Sitting in Judgment on Israel

The latest UN Security Council resolution is hardly proof of the 'world’s' support for anti-Israeli views.

Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, addresses the Council after the December 23, 2016, vote on Israeli settlements

Fifteen representatives of the world’s nations sat in judgment on Israel at the United Nations Security Council. Fourteen found Israel guilty of establishing illegal settlements and obstructing the peace process with the Palestinians. One, the United States, abstained.

Israeli proponents of the two-state solution and opponents of settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines feel vindicated that now the “world” shares their opinion. You might think that the member nations of the Security Council, like judges in court, reached their verdict after deliberating on all aspects of the case in question. But actually, as we know only too well, most, if not all, reached their decision based on considerations that have little to do with the issue under discussion.

Take four permanent members of the Council: China, Russia, France and Britain. The fifth, the U.S., is different from the others.

As for China, the second most powerful nation in the world, its interests span the world, it has close relations with the Arab world and Iran, and its decision on how to cast its vote probably has little, if anything, to do with Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. Other considerations far more important to China surely took precedence.

As for Putin’s Russia, having annexed the Crimea, involved in the fighting in the eastern Ukraine, after intervening in the fighting in Syria, and now forging an alliance with Iran and Turkey to dictate the outcome there, its decision on how to cast its vote probably had nothing to do with the two-state solution.

As for France, its vote was a foregone conclusion. Ever since De Gaulle’s embargo on arms sales to Israel on the eve of the Six-Day War it has conducted an undisguised pro-Arab policy and nurtured its relations with the Arab world. That may yet change after the coming elections there, but until then we know exactly what to expect from France when it comes to Israel.

The nave among us might have expected a different vote from Britain, in light of the admiration the new British prime minister, Theresa May, recently expressed for “Israel’s thriving democracy.” But the Foreign Office is another world in Britain, and its policy has been unfriendly to the Jewish State since the time of the British Mandate in Palestine, Britain’s abstention on the UN partition resolution, and the participation of British officers who equipped the Arab Legion in the Arab attack on Israel in 1948. May’s criticism of John Kerry’s speech castigating Israel may portend a change in the future, but don’t hold your breath.

As for the vote of the nonpermanent members of the Council, like Malaysia and Venezuela, need any more be said?

Now the U.S. vote, or rather the failure of the U.S. to veto the resolution – that is another story. Samantha Power was quite right when she explained that successive U.S. administrations had been opposed to Israeli settlements in the territories, but she failed to mention that these same administrations had year after year vetoed resolutions critical of Israel at the UN Security Council. For a very simple reason: The U.S. recognized that the UN is biased against Israel and that Israel could not get a fair hearing in that forum. The latest lop-sided vote at the Security Council was further confirmation of that fact.

In the waning weeks of his presidency Barack Obama decided to break from the long-standing and reasonable position that a lame-duck president does not take actions that are contrary to the position of the president-elect. Those claiming that the contacts begun with the PLO by the Reagan administration after the election of George Bush can serve as a precedent seem to be unaware of the fact that the move was coordinated with the incoming president and his staff.

The latest UN Security Council resolution may be in tune with the position of Israelis opposed to the government’s settlement policy, but is hardly proof of the “world’s” support for their views.