Big day at the United Nations

Dec 26,2016 – JORDAN TIMES – James J. Zogby

There was considerable drama leading up to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 (UNSCR 2334) reaffirming the illegality of Israeli settlements. 

It began with all hell breaking loose on Thursday morning when it became clear that the Egyptians would submit their resolution on Israeli settlements for a vote at the Security Council and that the Obama administration would support the effort, either by voting in favour or by refusing to veto it. 

On Wednesday, there was a hint that something was up. The White House spokesperson appearing on a cable TV news programme referred to Israeli settlements as illegal — the first time that has happened since the Carter administration.

While he later attempted to “clarify” his remarks, the point had been made.

This was followed by an announcement that Secretary of State John Kerry would make a policy address Thursday, in advance of the UN meeting that was to consider the resolution.

President-elect Donald Trump sprang into action by tweeting: “The resolution being considered at the United Nations regarding Israel should be vetoed.”

This was echoed, minutes later, by a nearly identical tweet from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It has been reported that the two, Trump and Netanyahu, had made direct calls to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, pressuring him to withdraw the resolution.

Egypt folded and pulled the resolution from consideration. Kerry’s speech was abruptly cancelled.

Late Thursday, New Zealand, working together with Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela, with the support of the PLO, issued an ultimatum to Egypt to either immediately introduce the resolution or they would do it themselves.

When Egypt did not, the New Zealand-led group followed through and a vote was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

In response to this development, the threats from the Israelis, the president-elect, and members of the US Senate increased in intensity.

At 2pm, the Security Council convened. Members spoke and then voted: 14 in favour, none opposed, with the United States abstaining, thereby, guaranteeing the passage of the resolution.

Adding to the day’s drama following the passage of UNSC 2334, the usually staid Security Council chamber broke into sustained applause. 

Trump, ever the bully, responded with an ominous threat: “As to the UN, things will be different after January 20th.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, chair of the committee that oversees foreign operations’ funding, called the resolution a “provocative action” that “must be dealt with sternly and forcefully”, and threatened to cut US support for the United Nations. 

Netanyahu reacted hysterically, terming the vote “shamelessly anti-Israel”, accusing the Obama administration of “ganging up” against Israel”, and declaring that Israel would not be bound by any of the terms of the resolution. 

Looking at the text of Security Council Resolution 2334 itself, one might wonder why all the drama and overreaction.

It is, in fact, largely a restatement of decades of US policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


1 reply

  1. The interesting aspect is that big boy Sisi has shown himself to be a coward – ah, well, this is realpolitik I suppose … poor Arab nations… (to have such leaders) …

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