A defiant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu observed the second night of the Jewish holiday of Chanukah on Sunday evening by lighting the candles at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest existing site.
The Western Wall is now officially an illegal “settlement,” according to an anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution passed last Friday with the acquiescence of the Obama administration, which abstained instead of exercising its traditional veto. That is because the Wall is in the Old City of Jerusalem, which Jews have inhabited for thousands of years but which was under Jordanian control from 1948 to 1967 after Arab soldiers ousted the population of the Jewish Quarter and destroyed much of it.
Netanyahu said (via the Prime Minister’s Office):
I did not plan to be here this evening but in light of the UN resolution I thought that there was no better place to light the second Chanukah candle than the Western Wall. According to the UN resolution, the Maccabees did not liberate Jerusalem, they occupied Palestinian territory. According to the UN resolution, the villages that they started out from in the Modi’in area, those villages and that area were ‘occupied Palestinian territory’.
Of course the Palestinians arrived much later. We were in these places. We will return to these places and I ask those same countries that wish us a Happy Chanukah how they could vote for a UN resolution which says that this place, in which we are now celebrating Chanukah, is occupied territory.
The Western Wall is not occupied. The Jewish Quarter is not occupied. The other places are not occupied either. Therefore, we do not accept, nor can we accept, this resolution. We are certain of our future just as we are certain of our past. And here I would like to light Chanukah candles on behalf of the Glory of Israel. Happy Chanukah.
The resolution, UN Security Council Resolution 2334, rejects 50 years of precedent, in that it considers all the territory conquered by Israel in a defensive war in 1967 to be not only occupied, but illegal. UN Security Council Resolution 242 deliberately left open the possibility that Israel would retain some territory and the final borders would be negotiated.
As Omri Ceren pointed out Sunday on Twitter, U.S. diplomacy has assumed for decades that the final status of the West Bank would be decided bilaterally, between Israeli and the Palestinians. Previous U.S. administrations made security guarantees to Israel on that basis, which the Obama administration has now reneged upon, making future Israeli concessions impossible.
The resolution has also likely emboldened Palestinians not to negotiate for peace, but to seek to isolate Israel internationally.
Chanukah celebrates the successful revolt of the Jewish Maccabees against Seleucid rule in 165 B.C. When Jerusalem was liberated the Maccabees only found enough oil in the Holy Temple to light the menorah for one day, but it lasted for eight.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.