THE BLOG
12/29/2016 02:09 pm ET Updated Dec 29, 2017

Donald Trump Can End Up The Big Winner Following The UNSC Resolution And Kerry Speech

In the case of the Middle East, Security Council resolutions are more often than not, just a collection of quotable, oft-used cliches with no real enforceable effect, and resolution 242 from the 22nd of November 1967, laying the foundations for lasting Middle East peace, following Israel's victory in the war of self defense of June 1967, is one such example. Time will tell about the most recent resolution, no 2334, one which put on the table, for all to see, the depth of the divide between the ''best allies'', US and Israel. If this is such an ''historic'' resolution, then one is left to wonder, why is the Obama Administration planning to initiate another slap in the face of Israel, this time an announcement about recognizing Palestinian statehood, an announcement which will be made in the remaining days before this administration is becoming history. The John Kerry speech falls somewhat short of that, and probably it is so, because the big speech is still the one that President Obama will deliver . However, both the UNSC vote and the Kerry speech, even if thought out and planned well in advance, and the duo Obama and Kerry did exactly that, seem, more often than not, to backfire, to lead to unintended consequences. Prime Minister Netanyahu contributes to the doomsday feeling with his highly exaggerated reaction, but also that reaction may have unintended consequences, chief among them is the turning of President-elect Trump into the final arbiter of the future developments with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian situation, a position of centrality which no American Administration enjoyed prior to him.

Here is how it all can still be so much different than the expectations of President Obama and Secretary Kerry. Resolution 2334 has no automatic enforcement mechanism, and if the Council and the new Secretary General ever wish it to have such power, they have to go back to the entire plenum of fifteen states, and this time, the American Veto power will be in place. After two to three times when this exercise will repeat itself, the resolution itself will have its place of dishonor in the museum of futile UN resolutions. That said, every such vote will give Trump an unprecedented power, as he will play the game with Israel, the Palestinians and Russia. As of the 23rd of December 2016, P.M Netanyahu is more dependent on the US than ever before. Any time when an American veto will be solicited by him and will be used, Netanyahu will be reminded, in the most unmistakeable terms, who is the boss. There is no nicer way to put it, but the art of the deal will be on the table throughout the next four years, whenever Israel will need the US, and it will need it many times. Netanyahu can, of course, say no to Trump and say yes to Naftali Bennett and other hard core hawks in his cabinet, but they too, will come to play the game. If not for other reasons, then for the fact, that they know what is the alternative, which is losing power in Israel and also be roundly defeated in the great battle over the Land of Israel.
Trump holds another card in his pocket, which is to make good on his promise and move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a greatly symbolic gesture which will intoxicate most Israeli Right Wingers. So, Trump, much more than Obama, will hold a big sway over Netanyahu. Paradoxically enough, he will hold even a bigger sway over the Palestinians. Very quickly, they will realize, that Obama could give them statements, speeches and promises, but Trump may be the one to deliver. Trump will be in a good position to extract concessions from them, exactly because he will be able to extract concessions from the Israelis, while the Obama policy requires them to make zero concessions. They can and may very well refuse any concessions, as they usually do, so then, they can resort to violence , which will not achieve anything for them, and may finally pit Trump on the side of Netanyahu, and then without asking him to make concessions. If this is the scenario to unfold, then the Palestinians will lose also Russia,and here is where Trump may hold his winning card.

He and Putin seem bent on improving the bilateral relations, and if the pre-election honeymoon is an indication of the shape of things to come, then this improvement can happen sooner than later, and a master deal involving Israel, the Palestinians, Syria and Iran is not to be ruled out. A deal like that will NOT, by definition, be a zero sum game. Both Israelis and Palestinians will have to swallow bitter pills, and in the case of the former, it will also have to do with a Syrian arrangement, which will not be ideal for Israel, let alone the Palestinian arrangement, but will also have a dose of honey, as the inclusion of Iran can provide a real, genuine opportunity to credibly monitor the application of the Iran nuclear deal, as well as having Iran out of Syria.

The history of the Middle East is full of diplomatic masterstrokes which may turn out to be a tower of cards, and the above may very well be another one, but maybe not. Maybe contrary to even his own expectations, President Obama will have a positive legacy in the Middle East, as his mistakes and misdeeds will still open better options to achieve any positive outcome to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.