The United States has chosen to abstain from a UN Security Council resolution condemning the building of Israeli settlements in Eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, causing the measure to pass by 14 votes with the single American abstention. The move is seen as President Barack Obama extending the middle finger to Israel in general, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, and President Election Donald Trump, who has signaled that he intends a friendlier stance toward the Jewish state.

While American foreign policy has opposed the building of Jewish settlements built on territory claimed by the Palestinians, it has also resisted attempts to impose an agreement, believing that a settlement should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. The change in this approach is as startling as it is puzzling.

To be sure, President Obama, known to take an imperious attitude when it comes to imposing his will, has been irritated with Israel and Netanyahu for most of his presidency, even going to so far as to treat him with astonishing disrespect during a White House visit.

Obama operatives intervened in the most recent Israeli election (ironic when one notes the yelping about Russia’s alleged role in the defeat of Hillary Clinton) in an attempt to replace Netanyahu with a more pliable leader. The attempt failed and the Obama administration wound up with an international embarrassment.

The change in policy does not make any sense from a diplomatic perspective. Obama will be out of office in less than a month.

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Donald Trump

Trump, who has appointed a fervently pro-Israel ambassador to the Jewish state and is apparently in earnest about moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, is not likely to take a very aggressive stance about Jewish settlements. Netanyahu will stiffen his spine and will have plenty of support from the new president. The prospect of any peace with the Palestinians based on compromise is now null and void.

Barack Obama has ordered this change in policy in a fit of pique, allowing his emotions to override his reason and therefore making matters worse from his perspective. It is, therefore, fortunate that his presidency has just weeks to run and that his capability to do harm will soon be over.

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