Brian Christopher Darling has served in the United States Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Qatar. He has master’s degrees in Liberal Studies and Public Service Leadership from Rutgers University and Thomas Edison State University, respectively. Mr. Darling is presently employed at Joint Force Headquarters, New Jersey National Guard. He can be found on twitter @briancdarling and has written for NCO Journal. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.
National Security Situation: The United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted Resolution 2334 on December 23rd, 2016. In addition to demanding the Palestinian leadership take steps to end violence, this resolution called for an end to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.
Date Originally Written: January 26, 2017.
Date Originally Published: February 6, 2017.
Author and / or Article Point of View: Author is a member of the U.S. military. Author believes that U.S. involvement in Israeli politics should be limited. The U.S. and Israel have traditionally enjoyed a strong, informal alliance. Despite the ongoing friction between the Jewish State and its Arab neighbors and the UN, there is no benefit to the U.S. to inject itself into the situation. The author’s MA studies focused on war and politics in the Middle East and Asia and the importance of intergovernmental networking to maintain the current global balance of power.
Background: On December 23, 2016, the UN adopted Security Council Resolution 2334. The adoption of this resolution, and the abstention from the vote by the U.S., involves a number of operational environment variables, to include regional and global relationships, economics, information, technology, and military capabilities.
Significance: The abstention by the U.S. during the vote broke with long-standing policy regarding support for Israel, but was in keeping with the Obama administration’s actions towards the Jewish State. Under Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli politics have moved further to the right, making a two-state solution less feasible.
Option #1: The incoming administration could reaffirm U.S. support for Israel, continuing to disregard the settlement activities that led to the adoption of the resolution.
Risk: By continuing to accept Israeli settlement of occupied territory, the U.S. would further alienate itself from the international community, returning to the unilateral international relations policies of the Bush administration. Option #1 would have an adverse effect on U.S. attempts at coalition building to pursue its interests in the Middle East. The U.S. needs the support of the international community and of intergovernmental organizations like the UN, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank in order to facilitate the resolution of ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and in the Middle East.
Gain: Under Option #1, the U.S. would, in Israel, maintain an ally in the Middle East, and demonstrate strength in the face of its adversaries. The informal U.S.-Israeli alliance is beneficial to the U.S., as Israel is considered the only democracy in the Middle East, and economic ties between the two states run deep. After reaffirming U.S. support for Israel, the U.S. could use this reaffirmation as leverage with Israel to request further assistance in the resolution of other conflicts in the Middle East, to include those ongoing in Syria and Iraq.
Option #2: The U.S. accepts UN Security Council Resolution 2334, affirming that Israel has no legal basis for its ongoing settlement activity.
Risk: The U.S. risks losing Israeli support, in the Jewish State and domestically. Further, the abstention of the U.S. from the 2334 vote and the continued unfavorable treatment of Israel by the UN threaten to further delegitimize the UN in the eyes of the American people.
Gain: Accepting UN 2334 without any further activity would demonstrate the U.S.’ commitment to operating as an integral part of the liberal international system. Having abstained from the vote, the U.S. appears to support the UN. However, in the eyes of U.S. citizens, the vote itself further discredited the UN and garnered public support for the Jewish State. Further, regardless of UN involvement, the economic relationship between the U.S. and Israel would likely continue, regardless of the U.S. stance on the resolution. If the U.S. does nothing, maintaining the policy of noninvolvement or abstention, Israel will remain strong, and will continue to maintain a military hedge against Iran and its proxies.
Other Comments: Israel continues to deal with unfavorable perceptions in the UN due to its settlement activity, and with periodic harassment from a rogue’s gallery of terrorist organizations. The only real threat to Israel comes not from Palestine, but from Iran and its proxies. The military capability of the Jewish state keeps the Iranians at bay, and it is widely assumed that Israel has its own nuclear deterrent capability. If the U.S. does nothing regarding the UN resolution, Israel will remain strong, and will continue to maintain a military edge against Iran and its proxies.
Although the U.S. was the first nation to recognize the Jewish State, Israel no longer needs the U.S. in order to support its activities. The U.S. abstention from the Security Council vote demonstrates U.S. commitment to the liberal international order and to the rule of law as Israeli settlement activity is founded on claims of legitimacy that are dubious at best. At the bottom line, the ultimate interest of the U.S. and of Israel is not the continued legitimacy of the UN, but the continued existence of their respective sovereignty, in the current climate of global politics, the U.S. and Israel will remain relevant long after the UN.