Ambassador Samantha Power, defending the U.S. decision not to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, stated that the vote was “fully in line with the bipartisan history of how American presidents have approached the issue,” citing alleged precedent from previous administrations. However, writes Peter Berkowitz, both her claim and similar statements issued by the presidential foreign-policy guru Ben Rhodes are demonstrably false; he outlines how the incoming president can undo the damage:
While previous administrations have criticized settlements as bad policy, it is the Obama administration that deviates from longstanding American practice by maintaining that every last inch of the West Bank—the territory beyond the Green Line held by Jordan on the eve of the June 1967 Six-Day War—is lawfully Palestinian land. In the very 1982 address on the Middle East that Power cites in defense of Resolution 2334, President Reagan declared, “In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten-miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.” . . .
Power is wrong on legal grounds as well as on security and historical ones. The Green Line is the 1949 armistice line to which Israel and Jordan agreed to end the war begun by five Arab armies invading Israel after it declared independence on the expiration of the British Mandate in May 1948. The armistice lines have no inherent legal significance. . . .
[S]hortly after he takes the oath of office, Donald Trump should invoke Article I, Section 8, Clause 10 of the United States Constitution, which gives Congress power to “define . . . offenses against the law of nations.” President Trump should ask Congress to pass a law stating that the UN resolution is such an offense and shall not be recognized by any U.S. entity as authoritative. The law should impose sanctions against any U.S. person or entity that cooperates in the enforcement of the resolution. . . .
[T]he Obama administration’s efforts to use international law to criminalize the Netanyahu government’s disagreement with it over how Israel might best achieve security and peace should be forcefully repudiated, certainly by those who believe that international law should not be degraded into a nasty brew of moral posturing, political maneuvering, and personal payback.