As the United Nations Security Council shot down an ambitious statehood bid presented to it by the Palestinian Authority, cutting through the hubris – one fact remains clear – Israel is losing friends, and fast.
Regardless of how you look at it – whether it be rising anti-semitism, Israeli foreign policy blunders, Netanyahu’s own mistakes in handling the Palestinian question, or even rising sympathy for the Palestinian cause – it is clear that this was scathingly close to the mark. Close enough to fluster enough feathers in the Knesset.
I implore you to look at the numbers – of the 15 security council members that voted on the Palestinian statehood bid, an astounding 8 voted in favour of Palestine, while only 2 voted against, with 5 abstentions. The two who did vote against vetoed the resolution, but nevertheless, such a success for a Palestinian bid in the halls of the UN is unprecedented, but likely to not be the last if current diplomatic trends are a sign of the times.
Such a level of vehement Israeli opposition at the UN was last seen directly after the 1967 war, when the UN general assembly unanimously adopted not one, but two anti-Israeli bills within the span of 10 days that condemned the Israeli declaration of Jerusalem as a “Jewish capital”. The UN security council also unanimously passed 8 strong anti-Israeli resolutions in 1968 alone, with nations such as the US and USSR agreeing on joint condemnation of Israel.
While that level of stringency faded over the decades, it is making a comeback, and anti-semitism is not to blame, neither is support for the Palestinians. The nations that did vote for Palestine did not do so with Palestinian statehood as their prime objective, but rather Israeli docility.
Ever since Benjamin Netanyahu has taken office, Israel’s once brilliant and masterful foreign policy strategy has taken a plunge for the worse. If anything, the current policy is more of a shouting contest, where Israel abandons the famed negotiation skills and pragmatic diplomacy that resolved so many conflicts under the Israeli left, and instead resorts to a barrage of incitements and condemnations that do little to alleviate issues, but tons to worsen them.
Sensationalism and the urge to brand all Israeli opponents as anti-semites, both in the media and the Knesset, are beginning to crack once concrete relationships with nations abroad. Let it be clear that the nations who voted against Israel in the failed Palestinian bid (such as Luxembourg and Chile) had no spikes in anti-semitism and were not overtly fond of Palestine either. All they wanted was a restrained Israel – an Israel that did not bomb a foreign nation’s nuclear program or Palestinian civilian centres without consulting her allies first.
The Palestinians are unfettered, while Israel is currently showing signs of severe exhaustion. Palestine’s supporters now occupy more than half the security council and nearly three quarters of the general assembly. If Israel’s current course of diplomatic stiffness continues, I believe Palestinian statehood will be an international law sanctioned reality by the end of this decade, not because the world supports Palestine, but rather because it has given up on Israel.
Abbas and the PA knew very well that their bid would fail at the council, but also knew that the only cause of that failure would be a veto, and that the majority of the council sided with them. In other words, this was Abbas’s way of telling Israel that the international community is losing faith in Israeli control of the situation, and that Palestinian statehood is being accepted over Israeli peace – peace that often depends on the mood of the Israeli public.
It’s easy to call the United Nations a weak force that does not accomplish much in order to bend the argument in your favour, but considering the massive weight UN resolutions hold after the US illegally violated the security council’s mandate that prohibited an intervention in Iraq, it is not rational to assume that anything the UN does anymore is non-binding. The UN is more powerful than it has ever been, and with most of the 2015 Millennium goals accomplished, the UN has never been as legitimate in the eyes of the world as it it now.
My two cents, for whatever they’re worth, is to provide a new face to the Palestinians. Netanyahu has had his turn, and he did good things and bad. But the Palestinians, and the world, need a leftist Israel to stop fighting wars, and wage war on war itself. That may be sound idealist at best, but if Israel can fight Ebola in West Africa, you can’t convince me that it cannot solve a problem in its own backyard with concerted effort.