I saw this op-ed in VZGLIAD written by reporter Andrei Grafov. It is a current story about the wheelings and dealings in the UN, and indicates how the Ukrainian government simply has no clue what it is doing on the international stage. The title of the article is:
Obama Has Driven A Wedge Between Ukraine and Israel
The backdrop, of course, is the Saturday (12/24) vote in the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlement construction in traditionally Arab areas such as East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Here is the CNN version to give the basic backstory from an English-language source.
The circus show in the UN is the usual ritual pageant which has been going on for years and decades: An Arab nation, in this case Egypt, proposes a resolution condemning Israeli apartheid and/or settlements. The United States then employs its right of veto to make sure the resolution never gets voted on. This is a ritual game understood by all.
But something different happened this past Saturday. Let’s call it a “Christmas Eve” miracle. Maybe Obama was visited in the middle of the night by three Palestinian ghosts showing him how horrible their life has been under Israeli occupation. The result: Obama “broke custom” by not blocking the resolution. Instead, the Lame Duck In Chief allowed the Egyptian resolution to be tabled and voted on. The anti-Israel resolution passed. Of the 15 nations voting that day in the UN Security Council, 14 voted “yay” and one (=America) abstained. Reaction in Israeli public opinion: Hell hath no fury. The Israeli people were betrayed, in the most shameless manner possible, by the Americans. Normally the U.S. has Israel’s back on everything. Some people see Obama’s move as a little “slap in the face” to his good friend Israel on his way out of office.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was so angry with Obama that his pasty face probably turned red like a rare beefsteak on the Christmas table. He probably had to hold back the urge to just smack that smirk off Barack’s face. But all is not lost. Incoming President Trump is ferociously pro-Israel, he promises the Israelis that “everything will change after January 20”, which no doubt solaces their hurt feelings (and sore back, from what they see as the knife jab). In other words, all that Netanyahu has to do is wait a couple of weeks, and then he’ll be back on top of his little asteroid. The Little Jewish Prince, under the paternalistic wing of Uncle Sam.
But the VZGLIAD story is not really about the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. That’s the main 3-ring circus, of course, but off to the side there is a smaller tent with an even more freakish show going on. We’re talking about the Ukraine, of course.
Ukraine Votes Its Conscience? Ha ha ha ha ha
The oddest thing of all about the UN Resolution was that the nation of Ukraine, which was one of the 15 countries in the UN Security Council on that fateful day, voted FOR the resolution. In other words, voted to condemn illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land! This is shocking! Netanyahu was so ticked off at Ukraine that he immediately cancelled the planned visit to Israel of Ukraine’s Prime Minister, the very Jewish businessman Mr. Volodymyr Hroisman. Hroisman probably went “Why me?” but it was too late by then. His trip to the Promised Land was over before it even began.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz felt particularly betrayed, because, according to this, they regarded Hroisman as their own man: The first Jewish Prime Minister of Ukraine, ever. They even claim that Hroisman has family in the Israeli city of Ashdod. He is one of them! But look what this traitor did to them!
The true mystery is why the Ukrainian delegation voted as it did, especially since their vote had absolutely no effect on the outcome, and they knew that. They must know that there is little reason to suck up to an outgoing lame-duck President, and every reason to suck up to the incoming healthy-duck one.
Grafov calls the Ukrainian conduct “absurd”. I don’t think anyone out there believes that Ukraine was simply voting their conscience. No, there has to be some other reason why Ukraine would ruin relations with the new American administration and its client state of Israel.
Here is one theory, offered by Israeli Minister of Ecology Ze’ev Elkin. Elkin is a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, but he was actually born in Kharkov (1971). He grew up in the Ukraine until the age of 19, when he emigrated to Israel. Hence, he is familiar with the country of his birth, and its political scene. Recently Elkin arrived in Ukraine on a private visit, and it sounds like was interviewed by the author of the piece I am summarizing. Quite a scoop too! According to Elkin, the Ukrainians wanted to follow the American lead and abstain from the vote in the Security Council. However, at the 11th hour Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko received a phone call from U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Biden supposedly asked Poroshenko to instruct the Ukrainian delegation to vote for the resolution. And the Ukrainians obeyed their master, like they always do. If this story is true, then it explains why the Ukrainians did what they did; but still begs the question, what “clever game” the Americans thought they were trying to play?
Grafov speculates that Obama is playing the disgruntled-employee game of “leaving a mess behind” before he leaves. A kind of slash and burn approach to make Trump’s job that much harder when the new President walks into the White House. Trump will thus face complications in the new relationships he has to form, not only with Israel, but also with Russia.
And speaking of Russia, an interesting sidebar to all of this, is that Netanyahu did not even react to Russia’s support of the anti-Israeli resolution. Not a word of criticism. Since Soviet times, Moscow always votes pro-Palestinian, and that is just a given. Russia has its own legitimate relations with Arab states and with Iran; and those relations demand a pro-Palestinian stance. Israelis understand that, it’s just business as usual, and they don’t really hold a grudge against Russia. In fact, under Putin’s presidency, relations between Israel and Russia have never been better. Hence, the Russians get a pass on their vote. The Americans, on the other hand…. Now that was a real betrayal! And the Ukrainians?! That was the nip of the baby adder.