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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What is Obama planning for Israel in his final months?

With less than three months left in the White House, rumors abound that outgoing President Barack Obama could use his remaining time in office to push for a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

President Obama, who has long championed the cause of Palestinian statehood and made an ambitious effort towards a two-state solution early on in his presidency, raised the issue again during his United Nations address on September 20th, calling upon Israel to end “the occupation”.

"Israel must understand it can't permanently continue to build on Palestinian land,” Obama said.
With a relatively high approval rating – 52.5% according to the RealClearPolitics average - for a lame-duck president, due in part to this year’s rancorous presidential election, some suggest the president is ready to expend some that political capital in a last-minute push towards a two-state solution.

In August, senior US officials told the Wall Street Journal was considering a number of options for rebooting the stalled final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, including unprecedented moves like a United Nations Security Council resolution forcing the framework for a treaty upon the two parties.

On Monday the rumors of a “November surprise” continued, with the Wall Street Journal writing that sources inside the Obama administration had confirmed that the White House had requested an options menu from the State Department in pushing for a final status agreement.

Among the options being considered, the Wall Street Journal wrote, are a UN Security Council resolution – which unlike General Assembly resolutions are binding upon member states – against Israel and Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem.

President Obama may also choose to unilaterally recognize Palestinian statehood, or rescind the US veto on other anti-Israel resolutions at the Security Council.

Other possible moves being weighed include use of the IRS to strangle funding of tax-exempt groups with ties to Jewish communities over the Green Line.