Opinion

The UN Security Council Vote Is pro-Israel

Israel and the occupation are not the same thing yet. Israelis must listen to the wake-up call voiced in New York | Opinion

A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus runs to avoid tear gas during clashes with Israeli border police officers, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016.
Nasser Nasser/AP

The United Nations Security Council resolution against the settlements will not bring about the end of the occupation. But the Israelis who have been fed endless lies by right-wing governments and their silent partners in the “opposition” have to listen to the wake-up call voiced in New York on Friday.

This year is already being celebrated as the beginning of the post-truth era. However, what is a catchy phrase for clever headlines does not necessarily reflect reality. Here, on this small strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the facts burned into the bodies and souls of the victims of life and death under the occupation have inarguably harsh significance.

Here is one fact: A resolution against the occupation and the settlements is not an anti-Israel resolution. Israel and the occupation are not the same thing yet, even though the Israeli policies of the past decades have dragged us to the edge of this abyss. The Security Council resolution – which supports the two-state solution, rejects violence and asserts the illegality of the settlements – is a pro-Israeli resolution just as it is a pro-Palestinian one.

The United Nations Security Council, December 21, 2016.
AFP / Drew Angerer

And here is another fact: Anyone who equates Israel and the occupation regime as one and the same is positing a false equivalence. It is the government whose polices are eradicating the Green Line for Israeli citizens while holding millions of Palestinians under occupation and without political rights, thereby continuously violating basic human rights. These policies are a crime against the occupied Palestinian population – and at the same time it is the state itself that is knocking the legitimacy out from under its own feet. Every Israeli who sees his and his family’s future here – and I am one of a very large number of Israelis who do – has to be worried about what such a future holds. In contrast to equating Israel and the occupation, the UN Security Council resolution makes clear the difference between the legitimacy of the state and the illegitimacy of the occupation and the settlements.

A third fact: About 13 million people live between the Jordan and the sea, Israelis and Palestinians, and nothing is going to change that. All of us – Jews and Arabs inside the Green Line, in annexed East Jerusalem, in the occupied West Bank or in the Gaza Strip that is controlled from outside – are living under one kind of Israeli control or another and all of us will still be here tomorrow. The important issue that should concern us is not what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posts on Facebook, but rather our future: How are 13 million people going to live here?

The only future that promises security and stability is a future based on fairness, liberty, equality and rights for all these human beings. There are different ways to bring about this future. What's clear is that the continuation of occupation, violence and usurping land isn’t one of them.

Israelis who want to ensure our future and the future of the Palestinians here have to be very worried about the next four years under Donald Trump's administration. Toward the end of his term in office, the occupation will probably mark its 54th year. How much more injustice, death, usurpation and suffering will occur under a right-wing government that is expecting Washington to give it a bright and comprehensive green light? One hopes that the Security Council resolution will help rein in Israeli policy, if even to some small extent. In any case, the international consensus remains as it was: The occupation and the settlements are not legitimate and not legal.

Israelis who oppose the occupation must not fear to act and to speak out in every significant arena in order to raise a voice against the current reality and to demand a different future. Benjamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman – all of them are in favor of one version or another of the status quo, or worse. Most of the political establishment in Israel is captive and scared but even if 100 percent of Israelis were to vote for occupation in a democratic vote, it would not make the control of another people democratic. In a democracy, the people choose their own government – not its control over another people.

Two months ago, we at B’Tselem chose to express the opposition of many people in Israel to the occupation at the United Nations Security Council. We believe that opposition to the occupation must not only continue, but also shift into higher gear. We must articulate this in New York, in Be’er-Sheva, in Ramallah, in Sussia in the West Bank and everywhere else. And one final fact: Trump will pass but our lives here will remain.

Hagai El-Ad is the executive director of B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories