op-ed

The consequence of US leadership failure at the UN

Rep. Peter Roskam Member of Congress (R-IL)

In the coming weeks, the United Nations Security Council is expected to take a series of misguided procedural steps towards allowing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to unilaterally declare independence (UDI). If that happens, it will mark a step backwards from any potentially genuine Middle East peace and illustrate yet another failure of the Obama administration’s “leading from behind” approach.

This did not have to be a foregone conclusion. This past May, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and I called on the administration to stand united with the American people, and with Israel, opposing this U.N. action. The State Department has heard a similar chorus in the months since.

Yet the administration refused to act for months — as Palestinians built U.N. support — finally pledging a “no” vote in September long after the die was cast. In fact, when the Security Council had its final open meeting prior to the UDI this past July, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice reportedly did not even attend. While the summation of this failure is embarrassing for America, it’s far more disappointing and consequential for our strong ally Israel. Our allies should not have to be saddled with the residual failures of America leading from behind.

The disappointing reality is the Palestinian leadership unilaterally declaring “statehood” at the U.N. is another clear step away from peace. Just months ago, Hamas — a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel — signed a reconciliation agreement paving the way to join the PA’s Unity Government.

Coupled with this U.N. ploy, the Palestinian leadership has made an unequivocal decision that its route to a potential state cannot include peace with Israel.

Nor will it include negotiations with Israel or a disavowal of and crackdown on terrorism or any official recognition of the Jewish state. In the latest American rebuke, Palestinian news agencies reported yesterday that Palestinian leadership is rejecting calls to come back to the negotiating table.

Far from facilitating peace or stability in the region, this UDI is designed to create a scenario where Israel is further demonized and ostracized in the court of world opinion. It’s transparently cynical, which makes it all the more disappointing it took the administration so long to finally publicly oppose it.

The American people and our allies deserve better. Once more we see the failure of leading from behind.

Rep. Peter Roskam is a member of the House Ways & Means Committee and the chief deputy whip.