Trump's Fight With The UN Is Not A Great Sign

by Lani Seelinger

It's becoming quite a pattern for President-elect Donald Trump to break with the Obama administration before he's even gotten the keys to the White House. Trump's latest fight with the United Nations over the issue of Israel is an especially telling example of this, and it doesn't bode well for how the next president will handle diplomatic issues.

Trump initially took umbrage when the UN voted to condemn Israel over its support for the West Bank settlements, and he vented this frustration on Twitter, calling the international organization a "club for people to get together, talk and have a good time." He had wanted the United States to veto this move by the UN, and both Barack Obama and the UN drew his ire when Obama instructed the American ambassador to abstain from the vote.

In later tweets, Trump reaffirmed his support for Israel over the UN, revealing either an extremely high level of ignorance as to what the UN actually does or a willingness to side with Israel despite risking what could be very far-reaching consequences.

Republicans have wanted to withdraw American support from the UN for a long time, but their efforts have generally either been blocked or reversed. The diplomatic efforts of the organization, which Trump seems to be overly focused on, are only a small part of what it does and what the U.S. helps to support. If the U.S. withdrew its support from the UN, both monetary and otherwise, it would also be withdrawing support from all of the various UN agencies, like the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Civilian Aviation Organization. If you like having an international system of air traffic control, then you want to support the UN.

As for this specific issue, the UN Security Council voted to condemn Israel because of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. Both the UN and the Obama administration are worried that the presence and potential expansion of the settlements endangers the viability of a two-state solution, which is how the condemnation came about. Israel, however, along with a number of staunchly pro-Israel congresspeople from the United States, is now claiming that the U.S. has "failed to protect" them and is instead siding with Palestinians.

The UN's motive, of course, has nothing to do with holding Palestine over Israel or vice versa, but instead with holding the hope of peace above everything else. As Secretary of State John Kerry made clear, the two-state solution is what both the current American administration and the UN see as the only option for peace across the region. Trump's decision to side with Israel and disregard this attempt for long-lasting and durable peace creates a dangerous precedent for what diplomacy in his administration might look like.

Sure, Trump has proven to be a friend to Israel, but no one wants to withdraw support for the Jewish state entirely. This UN vote was taken in Israel's own better interest, even if Israel won't recognize that — a better relationship with the Palestinians and with its Arab neighbors should be everyone's ultimate goal. Trump, apparently, doesn't see it that way — and this is yet another thing that should put the world on guard.