What if the Palestinians turn to the U.N.?

Tony Karon writes:

Israel is worried, according to press reports in the country, that the United States will not “rush to veto” a planned U.N. Security Council resolution condemning ongoing Israeli settlement construction. The resolution is being drafted by Arab countries exasperated by the failure of the U.S. to pressure the Israelis to halt construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the U.N. deems illegal. The draft may be introduced as early as this week, according to Israeli media, and the Israeli foreign ministry is reportedly mustering a diplomatic full court press to counter the move. While the U.S. has a longstanding tradition of running interference for Israel at the U.N., the Obama Administration may find itself hard-pressed to veto a resolution condemning the same Israeli behavior that Washington itself has publicly deemed illegitimate — and which the Administration has spent months trying in vain to cajole the Israelis into halting.

The Palestinians have insisted, along with the Obama Administration, that Israel refrain from building settlements in occupied territory as a precondition for peace talks. Though the U.S. dropped that effort two weeks ago, the Palestinians continue to press the matter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had late last year instituted a 10-month partial moratorium on construction, and talks between the two sides finally got under way in August. But the Palestinians called a halt a month later as Israel’s moratorium expired and construction resumed. And the best efforts of the Obama Administration to secure even a temporary reinstatement of the moratorium proved fruitless.

While Washington hopes to make progress by conducting parallel negotiations on substantive issues with both sides, the Palestinians and their Arab allies no longer seem willing to stay on that path and leave the matter in U.S. hands.

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