“There are many devices in a man’s heart; but the counsel of Hashem, that shall stand.” Proverbs 19:21 (The Israel Bible™)
President Barack Obama has “nearly ruled out” any lame-duck efforts to push a negotiation framework on Israel through the United Nations (UN), and US officials say this is largely due to Donald Trump’s unexpected victory.
As early as last March, Obama was known to be considering a last-ditch bid for Middle East peace through the UN. Before the presidential election, Obama had ordered up an “options menu” for proceeding with an effort to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians through the UN during his last months in office.
However, pursuing the type of peace plan Obama favored was only possible under the assumption that Democrat Hillary Clinton would succeed him, the Associated Press reported.
Clinton, who campaigned on a strongly pro-Israel platform, might have softened Obama’s terms, but would likely have been willing to work within the UN framework established by Obama.
Trump’s election changed the equation. The Republican President-elect made clear during his campaign that he does not see Israel’s settlements as an obstacle to peace and believes Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel’s capital – positions in complete opposition to those of the Obama administration.
Following his win, Trump’s transition team quickly warned Obama that pushing agendas “contrary to the president-elect’s position” would be seen as an antagonistic move likely to strain the process of passing power to Trump.
“On big, transformative issues where President Obama and President-elect Trump are not in alignment, I don’t think it’s in keeping with the spirit of the transition” to continue advancing policies “that clearly don’t match Trump’s positions,” a Trump advisor told Politico.
While Trump has said he is eager to make “the ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, he is not interested in “coercing” either party, Trump’s Israel advisor, Jason Greenblatt, said earlier in the month, assuring Israel, “He doesn’t intend to force a solution.”
Obama’s backing down comes as a relief to Israeli leaders, who had been bracing for a “November surprise” from the lame-duck president in the form of a UN resolution which could upset the balance of power in favor of the Palestinians, and to pro-Israel American lawmakers, a group of whom urged Obama in September not to abandon Israel at the UN.
With less than two months left in office, Obama is now “highly unlikely” to approve any UN measures which would endanger Israel’s position, US officials have said.