TEL AVIV — Forget the Palestinian refusal to come to the bargaining table. President Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies of allowing Jews to build in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem for the decision by the U.S. to abstain from yesterday’s vote on an anti-Israel United Nations Security Council resolution.
The resolution called for a halt to Israeli construction in the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, and the text referred to those lands as “Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.”
“Netanyahu had the opportunity to pursue policies that would have led to a different outcome today,” Rhodes told reporters on a conference call on Friday, after the U.S. abstained thereby allowing the measure to pass.
“In the absence of any meaningful peace process, as well as in the accelerated settlement activity,” Rhodes said, “we took the decision that we did today to abstain on the resolution.”
“Absent this acceleration of settlement activity, absent the type of rhetoric we’ve seen out of the current Israeli government, I think the United States likely would have taken a different view,” he stated.
The Times of Israel has more on Rhodes’ statements during the conference call:
Rhodes also cited the head of the nationalist Jewish Home party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, claiming “the era of the two-state solution is over” following President-elect Donald Trump’s upset victory last month over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
…Rhodes also cited past presidents who have abstained from UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel and said that, up until this point, Obama was the first in decades not to allow a single resolution through during his time in office.
The reason for the change now, he said, was that the administration “exhausted every effort to pursue a two-state solution through negotiations,” alluding to the 2013-2014 push by US Secretary of State John Kerry to reach a final-status agreement in a nine-month time frame, as well as other efforts since 2009.
While Rhodes recognized “the Palestinians have missed plenty of opportunities under this administration, as well,” the crux of his argument seemed to be that the Israeli government’s pro-settlement policies were mostly to blame for the U.S. abstention.
Israel has offered the Palestinians a state in much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip with a shared capital in Jerusalem numerous times. These offers were made at Camp David in 2000, Taba in 2001, the Annapolis Conference in 2007, and more offers were made in 2008. In each of these cases, the PA refused generous Israeli offers of statehood and bolted negotiations without counteroffers.
The PA has failed to respond to Netanyahu’s unprecedented attempts to jump-start negotiations aimed at creating a Palestinian state, including freezing Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem and releasing Palestinian prisoners.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.