THE BLOG
12/28/2016 11:02 am ET Updated Dec 28, 2017

The UN Resolution: Painful But Not Decisive For Israel

The American abstention on the United Nations resolution on the settlements issue is painful for Israel. More pain may yet be inflicted by President Obama including a UN resolution prescribing a final solution to the Palestinian problem and other such moves.

But, Israel today is not the Israel of the 1948 War of Independence or the Israel of the early traumatic days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Israel today has 10 times the population of 1948 and an economy 120 times bigger. It has developed major political, economic, high-tech, military and intelligence relationships with key countries around the world. Power counts in this world.

Until 1992 Israel did not have diplomatic relations with China or the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union supplied billions of dollars of weapons for the Arabs who fought Israel in 1967 and 1973. In 1969 during the War of Attrition Soviet and Israeli warplanes clashed over the Suez Canal. In 1974 the PLO established an embassy in Moscow and the next year the Soviet Union voted for the "Zionism is racism" resolution.

China under Mao Zedong supported the PLO and welcomed Yasir Arafat to Beijing. China supported the destruction of Israel and its replacement by a Palestinian state. In 1974 the PLO established an embassy in Beijing and voted in 1975 for the resolution on "Zionism is racism."

Today, the situation is different. China established and Russia re-established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Sino-Israeli trade, 50 million dollars in 1992, is moving towards 11 billion dollars this year with talks on a free trade zone. Israel is the second greatest provider of military goods to China. Chinese companies are planning to spend billions of dollars on acquiring Israeli companies.

Russian-Israeli trade hovers at 3 billion dollars yearly. Putin has visited Israel twice and Netanyahu has met Putin four times in under two years. Bibi talks to Putin frequently by phone. Israel exports drones to Russia and coordinates their moves in Syria to avoid a firefight. Fully 600,000 Russians without visas visit Israel yearly and Israeli hi-tech works with Russians at their Skolkovo base in the suburbs of Moscow.

As for the United States, President-elect Trump, in addition to listening to his family (Ivanka and Jared Kushner), has appointed an Ambassador to Israel (David Friedman), adviser on Israel (Jason Greenblatt) and national security adviser (General Flynn), all pro-Israel. Trump urged Obama to veto the UN resolution and said that after January 20th "things will be different."

England has had an up and down relationship with Israel. In 1917 it issued the Balfour Declaration but in 1939 switched to supporting an Arab Palestine. In May, 1948 England handed over weapons and territory mainly to the Arabs when it left Palestine and sold weapons to Jordan and Iraq. But, in 1956 it joined in the Sinai Campaign. More recently, while maintaining relations with Israel, it has not been close to its former colony.

With Brexit and the ascension of Prime Minister Theresa May, things may be changing. Ten days ago she denounced BDS and lauded Israel as a "thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance, an engine of enterprise and an example to the rest of the world for overcoming adversity and defying disadvantages."

There is France which supported the creation of Israel, joined Israel in the 1956 Sinai Campaign, provided badly needed jet fighters and aided Israel's nuclear program from 1956 to 1967. Charles de Gaulle moved France away from Israel but in recent years France became more sympathetic to Israel. A leading candidate for French Presidency next year is Francois Fillon, generally considered pro-Israel, as is Marine le Pen of the National Front.

There is Germany which during World War II carried out the Holocaust. Now, Prime Minister Angela Merkel has been pro-Israel, sold Israel several nuclear capable Dolphin class submarines at a discounted price and opposes isolating Israel.

Other nations also have become friendly. Sunni Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia are quietly working with Israel for fear of a nuclear Iran. India, which recognized Israel in 1992, now has 5 billion dollars in Israeli trade. Its Foreign Minister in January hailed Israel as a model for India. A recent poll showed that more Indians (58%) than Americans (56%) like Israel. Israel is the second largest provider of weapons and develops new weapons with India.

The Obama administration can inflict pain on Israel but Israel has developed relationships with a number of key nations that should limit the damage. The United States, under Donald Trump, will likely lead the charge.