took place this week, was attended by the ususal speeches from foreign leaders. Netanyahu’s speech was excellent. Palestinian “President-for-life” Mahmoud Abbas lied, and then lied again.
As for US President Obama, Israel had been on edge, waiting for “the shoe to drop” in Obama’s speech, but in the end, at least as far as Israel is concerned, it was fairly anodyne, though not without the standard condemnation of the settlements as an obstacle to peace.
Here are a few items relevant to Israel, the peace process (such as it is), the Middle East crisis, and our relations with the US both against the background of the UN General Assemby (UNGA) and also the recently concluded deal with Israel granting Israel a military aid package worth $38 billion over 10 years.
First, some background from Arutz Sheva:
In what will be his last speech at the UN General Assembly as President of the United States, Barack Obama outlined what he sees as the great successes in the international sphere of his eight-year term as President.
Really! When you look around the world and see the imposition of tyranny, the rise of despotic regimes, and the alarming rise of Islamic terrorism on every continent – in Europe, in Asia, in the Middle East and even in the United States itself! – how can he say that with a straight face?
During a section of the speech listing accommodations he thinks can easily be made on the international level, Obama mentioned Israel, saying that the Palestinians should certainly end incitement to terror and recognize Israel but also that “Israel must understand it can’t permanently continue to build on Palestinian land.”
Bla bla, same old same old. This sentence simply shows us that Obama and his White House team have learned nothing and forgotten everything.
It’s not only about Israel that Obama misses the point entirely:
President Obama also spoke about the Syrian civil war, once again rejecting the notion of a military solution to the conflict. US and Russian officials are meeting in New York together with representatives of dozens of other countries to discuss further strategy after the recent truce brokered in Syria completely collapsed over the past few days.
“There’s no ultimate military victory to be won,” Obama told the General Assembly, “we’re going to have to pursue the hard work of the diplomacy that aims to stop the violence and
deliver aid to those in need.”
The ONLY solution in Syria is going to be a military one. Diplomacy can only take you so far, but if armies and rebels and allies won’t lay down their arms then military means are the only way to enforce if not actual peace then at least a cessation of violence. The Russians may agree to talk peace and ceasefires till everyone is blue in the face but it is blindingly clear, from evidence on the ground, that what they say and what they do are two entirely different things. See how the Russians bombed an aid convoy to Aleppo this week. The same applies to Turkey: just look at who they are bombing. It’s not always ISIS.
A senior member of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s entourage stressed on Wednesday that the Prime Minister’s meeting with President Barack Obama in New York was positive, adding that the two leaders agree on most issues, with the exception of the issue of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria.
“Even President Obama said that the meeting was positive. It’s no secret that there are differences in opinion – but there is consensus on most issues, except for the issue of the settlements,” the official said.
“Everyone in the region and the world understand Israel’s strength,” the official continued. “It is a country with intelligence capabilities like no other. It is clear that President Obama has a certain view and the Prime Minister also has a clear view. But it is also clear that the issue of the settlements is not the root of the conflict. That is nonsense.”
The source added that “to come and say that that is the root of this conflict is simply nonsense. We are ready to meet the Palestinian Authority but it must give up the right of return and recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
Israellycool has the video of their last press conference:
Jack Engelhard even called the meeting dull!
They met, the prime minister of Israel and the president of the United States and for the first time, nobody got hurt.
This was no rumble in the jungle, like Ali versus Foremen, or like Ali versus Frazier, when somebody is bound to go down.
… This meeting in New York on Wednesday was dullsville – Thank goodness!
Maybe so because it is the last time these two fighters will be meeting, officially, and they’ve had enough.
… They even came out of their corners smiling, Bibi and Barack, yes indeed, they are now on a first-name basis…. They even ended up smiling. Netanyahu invited Obama to Jerusalem. Obama promised to be there with the Mrs. and the kids, and there was no questioning Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Okay, Obama did mention the two-state solution thing. But it sounded like something he has to say because…well, because.
Same business about “the settlements” that Obama mentioned as an obstacle to peace, but Bibi ducked that and let it slide for another day with another president,…
Netanyahu also ignored other old business, like Obama’s terrible blunder as to the Iran Nuke Deal. This too is for another day.
…The President of the United States appeared to be tired, and tired of this particular brawl.
… This is not to say that there won’t be flare-ups. The next three months will prove if Obama has truly seen the light.
Danger lurks ahead, particularly at the UN. It is still to be determined if Obama will stand with Israel when the votes are counted in the coming days.
Can Obama really be counted on as a friend of the entire Jewish State, including Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria? It would be naïve to say so.
Remember, we are just talking about one day in New York. Remember also that just the other day he spoke of Israel occupying “Arab land.” (Wherever that is.)
Repeated demands against Israel, to have her relinquish territory, at a time when a fattened Iran keeps threatening the Jewish State, qualifies as a sucker punch.
Meanwhile, the two men shook hands and reminded one another of the enduring friendship that exists between the United States and Israel.
Now that…now that is so very exciting and so very welcome.
The JPost looks back at previous bitter meetings between Netanyahu and Obama and remarks how things have changed for the better, or perhaps the two leaders have just run out of steam:
The two men took pains during a cordial photo opportunity to radiate a sense that – after the bitter Iran battle – they were letting bygones be bygones. During the brief photo-op following their meeting, they stressed what united them, rather than what divided them.
Both said what they knew the other wanted to hear. Obama talked about increasing the 10-year military aid package to Israel (which he subsequently has done), and about blunting Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region. He also did not speak about a return to the 1967 lines, or a construction freeze in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
And Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution, and thanked the president for bolstering Israel’s security. He didn’t mention the Iran agreement.
This is not to say that all is rosy between the two governments. Congress is now investigating how the Obama Administration funded a campaign to unseat Netanyahu: [Note: I previously blogged about this scandal here].
Congress on Friday launched a wide-ranging probe into a secret Obama administration-funded campaign to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to information exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The probe comes on the heels of an internal government report determining that the State Department provided hundreds of thousands to an organization that plotted to unseat Netanyahu in the country’s 2015 election.
OneVoice, which was awarded $465,000 in U.S. grants through 2014, has been under congressional investigation since 2015, when it was first accused of funneling some of that money to partisan political groups looking to unseat Netanyahu. This type of behavior by non-profit groups is prohibited under U.S. tax law.
A group of nine leading lawmakers led by Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) are now formally petitioning the State Department to come clean about the effort and provide answers about how U.S. taxpayer dollars were permitted to be spent on an organization working against the elected leader of America’s closest Middle East ally, according to a readout of the investigation obtained by the Free Beacon.
In short, summing up the UN General Assembly and the newly agreed military aid package to Israel, one could safely say “No fireworks, no major disagreements, more of the same, nothing new here, let’s move along”.
But we cannot rest easy even now. We still need to be wary of a President Obama who will feel free to act in the UN as he pleases in the gap between the US elections and the inauguration of the new president. Obama may not have Israel’s back at the UN in that time-frame:
There is significant bipartisan concern in Washington that President Barack Obama “won’t have Israel’s back” at the United Nations following the election of his successor in November, a prominent Middle East expert told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.
Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, spoke with The Algemeiner a day after 88 US senators sent a letter to Obama urging him to veto any one-sided resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the remainder of his time in office.
Will those brave senators – a majority of the Senate – have any influence? Are our fears ungrounded? We have to wait and see.