Pawlenty statement on Obama's Israel reversal

You have all no doubt seen the Foreign Policy piece detailing the Obama administration's agreement to rebuke Israel in a U.N. Security Council "statement."  Below is an on-the-record statement from Gov. Tim Pawlenty:

"The Obama administration has shown an astonishing unwillingness to stand by Israel at the United Nations, an organization with a long history of blaming Israel for just about every problem in the Middle East.  It’s time for our UN ambassador to finally show some leadership, draw a line in the sand, and defend our historic ally.  Global stability depends more than ever on a respected America that is loyal to our allies and realistic about the malice of our adversaries."

BACKGROUND

In major reversal, U.S. agrees to rebuke Israel in Security Council

By Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy, February 16, 2011 - 6:00 PM

http://turtlebay.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/16/in_major_reversal_us_to_rebuke_israel_in_security_council

The U.S. has informed Arab governments that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.

The move by the Obama administration appears calculated to avoid having to cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.  But it would place the United States in the position of  breaking with its key ally and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to Israel to stop its construction of new settlements.

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined the new U.S. offer in a closed door meeting on Tuesday with the Arab Group, a bloc of Arab countries from North Africa and the Middle East. In exchange for scuttling the Palestinian resolution, the United States would support the council statement, consider supporting a U.N. Security Council visit to the Middle East, the first since 1979, and commit to supporting strong language criticizing Israel's settlement policies in a future statement by the Middle East Quartet.

The U.S.-backed draft statement -- which was first reported by Al Hurra -- was obtained by Turtle Bay. In it, the Security Council "expresses its strong opposition to any unilateral actions by any party, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community, and reaffirms, that it does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process." The statement also condemns "all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza, and stresses the need for calm and security for both peoples."

U.S. officials were not available for comment, but two Security Council diplomats confirmed the proposal. The Arab Group was scheduled to meet this afternoon to formulate a formal response to the American offer. Council diplomats said that the discussions were fluid and that there was still the possibility that the U.S. draft would be subject to further negotiations. They said it was also not yet certain that the U.S. offer would satisfy the Arab Group, and that the U.S. may be forced to veto the Palestinian resolution.

U.S. officials argue that the only way to resolve the Middle East conflict is through direct negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinians. For weeks, the Obama administration has refused to negotiate with the Palestinians on a resolution condemning the settlements as illegal, signaling that they would likely veto it if it were put to a vote. The Palestinians were planning to put the resolution to a vote later this week. But Security Council statements of the sort currently under consideration are voted on the bases of consensus in the 15-nation council.

The United States has , however, been isolated in the 15-nation council. Virtually all 14 other member states are prepared to support the Palestinian resolution, according to council diplomats. A U.N. Security Council resolution generally carries greater political, and legal force, than a statement from the council's president.

The U.S. concession comes as the Middle East is facing a massive wave of popular demonstrations that have brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and are posing a challenge to governments in Algeria, Bahrain, and Iran.