On December 23, 2016, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2334 by a vote of 14-0. This resolution describes Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.
What made this resolution so news worthy was that it was the first time United States President Barack Obama declined to block a Security Council resolution that Israel considered hostile. The United States of America would traditionally use its veto power on the Security Council to veto resolutions that are tabled and do not find favor with Israel.
In this case, the US simply abstained. Israel’s response was swift and angry. Its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned that countries which backed the resolution would pay a diplomatic and economic price. He also accused President Obama of staging an ambush against his country.
Netanyahu called the resolution “shameful, reckless and destructive” and said he was looking forward to working with the Trump administration and allies in Congress to mitigate the damage. Netanyahu recalled Israel’s ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal — two of the resolution’s four co-sponsors — and cut off approximately $8 million in funding to UN institutions.
Senegal defended its sponsorship of the vote despite Israel’s suspension of aid programmes to that country. A Senegalese Government spokesman commented: “Senegal abided by its diplomatic vision. Since 1975, Senegal has been a member of the (UN) Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People… Senegal’s position must be saluted. The international community hails Senegal’s stance…”
Israel has a history of non-compliance with UN resolutions that go against its interests. Interestingly, this non-compliant behaviour does not create any further sanctions and so Israel continues with business as usual.
It continues to ignore UN Security Resolution 242 passed after the 1967 war calling on Israel to withdraw its forces from the land it occupied in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights. Many UN member states already contend Israeli settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention’s rules for administering occupied territory.
Netanyahu has declared that Israel will not abide by the terms of the resolution. For the Palestinians, Resolution 2334 is a moral and a symbolic victory, but practically nothing is really going to change on the ground and Israel will continue with its settlement construction. Nearly 600,000 Jews now live in the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem beyond the 1967 boundary.
What Resolution 2334 may do is give a boost to Palestinians and their supporters in their efforts to bring Israeli officials before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and help the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in their programme against Israel for their illegal activities and settlements.
The United States, under President Obama, took a decisive stance by abstaining in the vote but perhaps this is a little too late. President-elect Donald Trump, who comes into office on January 20, has promised to reverse all that Obama has done and he has certainly signaled his overwhelming support for Israel. His choice of David Friedman as the next US ambassador to Israel reinforces Trump’s position.
Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post, comments on this selection: “Friedman has called President Obama an anti-Semite. This is not merely a calumny, it is an absurdity, evidence of an unsound mind and, if I may, just a bit of racism… Friedman for months has been saying that he would be Trump’s choice for the Israel post. Until now, his diplomatic experience has been limited to representing Trump as his bankruptcy lawyer, virtually a life-time sinecure.”
Cohen adds: “His appointment likely has the support of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who had the wisdom to be born rich and who, apparently on account of his being an observant Jew, has been given the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio… From Trump, the naming of Friedman is a double insult.
“Trump has offended the liberal Jewish community, which didn’t support him anyway. This is a community that in general opposes additional West Bank settlements, favors a two-state solution and has little in common with the religious or nationalist zealotry of the settler movement.”
The United States for years has pumped billions of dollars in support to Israel. In fact, it is under President Obama that in September 2016, the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in US history was signed with Israel. A $38 billion military aid pact covering 10 years.
Roughly one-fifth of America’s foreign aid budget goes to Israel. This amounts, in per-capita terms, to the United States giving each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year. The old adage that “one shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you” doesn’t apply to Israel. For Netanyahu, the US abstaining in a UN vote against Israel is tantamount to treason.
The Zionist plan to establish a state of Israel came into being in the late 19th century and reached full bloom in the early 20th century. On the website of Global Research, the editor’s note to an article by Israel Shahak titled Greater Israel: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East pointed out: The following document pertaining to the formation of “Greater Israel” constitutes the cornerstone of powerful Zionist factions within the current Netanyahu government, the Likud party, as well as within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment.”
It went on: “In recent developments, Donald Trump has confirmed his support of Israel’s illegal settlements and his opposition to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which confirms the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.”
“According to Rabbi Fischmann, “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.” When viewed in the current context, the war on Iraq, the 2006 war on Lebanon, the 2011 war on Libya, the ongoing wars on Syria and Iraq, the war on Yemen, the process of regime change in Egypt, must be understood in relation to the Zionist Plan for the Middle East. The latter consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of an Israeli expansionist project…
The Zionist project supports the Jewish settlement movement. More broadly it involves a policy of excluding Palestinians from Palestine leading to the eventual annexation of both the West Bank and Gaza to the State of Israel.”
These are significant global geo-political issues that will ultimately impact on our vulnerable Caribbean states in 2017 and so we all must be concerned and fully appraised of the dynamics of how these issues work. They are those who blindly give full support to Israel despite its illegal and inhumane activities. These persons are guided by a notion that the Israelis are “God’s chosen people” so they can do no evil.
They are also misguided by a notion that those who speak against the actions of Israel are anti-Semitic, terrorists and Nazi sympathizers. Noteworthy, however, is that there is a growing number of Jewish people and organizations who will also speak out against Israeli aggression and illegal actions.
(Suleiman Bulbulia is a Justice of the Peace. Secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association and Muslim Chaplain at the Cave Hill Campus, UWI. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)