A Biased United Nations Vote Cannot Hasten Peace
The Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC strongly opposes the United Nations Security Council resolution unanimously passed last month regarding Israel’s settlement policy and is deeply disappointed that the United States delegation did not use its veto to block it.
This U.S. abstention was an abandonment of the Obama administration’s previously consistent diplomatic support and commitment to Israel. The final act of the administration appears to be a significant undermining of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
The resolution is one-sided, almost solely singling out Israel for condemnation, and erroneously lays the blame for the present impasse in the peace process on Israeli settlements rather than on Palestinian refusal to come to the negotiating table.
Even more disturbing is that this resolution declares opposition to building in east Jerusalem, equating it with Israeli construction anywhere in the West Bank, and denies Israel’s claims in the eastern part of the city including the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter, and neighborhoods containing tens of thousands of Jewish residents.
Perhaps the most damaging aspect of this misguided resolution is that it has been interpreted as a Palestinian diplomatic victory, making that party even less likely to resume direct negotiations with Israel.
This action leads to several troubling questions. Where is the call for direct negotiations between the parties? Why haven’t the Arab states pushed the Palestinians back to the table? Where is the development of a civil society and democratic institutions in the Palestinian Authority? As a result, the resolution blocks rather than promotes progress toward peace.
Through this resolution, the U.N. continues its long-standing, one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, clearly expressing bias toward Israel. The U.N. continues to pass one-sided resolutions that single out and condemn the Jewish State.
Additionally, an overwhelmingly powerful bloc led by the Arab nations promotes a narrow agenda meant to isolate Israel that has met little resistance. Some of those countries hold seats on the U.N. Human Rights Council or even the Security Council.
Despite being the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel routinely faces more criticism and condemnation at the United Nations than any other country, including those that systematically kill their citizens or deny them the most basic of human rights. The U.N. does little to stop mass civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq, and looks away at the slide toward genocide in southern Sudan. Instead, it chooses to focus almost exclusively in crafting biased resolutions against Israel.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, stepping down this week, has admitted to the bias. Speaking to the U.N. Security Council, he expressed his opinion that the U.N. has had a “disproportionate focus on Israel” that has “foiled the ability of the U.N. to fulfill its role effectively.”
The Secretary-General explained that “decades of political maneuvering have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel.” It’s refreshing to hear such an honest perspective but far too little, too late as he leaves the post.
Anti-Israel bias is not restricted to the GA and Security Council. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution in October 2016 that includes language ignoring Jewish ties to many holy sites throughout Israel including the Temple Mount and the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The resolution passed overwhelmingly.
The Temple Mount, or al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam, was referred to in the resolution solely by its Muslim/Arabic names (al-Aqsa or al-Haram al-Sharif) and not once by the site’s Jewish/Israeli name. Thirty lawmakers from the United States, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, and others expressed their disapproval of the resolution.
JCRC/AJC continues to support a two-state solution and a peaceful resolution reached through direct negotiations between the two parties. Unfortunately, anti-Israel actions perpetrated at the U.N., like the recent resolution at the U.N. Security Council, significantly undermine earnest efforts toward a negotiated settlement.
Dr. Richard Krugel is president of the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC. He resides in Bloomfield Hills