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US president Barrack Obama speaking at an AIPAC Convention
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

Editor's Report from Israel: The Real Effects of the The US's failure to Veto the UN Security Council Resolution on Israeli Settlements

By Rhonda Spivak, Dec 29, 2016


Israel’s Hebrew Daily Yediyot Achronot recently ran a cartoon showing President Obama throwing a large rock through a window (reminiscent of a Palestinian stone thrower during the intifada years), that hits a jam buster and splatters jam all over Benjamin Netanyahu’s face just as he and his wife go to recite the Chanukah blessing. Netanyahu has a jam all over his face (the Chanukah equivalent of “egg all over his face) following the passage of the UN resolution condemning all Israeli settlements over the 1967 green line that Obama failed to veto. There is no doubt that Obama ruined Netanyahu’s Chanukah and then some.


The resolution defines all land captured from Jordan in 1967 including the Jewish quarter of the Old City , Western Wall and Temple Mount as “occupied Palestinian land”. The Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus or Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus become isolated enclaves, that could not be accessed without going through “Palestinian’ land. The resolution would take Israel back to what Abba Eban Israel’s Foreign Minister in 1967 said were “Auschwitz lines.”


 The question all of the Israeli media has been trying to explore is what are the real ramifications of this UN resolution 2334. Here are a list of some other potentially very serious ramifications of the resolution.


1. THE DISTINCTION CLAUSE- Clause No. 5 of the resolution calls upon the nations of the world “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” This article calls on the international community not to aid settlements and enables countries and organizations to boycott the settlements either directly or indirectly, making the costs of the settlement enterprise and the status qou increasingly untenable for the Israeli public. Potentially this could encourage the European Union to make its policy of labeling settlement products into law. If various countries acted put teeth into the resolution, it could mean that European banks, for example, would not provide financing to Israeli banks with branches or dealings in the settlements, or it could mean removing the tax-exempt status for charities funding activities in the settlements. These banks as well as gas stations, high-tech companies, and other businesses could well decide to close their branches beyond the Green Line to avoid being included in the "blacklist" of companies carrying on business in the settlements. Countries around the world could also decide to not accept academic qualifications from Israeli institutions such as, for example, Ariel University in the West Bank, which would greatly erode their stature. The current resolution is not binding on any country, and is not retroactive but it does put wind in the sails of any country , financial institution and business desiring to take measures to boycott any Israeli institution that has transactions in the settlement. It could lead to mechanisms to monitor and report Israeli actions, which in turn could lead to serious sanctions being imposed , as was done to the South African apartheid regime. At the very least the resolution could encourage countries around the world to follow the path of European Union and label settlement products, even if they don’t go so far as to boycott them.

(To read more about the meaning of Differentiation and the BDS movement, go to



2. GOVERNMENT MINISTRIES AND DEPARTMENTS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE 67 LINES: ?Note that the Israeli Ministry of justice and Police Headquarters are located in East Jerusalem (which is not an accident as after the 1967 Six Day War, Israel wanted to show it controlled East Jerusalem). Since according to the Resolution, East Jerusalem also falls into the category of territories that need to be “differentiated”, this could encourage some countries to refuse to deal with the Israeli Justice Ministry and Police.


3. PROSECUTION AT THE HAGUE-The Palestinian strategy is to use the resolution to open the door for lawsuits against Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC)of the Hague under the Fourth Generva Convention that prohibits an occupier to transfer parts of its own civilian population into occupied territory and views such an act as a war crime.


Israel fears that government ministers and senior IDF officers who make decisions pertaining to settlement construction , expropriation of land or Palestinian home demolition could be accused of war crimes. This would mean an IDF soldier could be unable to to travel to any of the 120 countries who are members of the ICC (including Europe) without risking arrest. Israel’s fears appear to be well founded in that a prominent Palestinian journalist close to Mahmoud Abbas has said that the Palestinians are assembling a list of “hundreds of” of Palestinian Ma’an news agency told Israeli Channel 2 TV “We have hundreds of pages of names of IDF officers. Every pilot and every officer and every soldier — we have his photo, we have his name, and we are waiting for him at The Hague.” He added “If we are successful with one, just one, it will be a different world.”



It should be noted that the International Criminal Court has already launched a preliminary investigation into the settlements, and PA Ambassador to the UN Rayid Malki has said the Palestinians hoped the resolution would bolster their case at theICC.


a) Individual Settlers would not face Prosecution before the ICC


While the non-judicial UN Security Council refers to the entire settlement enterprise (made up of hundreds of thousands of people) as illegal, I do not think that individual settlers (as opposed to key government ministers involved in settlement approvals) would not face prosecution before the before the ICC.



Note that Israel has said the Fourth Geneva convention doesn't apply to it because the West Bank was captured from Jordan, which has renounced all claims to the land, as well as the fact that Israel has deep historical claims to the land (such that the land is “disputed’ not “occupied”), but I would not expect Israel to win in this argument before the ICC, given prevailing world opinion.


b. Netanyahu plans to ask Trump to Target the UN


The incoming Trump Administration arguably could uses its political and economic clout to persuade the Palestinians to back down from pursuing claims against Israel at the Hague and/or it could change the climate at the UN by threatening to cut off US funding from the body (the US provides the UN with 25% of its funding.)


Yedioth Ahranoth reported on Dec 26 that Netanyahu will push the new US administration to cut its assistance to the UN. “Prime Minister Netanyahu plans to target UNRWA, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people and the anti-Israel [sic] UN employees,” the newspaper reported. UNRWA is the UN agency established specifically to cater for the social, medical and educational needs of Palestinian refugees.



3. PREJUDING ISSUES CENTRAL TO PEACE NEGOTIATIONS-Alan Dershowitz told Fox news (correctly in my opinion) that the UN resolution "will make peace much more difficult to achieve because the Palestinians will now say 'we can get a state through the U.N.'"


Alan Baker, former Israeli Ambassador to Canada, has pointed out that the resolution just passed includes wording not included in previous Security Council resolutions regarding the peace process. (ie the current resolution refers to the "two-state solution based on the 1967 lines," as well as referring to the "Arab Peace Initiative")  which he says are “clearly are intended to instill concepts that have never been agreed-upon elements in the negotiating process.” According to Baker, the reference to the ‘4 June 1967 lines’ as a basis for negotiations appears to run counter to the 1967 Security Council resolution 242, which calls for negotiation of "secure and recognized boundaries." The Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords make no specific reference to the 1967 lines, and its reference in Resolution 2334would appear to be an attempt to prejudge or unduly influence the negotiating issue of borders.”


4. On January 15, France is convening a summit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israel was afraid that the Obama administration, in coordination with Russia, the EU and the UN would use this as an opportunity to craft a second UN Security Council resolution to enshrine the parameters of a Palestinian state.Caroline Glick has written that  "between January 17 and 19, Obama intends for the Security Council to reconvene and follow the gang at the Paris conference by adopting Kerry’s positions as a Security Council resolution. That follow-on resolution may also recognize “Palestine” and grant it full membership in the UN."



Netanyahu  instructed his ministers not to talk about annexing the Ma’ale Adumim settlement outside of Jerusalem, or area “C “ for fear of egging Obama on before he leaves office. Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) failed to heed recent warnings of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuto refrain from speaking about annexing land when said following John Kerry's speech that “the age of a Palestinian state has come to an end.” Bennet also declared that “The Israeli government will advance a program of sovereignty over Ma’ale Adumim for a start” and promised that he would advance an agenda to ensure that Israeli law also apply to “the Jordan Valley, Ariel and Ofra where there are half a million Jews and 70,000 Arabs. In the rest of the territory, where there is around 1.2 million Arabs and not even a single Jew, there will be Palestinian autonomy.) Caroline Glick has suggested that the UNSC will pass a resolution


5. Longer Term-The Next US President of the Democratic Party


 Israel should be very concerned about what will happen  the next time a President from the Democratic Party  is elected in the US. The Democratic party is moving to the left when it comes to Israel, and Israel could be in for a very rough ride. Netanyahu is no doubt hoping that Trump is in power for two terms. But even so, there will be a time when there is a Democratic President-and then what? Could the US and the world then impose a two state solution or will it be impossible on the ground? 

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.