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George Baumgarten

Inside the U.N. Security Council Resolution, Calling for Israeli Withdrawal

by George Baumgarten, United Nations Correspondent, posted Jan 15, 2014


An Arab-sponsored resolution, imposing a compulsory timetable for total Israeli withdrawal from both the West Bank and Gaza, has been vetoed by the United States in the United Nations Security Council. In any event, the resolution would still have failed, since it obtained only eight votes, one short of the minimum of nine required for passage. Some effort had been made to postpone the debate and vote until after the Israeli elections, but the Palestinians had insisted on a full, formal vote right away.


 The story of this Palestinian effort begins, on relatively short notice, when in early November a report first surfaced from the French news agency AFP (Agence France Press) that the Palestinians would seek an end to the “occupation”, through a Security Council Resolution. At that time, Wassel Abu Yussef, who was described as a “senior PLO official”, was said to have told AFP that they “would not halt the process”, even if the U.S. were to veto the Resolution. The report did not specify what form the “continuance” of the process would take. As recounted in the Jerusalem Post, Yusuf maintained that “No other solution has been proposed by the United States”, adding that efforts at negotiations “have failed throughout the last few years”.


 On Saturday, 9 November, at an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, President Mahmoud Abbas said that “We want the Security Council to issue a resolution affirming the status quo that has been prevalent in Jerusalem since 1967”. Abbas also said that recent episodes on the Temple Mount “violated all international resolutions”, and called for their condemnation by the Council. Abbas maintained that Israel’s actions prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state. What was put before the Council, however, proved to be something somewhat different.


 Three weeks later, on Saturday, 29 November, a meeting of the executive of the Arab League announced that the Arab states would seek a withdrawal resolution in the Council. At that time, Abbas was reported to have demanded that Israel  resume peace negotiations immediately, “based on the 1967 lines” (a phrase which actually refers to the lines agreed upon by Israel, Jordan and Egypt, in the ceasefire agreements signed at Rhodes in 1949).


     As anti-Israel resolutions go, this one was not among the most obscenely offensive, and this correspondent has certainly seen far worse (I was present at the U.N. in December 1991, when the General Assembly repealed the notorious “Zionism is Racism” resolution of 1975.). It cites Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which ended the Six-Day and Yom Kippur Wars, respectively. And it mentions also General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) of 1947, by which Palestine was partitioned into separate states—one Jewish, one Arab.


 The Resolution then goes on to note the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force”.  This would sound very just and noble…were it not for the countless instances—right up to the Crimea last year—at which neither the U.N. or anyone raised as much as much as a paltry peep of protest.


 After reciting objections to Israel’s so-called “occupation”, its construction of a boundary wall and various so-called “settlements”, the Resolution finally


     “Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later that 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution…”


 But at the end of that very same paragraph, there appears one word that has been noticed hardly at all, and which this writer regards as uniquely dangerous. It calls for two states: “Israel and a sovereign and contiguous and viable State of Palestine…”.  As this correspondent reads that sentence, the Palestinian state must not be two separate but affiliated pieces of territory, but rather only one unit. This would have the obvious effect of cutting Israel into two pieces (rather like the original state envisioned in the 1949 Partition resolution)!


 The Resolution had been introduced by Jordan, on behalf of the “Arab Group” (By long-standing agreement, there is always some Arab member on the Council—either from the Middle East or North Africa.). Jordan’s new ambassador, Dina Kawar, said that her country (one of only two Arab states to have full diplomatic relations with Israel) would remain in the “forefront” of defending Palestinian tights. The Resolution, she said, was an attempt to end the “blockages” placed by Israel, and “all actions on the ground that every day made the two-state solution less achievable”.


 France’s Francois Delattre, who voted for the Resolution, said the Security Council should become an “actor”, and not “a forum to veto efforts”. He told the Council that it was regrettable that it was not possible to reach any consensus.


 Russia’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin regretted the defeat of the Resolution, which he said would “strengthen the legal basis for negotiations”. He suggested that a possible Security Council Mission to the area might help the situation, and asserted that “settlement” construction was undermining negotiations. Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi said he hoped that negotiations would resume, ending the current “deep stalemate”.


Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, the “Observer” of Palestine, said there was a “global consensus” for the two-state solution, and that the annexation of East Jerusalem was illegal. Alluding to repeated U.S. vetoes of his efforts, he asked “Why are we facing another Security Council failure as the situation unravels and international peace and security is further threatened”.


 Australia was the only Council member, other than the United States, that actually voted against the Resolution (as opposed to those who abstained). Its Ambassador, Gary Quinlan (who was about to leave the Council barely 30 hours later, after a term of two years), maintained that this Resolution would not help the peace process. “A process agreed by both sides”, he said, “is the only way forward to reach an enduring agreement”.


U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power noted that no country has invested more recent time and effort towards a Middle East Peace than the United States. The U.S. voted against the Resolution, she said,


     “…not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because we know what everyone here knows, as well—

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