Senior US officials revealed that the President is looking to initiate a final negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority using United Nations Security Council resolutions, a step that would obligate not only Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but effectively determine the direction of US policy for the president’s successor as well.
The report comes ahead of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel on Tuesday, where he is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and senior Palestinian Authority officials.
On Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office reported that Netanyahu’s annual trip to the US, planned for later this month, had been cancelled. Israeli officials remarked that the cancellation was in part due to President Obama’s refusal to schedule a meeting with the Prime Minister. Later on Monday, the White House issued a statement denying those claims, asserting that the president had in fact invited the Israeli leader to talks during his visit.
According to the plan described by senior US officials, Obama is considering reviving the dormant Middle East Quartet, a diplomatic body including the US, UN, EU, and Russia, to apply pressure to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume active negotiations.
The President is also considering use of a United Nations Security Council resolution to forcibly extract concessions from Israel and the PA. The US has until now vetoed any such resolutions, though Mr. Obama has in the past threatened to allow them to pass.
A Security Council resolution would be binding upon all parties, unlike General Assembly measures which are non-obligatory recommendations. Such a resolution would remain in force even after the president leaves office next January, effectively shaping the future of American policy in the region for Mr. Obama’s successors.