Former Israeli envoy to Washington, Michael Oren, said the United States is “likely” not to veto an expected United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Oren’s remarks were made at the New York launch of his new book Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide on Thursday evening.
Responding to a question from the audience about Israel’s public diplomacy on the Palestinian issue, Oren brought up the expected upcoming move at the U.N. and stated emphatically that “the United States is likely not to cast a veto.”
Oren said that “Israel could be much more proactive in preempting – the way we used to know how to preempt – threats, and the way we preempt the threat that is now emerging on the [United Nations] Security Council, with either a French and/or New Zealand resolution.”
The possibility of the withdrawal of U.S. cover for Israel at the Security Council was first speculated in November, 2014, and was openly implied by Obama administration officials in March this year.
“We’re currently evaluating our approach,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at the time, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We’re not going to prejudge what we would do if there was a U.N. action.”
Later in March, a group of U.S. senators warned Obama against stripping Israel of diplomatic protection at the Security Council.
According to an Israeli report in May, Obama told associates that he intends to veto any French proposal for a U.N. Security Council resolution mandating the creation of a Palestinian state.
But earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power prompted concern from congressional lawmakers after she refused to categorically say if the U.S. would veto the potential Security Council resolution.
Asked directly during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing whether the U.S. would exercise its veto power to turn back such a resolution, Samantha Power was noncommittal, the U.S. News & World Report said.
“I really am going to resist making blanket declarations on hypothetical resolutions. Our position, again, I think has been very clear for some time,” Power said. “I have said, again, we would oppose anything that was designed to punish Israel or undermine Israel’s security. But I think, again, it’s perilous. There’s no resolution in front of us.”
In his talk at the book launch on Thursday, Oren said the passing of the U.N. resolution would likely be used by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “as evidence in his war crimes charges against us in the International Criminal Court.”
To preempt the U.N. threat Oren suggested that Israel publicly declare three positions. Firstly, the Jewish state should announce that while “we realize there is no Palestinian partner,” nevertheless, “we are always going to be at the table.” Secondly, he said Israel should reaffirm that “we still subscribe to the Bar Ilan formula of two states even though it’s probably not realizable for the foreseeable future.” Thirdly, it should be declared that Israel will only build in settlements likely to remain part of Israel in a peace deal, namely the large blocs in Jerusalem’s suburbs.
Oren also indicated that Abbas in some ways presents a greater threat to Israel than Gaza based terror group Hamas.
“The irony of the thing is that Hamas presents a tactical threat to Israel with its rockets, it’s Mahmoud Abbas with the attempt to sanction and boycott us which is the strategic threat,” Oren said. “Any Israeli security official will tell you just what I’m telling you now, he’s the threat, we can preempt the threat by saying to the world [these] three things.”
Oren’s book and accompanying media op-eds and interviews have made waves over the past week, specifically over his expansive and detailed criticism of President Obama’s policy towards Israel.