United Nations and Palestine: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

“For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.”

The weasel words on 9 February 2017 of the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, a Trump appointee.

On 23 December 2016, UN Security Council Resolution 2334 – adopted with 14 votes in favour and a US abstention – once again condemned Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Security Council reaffirmed that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are occupied territory and that Israeli settlements there “have no legal validity”. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own population to an occupied territory.

In 2003, the George W. Bush administration voted in favour of UNSCR 1515, endorsing the “Roadmap for Peace” and calling for a freeze on settlements, including “natural growth”. Settlements are not the only or even the main obstacle to peace, but they are the most evident tactic and the most difficult to reverse in Israel’s long-term war of attrition on Palestine.

In 1987, the Reagan administration abstained from voting and allowed the passage of UNSCR 605, reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention and including Jerusalem in the list of “Palestinian and Arab Territories, occupied by Israel since 1967”.

How the UN has been “unfairly biased” in the way it has supported moves towards resolving the Israel-Palestine situation is difficult to understand. Earlier resolutions:

  • called for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza (2009);
  • declared support for the Annapolis peace process and its commitment to the irreversibility of bilateral negotiations (2008);
  • called on Israel not to demolish homes in the Rafah refugee camp and expressed grave concern over the humanitarian situation in the Rafah area (2004);
  • stated the need for a two state solution and unanimously endorsed the Quartet’s Road Map (2003);
  • demanded an end to Israeli attacks in Ramallah and urged the Palestinian Authority to bring to justice all those responsible for terrorist attacks against civilians (2002);
  • called upon Israel, as occupying Power, to implement measures, including confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied territories (1994);
  • deploring Israeli settlement policy in the occupied territories and reiterated that the settlements have no legal validity (1980);
  • declared that settlements in occupied territories have no legal validity and the legal status of Jerusalem cannot be validly altered unilaterally (1979).

Nothing intrinsically unfair there. And, while Security Council resolutions are supposed to be binding upon UN member states, in recent decades Israel has violated approximately 28 of them. It’s also worth recalling, as a Congressional Research Service report dated 16 December 2016 makes clear:

“Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $127.4 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance…

…on September 14, 2016, representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid covering 2019 to 2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid… to Israel. This new MOU will replace the current $30 billion 10-year agreement, which runs through 2018.”

And as if that were not enough:

“In December 2016, Congress passed other legislation to assist and cooperate with Israel… the expansion of an existing joint research-and-development program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to include cybersecurity technologies… [and] further U.S. cooperation with Israel in desalination and the development of new water technologies.”

Not exactly actions biased against Israel. But that’s the Trump administration’s ploy: spew out enough alternative facts, alternative news, and even alternative lies, and people will unthinkingly believe what they see, hear, and read.

Fortunately, there are those in public journalism who still care enough not just to set the record straight, but to challenge every twisted factoid and to examine every mistaken step. In the face of blatant propaganda, it’s an unending battle, but all of the people cannot be fooled all of the time.



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