January 01, 2017
Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton Sunday trashed the Obama administration’s decision to allow passage of a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction, saying it was a bad idea designed to hurt his successor and warning there may be more where that came from. Bolton said the decision must be fought aggressively.
Abstaining from last month’s vote meant Obama, in his final 30 days in office, ushered in a drastic shift in U.S. foreign policy that contradicts the policy views of his successor, Republican Donald Trump. That move, Bolton said, “was vindictive.”
“This is intended to try and box [Trump] in,” Bolton said on John Catsimatidis’ radio show “The Cats Roundtable” on 970 AM in New York, before expressing his concern that Obama and the U.N. aren’t finished just yet.
“I’m just worried that more is coming as well but this resolution itself is bad enough,” Bolton said.
Though Obama leaves office in a few weeks, he has repeatedly indicated plans to remain an active source of resistance to any drastic reversals to the “progress” he made during his eight years in the White House.
“I promise you that next year Michelle and I are going to be right there with you, and the clouds are going to start parting and the sun is going to come back out, and we’re going to be busy, involved in the amazing stuff that we’ve been doing all these years before,” Obama assured his supporters in late November.
Bolton indicated that efforts to undo what he sees as the damage done by Obama must be aggressive and far-reaching.
Bolton said Sunday that the Trump administration will have the opportunity to get the U.N. resolution repealed and pass something that is acceptable. He also pointed to Congress, where Republicans like Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham have put in motion an effort to cut U.S. funds to the U.N. to protest the Israeli settlements vote.
“I’d go further,” Bolton said. “I’d shift all U.S. contributions to being purely voluntary, not to have a tax on the U.S. … We ought to take other steps against those countries to show how unhappy we are.”
Internationally, Obama sees a world community that favors his accomplishments. “Almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago,” Obama said during his final address of 2016.
Whether that’s true or not, Bolton indicated the public here in the United States doesn’t like Obama’s U.N. move, and there are signs he is right and Americans may be supportive of an effort to undo it.
On the Israel settlements, a November poll from the Brookings Institution found that more than half of Americans opposed any punitive actions from the U.S. beyond rhetoric. While Brookings notes that support for economic sanctions had risen 9 percent overall, 52 percent of Americans said that they “supported the U.S. doing nothing or limiting opposition to words.”
What’s more, the public just rejected the presidential bid of Obama’s former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who has weighed in against the settlements.
Clinton said in 2014 that settlement building sends a “terrible signal to send if at the same time you claim you’re looking for a two-state solution.” While on the campaign trail in April, she said she aligns herself with politicians who believe “settlement expansion is not helpful.”
For his part, Trump said during the campaign that he would be interested in being a “neutral guy” in advancing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
But after the U.N. vote, Trump took a strong pro-Israel stance and expressed his dissatisfaction with the U.N., which he called “a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”
“Things will be different after Jan. 20th,” Trump vowed on Twitter.
Just what Trump will do remains unclear, but a hint can be gleaned from pick to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is a supporter of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and has dismissed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as an “illusion.”