The outrageous anti-Israel resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council on Friday was a deafening cry of antipathy by the world’s greatest powers, and a cynical declaration that bias and political agendas trump fairness and due process in the world’s preeminent international organization.
Less than two weeks ago, outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon admitted, for the first time in his near 10-year term, that a clear bias against Israel reigns at the United Nations. And yet, he welcomed the Security Council’s glaringly biased and counterproductive resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements as “an opportunity to encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work with the international community.”
Ban was referring to the same international community which, by his own admission, time and again abandons its own resolutions mandating direct negotiations, rather than external impositions, for ending the Middle East conflict. This is the same international community which repeatedly singles out Israel for condemnation with placating mention of Palestinian terror, while ignoring suffering and human rights abuses across the world; the same international community which has, through UNESCO resolutions, denied the Jewish people’s historical connection with Jerusalem, which has maintained Permanent Item 7 on its UNHRC agenda devoted to Israel’s “human rights abuses” against Palestinians, and which has equated Zionism – the defense of the Jewish people’s right to a homeland in Israel – with racism.
The message relayed by Israel’s greatest ally, the United States, in its choice to abstain was explicit. The four countries that pushed to table the vote, just a day after Egypt pulled back, called the resolution “urgent.” As US Ambassador Samantha Power herself said, none of these Security Council members could “muster the will” for immediate action to stop the Aleppo bombardment, or the flow of arms to murderers in South Sudan. The only urgency here was to ensure adoption of a biased and imposing resolution against Israel before the end of the current US administration’s term in office. It is shameful that the US would buy into the tactics of states such as Venezuela and Malaysia – notorious violators of human rights – to expedite such a narrow and limiting text, an attack on both Israel and the vital negotiations process so essential to ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
It has long been US policy that a peace agreement cannot be imposed from the outside, but rather reached only through bilateral talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and US practice has always been to veto any resolutions that preclude such a process. Ambassador Power said that it was “because this forum too often continues to be biased against Israel, because there are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed in this resolution” that the US chose to abstain. And yet, it is precisely this ingrained bias that should have compelled the US not to deviate from its own long-standing policy by allowing this tendentious forum to pass such a one-sided resolution.
The issue at stake here is not the settlements, but rather the United Nations’ decision to impose external restrictions and intervene in Israeli law and efforts to resume peace negotiations, and the fact that by not vetoing or even rejecting this resolution, the US allowed it to pass, a resounding stab in the back of its great ally.
Israel has shown time and again that it is willing to enter talks to end this conflict, but the Palestinians, instead of coming to the negotiating table, have imposed numerous preconditions, including the settlement question. The most viable end to this conflict — as is the official position of the World Jewish Congress representing more than 100 Jewish communities across the globe — is a two-state solution, one reached through direct negotiations by the two parties who have lived together and suffered in this region for decades. Resolutions such as these only hinder the likelihood of a real settlement directly negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.
The United Nations consistently takes sides against Israel and seeks to foist its will rather than playing honest broker so as to enable Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. In deferring to the Security Council on this critical core issue, the US has allowed the counterproductive bias of the United Nations to gain the upper hand, at least in the short term, posing yet another obstacle to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Ronald S. Lauder is the president of the World Jewish Congress.