Pete McCloskey
The San Francisco Chronicle (Editorial)
February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

One of the great disappointments of the Obama presidency came from the White House instructing our representative to the United Nations to veto the Security Council resolution Friday that would have condemned Israel's West Bank settlements as illegal.

Those settlements have been condemned by every U.S. president, Democrat and Republican, since Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 War. The settlements are recognized as illegal under the Geneva Conventions, which the United States took the lead in creating and signing.

Worse, the settlements remain a continuing insult to Arabs and Muslims, and their governments, who might otherwise be friendly to America. Since 9/11, the settlements have represented perhaps the major incentive to suicide bombers and fueled hatred of Americans throughout much of the world.

Many of our most thoughtful Jewish leaders have recognized that until the West Bank settlements are abolished, there is no chance for a safe and secure Israel. This is why the U.S. decision to veto the resolution, which was sponsored by 122 nations and approved by the 14 other members of the Security Council, comes as such a shock. President Obama himself said in his famous Cairo speech on June 9, 2009: "The settlements must stop." His statement was clear and unequivocal. He could not have made that speech without prior discussions with America's Jewish leaders. It showed courage, as well as an understanding that our primary enemies in the world today are Muslim terrorists.

That the president's courage has evaporated is sad indeed. U.S. support of the Geneva Conventions, of U.N. Security Resolution 242 (the foundation of the call for negotiating a two-state solution to end Arab-Israeli hostilities), and perhaps most of all, of the continuing search for world peace through international law, could be crucial in saving lives in the future.

History will ultimately measure President Obama by his leadership and courage. His change of position on the West Bank settlements has shown cowardice and the influence of political expediency in an election year. It virtually ensures the continuing hatred of much of the world. Americans, both military and civilian, will die because of it.

Pete McCloskey, a Republican, represented the Peninsula in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1967 to 1983.


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