The recent Arab League Summit in Jordan concluded with the issuance of the “Amman Declaration,” which as its centerpiece called for the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334.
Do the numbers 2334 sound familiar? For supporters of Israel, they certainly do—and the associations aren’t fond ones. The Security Council resolution, passed last December, declared Israeli communities situated beyond the 1967 lines to be in violation of international law, while deeming eastern Jerusalem’s Jewish holy sites as “occupied Palestinian territory.” By refusing to veto the measure, the Obama administration broke with the longstanding U.S. policy of defending Israel against one-sided U.N. resolutions.
This ill-gotten resolution, whose passage would not have been possible without the Obama administration’s connivance, would have been a highly effective weapon against Israel had it fallen into the wrong hands. Using this resolution as political cover, Israel’s enemies could have extorted the Jewish state to take scores of unsavory steps on both the diplomacy and security fronts.
In the course of engineering this treacherous diplomatic bear trap, the international community’s working assumption was likely that nobody quite like the nascent Trump administration’s fearless U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, would ever have introduced herself to the U.N. Haley has brought with her unfiltered condemnation of the world body’s unrelenting anti-Israel bias. With Haley’s arrival, it’s clear that the use of Resolution 2334 as a diplomatic weapon has been put on ice. In essence, the resolution has lost its mojo.
But the Arab League, judging by the Amman Declaration, clearly hasn’t gotten the message.
With the rapid deflation of American influence in the Middle East as well as the steady advancement of Russian and Iranian interests, getting back in the game is America’s top priority. President Donald Trump’s decision to strike Syria in response to the Bashar al-Assad regime’s chemical attack against civilians represents a good start—a display of American strength, resolve and values. But the work is far from done before America becomes great again in the region.
Those members of the Arab League whose regimes have not yet been toppled are well aware that they sit squarely and nakedly in the sights of radical Islamists. During the last five years, Muslim on Muslim violence by or onslaught—in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—has left an incomparable trail of heinous barbarities and displacement. The astounding force of a potentially nuclear Iran and of Sunni Islamist influence remains unchecked, calling into question the future status of these Arab fiefdoms as platforms for regional security. Israel, which will not be penetrated by Islamist influence, will remain America’s only reliable technological partner and landing pad in the region.
Though sitting benignly within the Arab League’s coffers, the symbolic presentation of Resolution 2334 as a calling card does not, at this time, work in America’s best interests. Outside the Middle East, the U.S. has allies who will need to be re-educated about how the last thing Sunni sovereigns in the region can afford right now is a failed Palestinian state. It is well-documented that when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the neighborhood did not get better. Couple that with the Palestinian Authority’s self-serving kleptocracy, and only a fool would gamble on the Palestinians’ ability to keep a state out of radical Islamists’ hands.
Yet by promoting Resolution 2334 in Jordan, the Arab League has made of America’s task—downplaying the Palestinian narrative—that much more difficult. The sad and only plausible reason for this counterproductive blooper is that the Arab League, despite Ambassador Haley’s dazzling disruption of U.N. protocol, does not see the possibility that America will rise to reclaim its global position of influence. Instead, hedging its bets, the Arab League has pandered to the outworn myth of the “Arab street,” a narrative that supposedly has Palestinian interests at heart.
Could it be that America’s unbelievably inept judgment on the issue of curbing Iran’s nuclear capabilities, which has left all Sunni nations vulnerable to potential destruction, has struck an indelible loss of confidence? Or is it the fact that even the Arab governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates know enough to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, but the U.S. does not?
The sad conclusion that explains the Arab League’s faux pas on the anti-Israel Resolution 2334 is that the move has less to do with the regional organization’s perception of its own powerlessness, and more to do with the Arabs’ loss of trust in America’s judgment.
Andrew Lappin is a Chicago-based redeveloper and contributor to the Haym Salomon Center, a news and public policy group. Lappin serves on the board of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.