October 18, 2018

United Nations Security Council adopts anti-Israeli settlement agreement [UPDATED]

UPDATE DEC. 27 10:18 P.M.

Echoing a variety of pro-Israel organizations, Congressman Ted Lieu (D) has expressed strong opposition to United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2334, which condemns Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

“Today, the United Nations Security Council has again failed to live up to its name,” Lieu said in a Dec. 23 statement, which can be viewed “>UNSC Resolution 2334 describes Israel as an “occupying Power” and “settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem” as a “flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

The United States, a permanent member of the UNSC, abstained from voting, thereby letting the resolution pass.

This is not the first time Lieu has held a position also held by the current Israeli government. He spoke in opposition to the Iranian nuclear agreement, which lifted sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program, thus sharing a view held by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an opponent to the agreement.

UPDATE DEC. 26 5:42 P.M.

Michael Baror, Israel’s deputy ambassador to Kenya, does not think the U.N. resolution, passed this past Friday and critical of Israeli settlements, will help promote peace in the region.

“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the resolution will not promote peace or peace negotiations in any way,” Baror said in an email. “Knowing that, it leaves a big question mark as to what is the real purpose of the resolution.”

Jewish community organizations, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Israeli-American Council and StandWithUs, echoed Baror and criticized the United States’ move on Friday to abstain from voting on, thereby letting pass, the U.N. Security Council resolution, which condemns Israeli settlements.

“Jewish Federations across North America are deeply disappointed that the United States abstained from today’s vote on the one-sided, anti-Israel resolution that was passed by the UN Security Council today,” a Dec. 23 Jewish Federations of North America statement says.

“The Israeli-American Council is troubled and deeply disappointed by the U.S. President’s decision to abstain from voting on an anti-Israel resolution in the UN Security Council today,” a Dec. 23 statement by the IAC, an umbrella organization for Israeli-Americans, says.

“While both sides in this conflict are subject to criticism, placing most of the blame on Israel while shielding Palestinian leaders from accountability is not a path to peace or justice for either side,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a Dec. 23 statement.

In the wake of the vote, which was held last Friday, Israel summoned its ambassadors from countries involved in the vote, including the United States, Senegal and New Zealand.

On Dec. 23, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted 14-0 in favor of a resolution that condemns Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories.

The United States, despite pressure from pro-Israel groups as well as the Israeli government to veto the resolution, abstained from voting, thus allowing the resolution to move forward.

Denouncing the expansion of Israeli settlements in recent years and the refusal of the Israeli government to heed the warnings that the expansion of settlements would lead to political consequences, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the U.S. decision not to veto the “resolution reflected the facts on the ground and is consistent with U.S. policy throughout history.”

“Some may cast this as a sign we have given up on the two-state solution,” Power said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

UNSC members voting in favor of the resolution introduced by UNSC member Egypt included United Kingdom, Malaysia and Angola. Pro-Israel groups have described the resolution as being anti-Israel, but representatives of UNSC members voting in favor said their vote served Israel’s security and demographic interests.

Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, doesn’t see it that way. On Friday, following the passage of the resolution, which condemns Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, he reiterated that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and denounced the resolution  as “evil.”

“Who gave you the right to issue such a decree denying our eternal rights in Jerusalem? Would this council have the nerve to condemn your country from building homes in your capital? Would you ban the French from building in Paris, would you ban the Russians from building in Moscow, Chinese from Beijing…Americans from building in Washington? We overcame those decrees during the time of the Maccabees,” he said, referencing the upcoming holiday of Chanukah, “and we will overcome this evil decree today.”

“By voting no in favor of this resolution you have in fact voted no to negotiations, progress and a chance for peace,” Danon added.

Riyad Mansour, permanent observer of Palestine to the United Nations, welcomed the vote.  He said the adopted resolution served the interest of peace for Palestinians, Israel, the Middle East and the entire world.

The vote had been initially set for Thursday until President-Elect Donald Trump, who many believe will have warmer relations with the Israeli government than President Obama has had, spoke with Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about delaying the vote.

Egypt was the initial author of the resolutions. Its co-sponsors were Malaysia, Venezuela, Senegal and New Zealand. Its passage was met with applause in the New York City headquarters of the UNSC.

Trump, shortly following the vote, tweeted, “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” referring to his inauguration date.

Trump has come under fire by some in the left-leaning community for his nomination David Friedman, a right-leaning bankruptcy attorney, as the United States Ambassador to Israel.

During remarks, Power, for her part, sought to dispel the notion that Obama has had anything but a steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, citing a recent memorandum of understanding signed between Israel and the United States that ensures the United States will provide more than $30 billion in military assistance to Israel. She called the cooperation “unprecedented,” adding, “we believe, though, continue settlement building undermines Israel’s security.”

The resolution approved today addresses land gains Israel achieved following its 1967 war with its Arab neighbors. It condemns “all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestine Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.”

One by one on Friday, representatives of UNSC member states – the UNSC has 15 members, including five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members – welcomed the passage of the resolution as serving Israel’s interest as much as the Palestinian’s. Malaysia’s UN representative described the vote as a victory for the people of Israel who believe in peace and security with its Palestinian and Arab neighbors. The United Kingdom’s U.N. representative, reminding his audience that it was the British that issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917 in support of a Jewish homeland, said the U.K. voted in favor of the resolution due to its commitment to Israel’s security.

Meanwhile, Power acknowledged that the United Nations has exhibited a bias against Israel throughout history. She said atrocities in places like Syria and Sudan go ignored while Israel is singled out for settlement expansion.

“The U.S. does not agree with every word of this text,” she said, referring to the resolution approved today.