Last Friday afternoon, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which criticized Israeli construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. The resolution passed 14-0; the United States could have vetoed the resolution, but instead chose to abstain. The negative effects of the resolution will likely be felt for years to come. Hillel Neuer of the watchdog organization UN Watch recently wrote an open letter to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power outlining many ways ways that the resolution will make peace less likely. The U.S.’s decision not to block the resolution, wrote Neuer, “reverses decades of past practice, sets back the cause of peace, and harms the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans.”
The Resolution Encourages Palestinian Intransigence, Making Peace More Remote
International condemnation of Israel will encourage the Palestinian Authority to “await being handed the same or more by international fiat,” Neuer wrote. This in turn “implicitly encourages the International Criminal Court (ICC) to move forward in its preliminary examination of whether Israeli officials have engaged in the ‘war crime’ of settlement building, and provides the same impetus to prosecutions in national courts that claim universal jurisdiction.”
(In 2011, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas articulated his strategy to eschew negotiations and instead internationalize the conflict against Israel by avoiding or derailing negotiations and instead petitioning bodies like the ICC and UN Security Council.)
The resolution only identified Israeli actions as a “major obstacle” to peace, Neuer noted, and in no way assigned any similar responsibility to Palestinians, mentioning terrorism and incitement only in the abstract.
The Resolution Reverses American Security Guarantees, Damaging The Country’s Credibility
Power’s refusal to veto the resolution went back on past commitments and compromised American credibility in the world, Neuer wrote. The most fundamental commitment broken was done by enshrining a reference to “the 4 June 1967 lines” in the resolution, which has never before been done in a successful Security Council resolution related to Israel. In this way, Neuer wrote, “the resolution seeks to relitigate and rewrite U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967, the cornerstone of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations over the past half-century—endorsed by the Palestinians at Oslo—which calls for the right of every state to live in peace within ‘secure and recognized boundaries’ and for Israel to withdraw ‘from territories occupied’” in the Six-Day War—with no reference to which specific territories must be included or excluded. Subsequent American presidents from both parties have opposed interpreting Resolution 242 as meaning that Israel must return all territories over the Green Line, as Resolution 2334 sets out. For example, President Lyndon Johnson, who was president during the Six-Day War, said in 1968, “We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of June 4, 1967, will not bring peace. There must be secure, and there must be recognized, borders.”
Resolution 2334 also abrogated the 2004 Bush-Sharon Letters, in which President George W. Bush wrote, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.”
The resolution also flies in the face of American public opinion, which rejects the imposition of peace terms by the United Nations. Prominent politicians from both parties expressed their opposition to the resolution, including incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who will be America’s most powerful Democrat once President Barack Obama leaves office. Overwhelming majorities of both houses of Congress urged Obama earlier this year to veto resolutions that were biased against Israel.
Neuer added that by failing to note that many areas east of the Green Line are expected to remain part of Israel in a peace agreement, the resolution caused the United States to “alienate itself from the vast majority of the Israeli population and political parties, who regard the Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall, and Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem such as Ramot and Gilo as an integral part of Israel—all of which are defined in the resolution as ‘occupied Palestinian territory'[. And] likewise, the Israeli Jewish communities in the large settlement blocs such as Gush Etzion have for years been considered part of the Israeli consensus.”
Joining the Jackals
By allowing the resolution to pass (which in turn allowed dictatorships like Venezuela and Angola to pass judgment on alleged Israeli malfeasance) the United States “joined the jackals,” Neuer wrote. This term was used in an article by former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Daniel Patrick Moynihan when describing a similar betrayal of Israel by the Carter administration. Portions of that article could have been published with minor changes this week:
In a word, according to Resolution 465, Israel is an outlaw state, guilty of war crimes. (Not the Vietnamese invaders of Cambodia, or the Soviets in Afghanistan. Israel!) Its alleged capital is not its capital at all—“Jerusalem or any part thereof”—and it is in illegal occupation of territory now for the first time designated “Palestinian.”
Here, then, was the triumph of everything the Soviets and the “Rejectionists” had stood for: the repudiation of everything Sadat, and for that matter Begin and Carter, had sought. Yet the United States voted in favor of this resolution. Shortly thereafter the administration stated that this had been a “mistake.” It was no mistake at all. Resolution 465 reflected the view of the majority of members of the United Nations, and the U.S. Mission there had simply come to accept that view. Their conception of the world, by now shared in Washington, gave them no alternative.
The director of the Gaza branch of World Vision, one of the world’s largest evangelical Christian charities, was arrested in June for funneling millions of dollars to the terrorist group Hamas. This would likely be surprising to shoe unfamiliar with the charity’s history. As Luke Moon documented, World Vision has adopted increasingly anti-Zionist (if not anti-Semitic) views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the past few decades.
It has employed a succession of anti-Israel activists in critical jobs and partnered with anti-Israel organizations and individuals. In 1982, World Vision President Stanley Mooneyham visited Lebanon and compared Israeli searches for PLO terrorists to Nazi raids. In 1997, Tom Getman took over as World Vision’s director in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, and promptly partnered with the Christian anti-Zionist organization Sabeel. Getman’s two successors, Dan Simmons and Charles Clayton, partnered with the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees, whose leader was later expose as a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, another terrorist group.
Their successor, Alex Snary, partnered with Bethlehem Bible College and other anti-Israel Christian organizations throughout the West Bank. It was also under Snary’s watch that el-Halabi became manager of World Vision’s Gaza branch, moving up the ranks while attaining more responsibility and less oversight.
The Halabi affair was a byproduct of the politicization of World Vision’s religious mission, Moon wrote. It has also lost donors due to its “decision to reject evangelism and place politics above providing aid to suffering people.” The events of the last year may be a wake-up call to the charity, leading it to “live up to its own commitment to political and theological neutrality.”
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Three Big Questions
Newly-released documents of deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency essential give Iran the license to cheat on the commitments it made under last year’s nuclear deal without much consequence. Will next year bring a push to enforce the nuclear deal more strictly to ensure that Iran cannot weaponize its nuclear material?
Satellite picture published this week suggest that Iran and North Korea may be cooperating on ballistic missile development, and perhaps even illicit nuclear research, which would be another violation of the nuclear deal. Are there other ways by which Iran is cheating, either domestically or abroad?
In the past week, there has been pushback against Resolution 2334 from both Israel and allies such as Australia. The United Kingdom voted for the resolution, but then criticized Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech justifying his own country’s abstention vote. Does this suggest dissatisfaction with the way the resolution was introduced and voted on? Will that spur some nations to seek to limit the damage done to Israel and the world by its passage?
[Photo: John Gillespie / Flickr ]