Middle East envoy Tony Blair said Thursday that he believes President Barack Obama launched his peace initiative out of concern for what might happen to Israel if Palestinian statehood is endorsed by the U.N. General Assembly.
Speaking to an audience of Middle East-focused business leaders at London’s Royal Institution, the former British prime minister said that Obama was “frankly worried about the position that Israel is in.”
Blair described Obama’s initiative — rejected by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu — as “an attempt to fill a vacuum which he sees as dangerous, particularly dangerous for Israel in the run-up to September,” when the assembly is expected to take up the issue of Palestinian statehood during the U.N.’s annual meeting.
Such a vote would be potentially damaging for the United States and Israel. Although the move is largely symbolic — the U.S. can veto any such move in the Security Council — a lopsided vote in the General Assembly would leave Washington looking isolated while rallying anti-Israel sentiment in Europe and elsewhere.
Here’s the problem with Blair’s argument that Obama is pushing the 1967-borders-with-swaps plan out of a concern for the long-term safety of Israel: In order to avoid the symbolic problem of a lopsided United Nations vote — and let’s face it, it’s more of a problem for the United States than for Israel; the Israelis are used to being the world’s punching bag at the U.N. — Obama is pushing a tangible security problem.
(A lopsided vote isn’t even that much of a problem to Americans who view the United Nations as a collection of “humanitarian money-launderers, peacekeeper-rapists and a human rights commission that looks like a lifetime-achievement awards ceremony for the world’s torturers,” as Mark Steyn put it.)
The Jerusalem Center offers a video argument that the 1967 borders leave Israel effectively defenseless:
Why does a U.N. vote make Obama worry about Israel’s future, but not a plan that leaves our ally vulnerable to rocket attacks on Tel Aviv airport, gunfire on Israel’s highways, an air-defense system that can’t stop incoming bombers until it’s too late, IDF forces cut off from key cities, etc?
Strangely, despite frequent meetings with Israeli leadership and Israeli friends in America, Barack Obama continues to insist he knows how to secure Israel better than Bibi Netanyahu and the Israelis themselves.