Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN, says the recent UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements is not just a personal fight between Obama, Netanyahu and Trump. It “reflects what the world thinks”, he says. Read more
Much political commentary subsequent to the UN security council vote on the illegal Israeli settlements has tended to focus on the personal antagonisms between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, outgoing US president Barak Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump.
However, in an insightful article in the Globe and Mail “Ignore the political theatre, Resolution 2334 has global support”, Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN (2000- 2004) argued that this is much more than a fight between Netanyahu and Obama. It reflects, he argues, a fight between Israel and the rest of the world.
Heinbecker, who spent 4 years at the UN, including during the Iraq war, points out that resolution 2334 reflects evolving UN resolutions on the Israel/Palestine issue including:
- General Assembly resolution 181 which partitioned Palestine and led to the proclamation of Israel;
- resolution 194 which resolved that peace-minded refugees of the 1948 war should be permitted to return to their homes; and
- Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 that emphasized the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.”
The language of the most recent Security Council resolution is unequivocal. Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have “no legal validity,” they constitute “a flagrant violation of international law,” and they are “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
“Resolution 2334 reflects what the world thinks. It does not constitute a minority view or even a very divided view. If this resolution of the 15-member UN Security Council were put to a vote in the 193-member General Assembly, the outcome would scarcely be different.”
– Paul Heinbecker
Mr. Netanyahu is apparently counting on his ability to persuade president-elect Trump and the U.S. Congress to back his policies. But even if they do, neither will be able to erase resolution 2334, nor change world opinion.
“Nor would U.S. defunding of the UN reverse this resolution,” continues Heinbecker, noting that the U.S. has defaulted on its contributions before and the UN has survived. “And, if the U.S. were to walk away from the UN, as some suggest, who would shield Israel then?”, he asks.
Resolution 2334 is very limited. It does not refer to Gaza. It does not refer to the terrible situation of the 5 million Palestinian refugees. It does not even mention the systemic discrimination inside Israel against its own Palestinian citizens. But the result of the UN Security council vote on Israel’s illegal settlements appears to indicate that the US is finding it more and more difficult to defend Israel against legitimate criticism in the court of world opinion.
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