What made the UN vote particularly troubling for Israel was that, for the first time in many years, the US declined to veto a Security Council resolution opposed by Israel. The US abstention raised concern that US diplomatic support for the country may be weakening, as Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in as US president.Usually the way things go in the Security Council is a mildly-worded draft resolution calling on everyone to knock shit off comes to the floor, the US vetoes it, nothing happens, the end. General Assembly resolutions regarding Israel are even more exciting, with votes usually hovering somewhere around everyone-2, or sometimes 4, depending on whether the delegates from Micronesia and Palau managed to paddle across the Pacific that week. So really, in diplomatese, the refusal of the US to veto the ceasefire resolution is kind of a big deal.
Dan Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, said on Friday: “This is a disappointing resolution. The most disappointing aspect is the American abstention, something we haven’t seen in a long time and I hope doesn’t indicate anything about the future.”
The US’s (in)action is most likely borne of the obvious realization that Israel finds itself precisely in the no-win situation even its sympathizers warned of. Israel cant plausibly eliminate Hamas’ capacity to launch rockets into Israel without either destroying Hamas completely, or reoccupying the Gaza, which it knew going in. Even in the unlikely event it successfully does either of these, there is no reason to believe it will make the country any safer in the long run--quite the opposite, in fact. But such is the perpetual short-termism of Israeli politics that a new ceasefire seems unlikely without actual, tangible US pressure, since the US has long since exhausted any influence it had over Hamas.
For Israel, to the extent there was a public relations war to win, it has lost it, when it started, you know, killing the public. The horribly one-sided casualty figures run the risk of radicalizing another generation of Palestinians beyond repproach, to the detriment of Israel's security. But with elections coming up, the government has no incentive to support a ceasefire since since whoever does immediately looks like a pussy and will probably lose.
So it's time for the US to give Israel an excuse to support a ceasefire, preferably with a little more than a Security Council abstention.
Update: Haha, or not.