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Security Council's election message to Israelis: Keep ignoring the occupation

Israel and Washington together blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for the implementation of a negotiated two-state solution within a year. Abbas’s diplomatic efforts have hit a brick wall.

The Security Council votes on a draft resolution submitted by Jordan on the establishment of “a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine” within 12 months, December 30, 2014. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

The Security Council votes on a draft resolution submitted by Jordan on the establishment of “a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine” within 12 months, December 30, 2014. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

The Israeli government came out with the upper hand yesterday at the United Nations Security Council: a joint effort by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry managed to gather enough votes to block a Palestinian resolution calling for a negotiated two-state solution and an end to the occupation within a year (full text here). Jordan submitted the proposed resolution on behalf of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Out of 15 members of the Security Council, eight supported the motion, two opposed and five abstained. Even if the Palestinians would have gathered the necessary nine votes, the American “nay” would have counted as a veto and the motion would have been defeated.

The outcome is a serious blow to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s efforts to advance the cause of a two-state solution through diplomatic measures, after both direct negotiations with Israel and moves in the UN effort failed to produce any meaningful achievements for the Palestinians this year.

There were some indications recently that the Obama administration feared a successful UN bid by the Palestinians would help Prime Minister Netanyahu in the coming general elections (due to take place on March 17). It’s clear, however, that the current outcome is even better for Bibi.

Netanyahu’s strategy is about maintaining the status quo in the occupied territories. Knowing that he will never win an international majority supporting the occupation, Netanyahu is focusing his policy on gathering the support of several key governments to block any measures against Israel, as they did last night. Netanyahu and his supporters see no urgency in solving the issue of the occupation – most of them deny its existence altogether – and they were proven right yesterday.

Despite the bad blood between Netanyahu and the Obama administration, the Washington continues to play a key role in allowing Israel to maintain the current trends on the ground. The Obama administration made clear, well in advance, that it wouldn’t allow the Security Council to pass a resolution placing any deadline on the Israeli occupation, now closing in on its 50th year.

As far as the internal Israeli conversation goes, the long-term consequences of the vote could be even worse than the short-term ones: last night’s vote not only helped Netanyahu internally and proved his strategy more sustainable than the opposition claims, even if an election upset leads to the forming of a centrist government, Israeli leaders won’t feel any urgency to advance a final-status solution, and the rightward drift of the Israeli mainstream will continue. As I’ve written in the past, the circumstances in which elected leaders operate are much more important than their personalities or ideologies (that’s true for any leader, not just Israelis), and right now the cost of change on the Palestinian front is enormous — incentives for it on the Israeli side are almost nonexistent. There is nothing more distant and abstract for the Israeli voter than the Palestinian issue. You hardly hear anything about it in these elections; the Security Council vote pretty much guaranteed that things will remain this way.

Related: The hand that holds the status quo together

As for Abbas, his strategy hit a brick wall. Hamas’s central claim – that diplomacy is a hollow hope, and only armed resistance can get the international community and the Israeli political system engaged – scored serious points last night. Abbas is under pressure to join the International Criminal Court and try to get Israeli officials prosecuted, and many Palestinians want him to stop security coordination with Israel. Abbas is caught between a rock and a hard place: the sole function of the PA, in Israeli eyes, is providing protection to Israelis. If the PA confronts Israel, it will be destroyed, just as it happened 10 years ago. If it doesn’t – then what’s the point in maintaining it?

Riyad H. Mansour (right), Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN, speaks to journalists following a meeting of Arab delegations to the UN on a draft resolution regarding Palestinian statehood to be submitted to the Security Council, December 30, 2014. (UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz)

Riyad H. Mansour (right), Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN, speaks to journalists following a meeting of Arab delegations to the UN on a draft resolution regarding Palestinian statehood to be submitted to the Security Council, December 30, 2014. (UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz)

Last night’s vote made it clear that when it comes to the Palestinian issue, the United States is part of the problem, not of the solution. Washington basically views the issue from the Israeli perspective, as if the Palestinians rights are dependent on the goodwill of the Israeli government. When that goodwill disappears (as is the case now), tough luck.

As long as the diplomatic process – or any form of engagement – must pass through Washington, nothing will change. Instead of calling for more American involvement, maybe what the peace camp should hope for is American disengagement. With that in mind, the only encouraging aspect of the UNSC vote and the negotiations that led to it, is the active role taken by France (which supported the Jordanian-Palestinian motion), suggesting again that the EU might be better qualified than Washington to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

2014 was the year the real price of the status quo was revealed – in the horrors of Gaza, in East Jerusalem, and with deteriorating relations between Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel within the 67 borders. In the final days of the year, a UNSC resolution could have created a new sense of urgency among various actors, most notably, in the Israeli government. Its failure will have an opposite effect. The driving force on the ground will continue to be the occasional outburst of violence, and Israel’s de facto annexation process. The human rights abuses will continue, and a peaceful and just solution seems more elusive than ever.

 

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    COMMENTS

    1. Bruce Gould

      The occupation where homes are destroyed for lack of ‘building permits’, olive trees are burned down, crops are bulldozed, and a Kafkaesque legal system rules the West Bank – that occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Mikesailor

      This is not Palestinian diplomatic incompetence. This is the work of Palestinian Quislings all too willing to sell out their countrymen. Led by the main Quisling Abbas who is apparently more interested in retaining the “good graces” of the US and Israel rather than doing what is evidently right. Why rush the vote? On this Friday or later the vote would have been much more assured in the Palestinian’s favor. Would New Zealand have voted for Israel? I doubt it. Would Spain have abstained? Nigeria abstaining could have been foretold, their President Goodluck Jonathan is engaged in a civil war with Muslim extremists. Why would he vote against the wishes of the US when the US is bankrolling his war? No, this was a BS game. For what good is going to the ICC at this time? Even if they rule, what are their enforcement capabilities? And remember, it will be years before they are able to render a decision. Israel should be happy with this Palestinian move, although they will cry and whine like never before. It allows them carte blanche to continue the occupation (with the silent approval of the Quisling PA which hopes the domestic population won’t realize how they have been screwed).
      A vote for Palestinian statehood would have made possible both an expansion of BDS and EU sanctions, whether the US vetoed or not. Not “pushing” for such makes the battle aginst the occupation that mush more difficult.
      If Abbas had any “balls” he would organize immediate elections in the Palestinian territories and admit his term ended long ago. Don’t hold your breath. I often wondered why Arafat elevated Abbas and then demoted him. I think I know the answer. He recognized an Israeli stooge when he saw one.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ken joseph

      There key issue that is being ignored by the writer of this article (and many othets) is that until the Palestinians & Arabs accept the existence of the Jewish state & their right to exist, no agreement can be forthcoming. One cannot make peace with someone who has your elimination as their no 1 goal. I cannot see them Muslims ever changing their hatred of Jewish people or true Christians & their desire for world domination. There writing is on the wall, but few understand it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben Zakkai

        Thanks Ken! None of us understood the problem until you explained it so clearly. Your Hasbara check is on the way. Would you like the Tooth Fairy to put it under your pillow?

        Indeed, the writing is on the wall.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Ben Zakkai

      Noam, why all the doom and gloom? Yeah, it would have been good if the resolution passed, but its failure will be good too. That’ll reinforce Israel’s sense of impunity, which will encourage it to commit additional outrages, which will further alienate world opinion and put pressure on foreign leaders, which is the only thing that’ll eventually get the ball rolling in a positive direction here. Pride goeth before a fall. I’m sorry it has to be that way, but tyrannical thieving regimes never give up voluntarily.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Phil Fumble

      thanks for the great story!

      Reply to Comment
    6. Tomer

      Israel Unrecognised = No Justice = More Occupation and more Jewish Villages in Yesha

      Reply to Comment
    7. Bar

      Just a reminder that Israel has offered peace, a state and withdrawal 3 times in the past 14 years and has been rejected all 3 times. Also, Abbas walked away from Obama’s most recent offering, though it hasn’t been made public what that was.

      The suggestion that it’s Israel that needs a sense of urgency is absurd. It’s the Palestinians who need to feel it. The Israelis are post-urgency precisely because the Palestinians have made it clear they aren’t willing to compromise.

      What’s a realistic solution, Noam? You know, one that doesn’t put your family in danger of death, maiming or loss of their home and/or freedom?

      Reply to Comment
    8. Mikesailor

      Bar: Please present the maps of these wonderful Israeli ‘offers’. You can’t? Then shut up. As for Tomer: you are truly a waste of skin. The PA has recognixed Isreal as a state. Period. There is no requirement for anyone, and I repeat ANYONE to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or any other type of ethnocracy. The EU won’t, the US won’t , the UN won’t, and neither will the rest of the world. Using that as an excuse to steal and brutalize shows only what a moral and intellectual degenerate you truly are.

      Reply to Comment
      • Phil Fumble

        The Palestinians are the only entity that wish to overrun Israel with hordes of misersble, impoverished refugees with the cynical intent to destroy,the social and politocal fabric of Israel. That is the reason the Palistinians are singled out in the necesity of making this claim.
        As someone who does not enjoy human suffering, I hope hope thst they may realize this reality sooner rather than later

        Reply to Comment
          • Phil Fumble

            There can be no maps without the Palestinians dropping their demand to flood Israel with hordes of belligerents.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            I see. How convenient. That curious map drawing paralysis that afflicts the Israelis. But the Israelis don’t have to drop their demands to illegally flood the occupied territories with belligerent settlers. That’s Phil’s idea of even-handedness. It’s one cliché after another with you Phil.

            Reply to Comment
          • Phil Fumble

            Don’t put words in my mouth as it makes you look even more foolish.

            And please don’t slander all Israelis living over the green line as being belligerent.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Nothing doing. You like that word “slander.” You just called the mass of Palestinian refugees “hordes of belligerents.” That’s slander. It is not slander, however, to call every asinine hilltop youth juvenile a belligerent, nor their aiders and abettors, nor any of the fine Jewish human beings who just tore out 6000 olive tree saplings, nor those who have destroyed 800,000 of other people’s olive trees since 1967, nor those who just pelted American officials with rocks. And in fact every Israeli living over the green line is by definition a belligerent because they willingly participate in a belligerent occupation. That’s a fact.

            Reply to Comment
          • Phil Fumble

            Brian is king of the nerds.

            Reply to Comment
        • Bryan

          It’s happened before Phil – in the late 19th and 20th century Palestine was “overrun … with hordes of miserable, impoverished refugees” (mostly from north eastern Europe, but also Yemen, Morocco etc) “with the cynical intent to destroy the social and political fabric” of the land and establish a Jewish state. This deep concern for providing a refuge for helpless victims of hardship is thankfully deeply embedded in Judaism (“And remember you were strangers in the land of Egypt”.) Ethiopians, Russians and even Peruvian Indians are welcome to come despite the strain they imposed financially and their huge cultural differences fro the Ashkenazi elite, but heaven forbid that any of those who lived here for centuries before their brutal expulsion should return to their ancestral homeland.

          Reply to Comment
    9. Bar

      To the ignorant morons, the offers by Israel are well represented by numerous historic accounts of participants. Grow up.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Here’s the real deal on what happened between Olmert and Abbas. Should forever retire the misinformation peddled about Abbas. And put into correct perspective Netanyahu’s rejectionism. It also provides a nice summary, complete with a simple, useful map, of the problem with Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and Efrat:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/magazine/13Israel-t.html?pagewanted=all.&_r=0

        A Plan for Peace That Still Could Be
        By BERNARD AVISHAI

        Reply to Comment
    10. Mikesailor

      Poor Bar. Still can’t come up with any maps can you? Why not? Perhaps because they don’t exist? Or because they would give the lie to the hasbara we constantly are subjected to? Everyone has read the self-serving BS put out by the so-called “participants”, but never are we able to observe the parties’ real positions on any kind of map. The Israelis are especially guilty of this non-production, according to even their own ‘negotiators”. So, get off your butt, Bar, and show us something. If you still can’t, then shut up. We already know you are a disingenous fool, we don’t need any more evidence.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        Mike – I’m currently reading Clayton Swisher’s “The Truth About Camp David” which demonstrates how Israel never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

        Reply to Comment
    11. Phil Fumble

      Lol. You are going to blow a gasket over the maps. Fool

      Reply to Comment
    12. Mareli

      Has any consideration been given to Canada’s being the “honest broker” in the negotiations? Or even France itself? The US really lacks any credibility in this respect, for good reason.

      Reply to Comment
      • Phil Fumble

        Bring on the Candaians! No frogs, sorry.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bryan

          So it would be OK to say “No yids, sorry”. That would be a term of racial abuse, but surely a relatively mild one – merely alluding to the yiddish language, and thus equivalent to saying “no Frenchies, sorry” rather than saying “no cold-blooded slimey amphibians”. Double standards!

          Reply to Comment
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