He is trying to leave as much wreckage as possible before he exits the White House.
The resolution reflects an international consensus that the growth of Israeli settlement-building has come to threaten the viability of a Palestinian state in any future peace deal.
It is a view strongly shared by the Obama administration, and for that reason the US reversed its policy of vetoing any UN Security Council criticism of Israel.
It is a decision that was taken after months of debate within the administration about whether and how President Obama might be able to define his position on a two-state solution before leaving office.
But his successor Donald Trump has made clear he intends to strongly support Israeli government positions, even making a highly unorthodox intervention before the vote by publicly urging Mr Obama to veto the resolution.