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The world's obligation to end the occupation

Israeli-Palestinian relations do not solely belong to Israel. The international community has a right and an obligation to intervene.

By Ilan Baruch

The Security Council voted on a draft resolution submitted by Jordan on the establishment of “a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine” within 12 months. The result of the vote was 8 in favour, 2 against (Australia and United States) and 5 abstentions (Lithuania, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Rwanda and United Kingdom). Having failed to gain the requisite 9 votes in favour -- and given the veto by the United States -- the draft resolution was not adopted. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

The Security Council voted on a draft resolution submitted by Jordan on the establishment of “a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine” within 12 months. The result of the vote was 8 in favour, 2 against (Australia and United States) and 5 abstentions (Lithuania, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Rwanda and United Kingdom). Having failed to gain the requisite 9 votes in favour — and given the veto by the United States — the draft resolution was not adopted. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

Right-wing propagandists have been quick to take credit for the outcome of the UN Security Council vote on Tuesday, which rejected the Palestinians’ resolution to unilaterally end the occupation, rather than through negotiations. The resolution won the support of eight out of 15 members of the Security Council — just shy of passing.

However, a closer look at the votes shows that there were neither winners nor losers in New York. The Palestinians won the support of the majority of Security Council members, while a minority of states opposed the resolution (eight yes votes and two no votes); a total of 13 states supported the resolution or abstained, while only two, the U.S. and Australia, opposed. Out of the five permanent members of the UNSC, three supported the resolution (Russia, China and France) while one abstained (Britain). The Palestinian failure, therefore, stems not from the fact that the majority of countries, including the United States, wish to see an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but rather from the Security Council’s procedures themselves (which require a majority of nine states to pass resolutions).

It seems that the Security Council may return and discuss the French resolution on the same issue, although it is likely to be rejected due to American sensitivities over meddling in internal Israeli affairs before the elections. But in reality U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has already brought down the Netanyahu government. Washington’s pressure to thaw the peace process led to renewed talks in July 2013. The death knell, however, sounded in April 2014. The failure led to a steep rise in Palestinian anger toward of the status quo.

Abbas, who understood that violence would only give Israel a golden opportunity to forever tarnish his presidency, put forward two parallel initiatives. On the one hand, he promoted national reconciliation and established a technocratic unity government. On the other hand, he pushed a diplomatic initiative at the UN Security Council, whose goal was to place the occupied territories under independent Palestinian sovereignty by 2017.

Events on the ground took a different route. The kidnapping and murder of three yeshiva students in Gush Etzion by Hamas militants led to a military operation against Hamas’ infrastructure in the West Bank. This, in turn, led to a full-scale military confrontation with Hamas in Gaza. The Israeli government failed to convince its public that it came out victorious. Instead, it gave its citizens 51 days of anxiety, thousands of rockets and mortars, infiltration attempts through tunnels, a one-day closure of Ben-Gurion Airport, dozens dead and wounded, and massive economic damages.

It also brought about unprecedented destruction in Gaza: over 2,100 dead, tens of thousands wounded, hundreds of thousands homeless and billions in damages. The world was shocked. Alongside expressions of support for Israel’s right to protect itself came condemnations from some of the most important capitals in the world, including Berlin and Washington DC. An international fact finding mission has begun its work, and Israel is not cooperating.

The war in Gaza, which was born out of Kerry’s failed peace initiative, led to disappointment in terms of security, economy and morale, as well as to the downfall of Netanyahu’s government.

Over the past two decades, Israel has dictated the terms of negotiations to both the Palestinians and the Americans: it must be done in bilateral channels, and aside from the Israelis and Palestinians, only the United States can take part in the process as a facilitator. This has resulted in distorted power dynamics in the negotiation room: the Palestinians have nothing to offer, while the Netanyahu government isn’t interested in the “two states for two peoples” solution based on 1967 borders.

This situation must fundamentally change, and the upcoming elections provide a good opportunity to sharpen the message. Israeli-Palestinian relations do not solely belong to Israel. The world has a right and an obligation to intervene. The Americans must clarify that the lack of a breakthrough will lead to a complete deterioration in Israel’s international standing. Israel’s allies must force it to return to the table so that it can reconfigure its strategic interests.

The Palestinians’ failure to garner a strong majority to support its resolution brings us to another reconfiguration. As Israel gears up for the elections, the United States and Europe must make clear the price Israelis will pay without a real peace process, as well as what it stands to gain from making peace.

Ilan Baruch, former Ambassador of Israel to South Africa, is currently actively involved in the Peace NGOs Forum. This article first appeared in +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it here.

Related:
Security Council’s election message to Israelis: Keep ignoring the occupation
Israel’s elections: A referendum on Netanyahu

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    COMMENTS

    1. Dave Kreiselman

      What a load of bullshit. It’s not the world’s responsibility, not the Jewish American community’s responsibility, and it’s not the Diaspora’s responsibility to clean up your mess. I love this. For years we were treated to such utterances as; ” Mind your business” or the ever popular; “Just send us your money and be quiet”. And this came from the Left. Guess what? Look around the room. You’re running out of friends. I think this time will leave you to clean up your own mess.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        This is a load of incoherence. “Just send us your money and be quiet” came from the left? Better get out your compass and check your bearings and while you’re at it get out your weather vane and check which way the wind is blowing. Baruch is right: the days when Israel owns Israel-Palestinian relations are numbered. And that’s as it should be. Time to take the keys away from the teenage drunk driver.

        Reply to Comment
        • Dave Kreiselman

          Whatever Brian. I lived there. Served for three years in their Army. Back in the eighties there was much more of a concensus when it came to contempt for American Jews and their opinions. A contempt that was stronger on the left than it was on the right. Those pleas are falling on deaf ears. Where’s the left wing Israelis when their literati like AB Yehoshua, show up in the states to lecture us about our lack of substance as Jews? You know what Bri? Save your snark and misplaced arrogance for someone who won’t make you look stupid.

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            You sound bitter, Dave. I do think I misunderstood you, but not out of stupidity. You weren’t very clear. I see now that you weren’t really writing from the Right or the Left. Now I think I understand better what you meant by “clean up your own mess.” Was I misled by the “what a load of BS” you led with? I think the author’s point is that the locals have proven themselves incapable of cleaning up their own mess after years of saying “leave it to us.” And that the world has plenty of good reasons to see the mess cleaned up. I don’t disagree with your feelings about the way the diaspora has been treated nor have I liked ABY’s curious lecturing on this.

            Reply to Comment
          • Dave Kreiselman

            Yeah, ok. I’m a little bitter. Peace.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Thanks, you too!

            Reply to Comment
    2. Dave Kreiselman

      And one other thing. This stuff about how you think Israel “owns” the process. The only reason this running sore of a conflict has gone on for as long as it has been because of the collusion of the western powers and it’s Jewish diaspora, not in spite of it. That is not to say that certain factions in Israel have taken full advantage of this state of affairs, but the claim that the Israelis are unilaterally responsible is specious.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        Dave, since you’re a military guy I’d be interested in your opinion about something: it’s always seemed to me that the role of both the U.S. and Israeli military in affecting their respective governments policies has been under-reported. Specifically, there’s a great article in the January Harpers about how the U.S. government has become a branch of the Pentagon – after the Soviet Union collapsed the military had to invent something to keep the weapons money flowing. Is the same going on in Israel? In other words, there’s a lot of jobs dependent on having a vast war-machine: http://whoprofits.org/content/proven-effective-crowd-control-weapons-occupied-palestinian-territories

        Reply to Comment
        • Dave Kreiselman

          To say I’m a “military guy” might be a stretch. I got drafted like everyone else and did my stuff. Someone once said; “War is the organizing principle of any society” If that is so, than it’s only logical that the military and therefore the govt will become a tool of interested parties. It’s my impression that in Israel it’s the same, only somewhat more Byzantine. That is to say that in addition to the usual bad actors(In Israel’s case, real estate developers, military-industrial people, the tech sector, etc.) you also have religous wack jobs, a nascent but growing settler fascist movement that hints at civil war at every turn, Holocaust Revenge Fantasizers (what? You thought Sheldon Adelson gives a shit about Zionism? Nah, for Jews like Shelly it was all about a taxi drivers son getting his yiddish testicles out of hock. If a couple of billion dollars couldn’t do it, maybe he could buy a Prime Minister and seal the deal), all extremely well funded.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Joel

      Here’s my take.

      Palestinian Muslims in the PA cannot make a deal that cedes ‘Islamic land’ to the Jews.

      So let the West do the dirty work for them.

      Reply to Comment
      • Luis Dizon

        But that assumes that all Palestinians are Islamists, which is obviously not the case.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Tomer

      The best thing will be for the so-called fakestinyans to admit that:

      1. Their fake state was never a monarchy nor a republic.

      2. Their false state never had a currency that ever printed anywhere.

      3. Their joke state never had a constitution.

      4. Their nonsense state never had any borders.

      5. Their phantom state never had an official religion.

      The Jordanians who started and lost the 6 day war ARE JUST THAT. The sooner they admit it, the better.

      Reply to Comment
      • fisherman

        Tomer,

        You need to Google “Palestinian currency”to see what it looks like.

        As for Jordan starting the 1967 war, Menahem Begin had the following remarks to make: ‘In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.’“ Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

        “Moshe Dayan, the celebrated commander who, as Defense Minister in 1967, gave the order to conquer the Golan…[said] many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the Government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for the farmland…[Dayan stated] ‘They didn’t even try to hide their greed for the land…We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Bar

      “Over the past two decades, Israel has dictated the terms of negotiations to both the Palestinians and the Americans: it must be done in bilateral channels, and aside from the Israelis and Palestinians, only the United States can take part in the process as a facilitator.”

      Perhaps the Israelis should let Saudi Arabia do it? How about France? They like to free terrorists to prevent future attacks on their soil. How about Russia? They have no political stakes in the game. Perhaps Venezuela? They’re extraordinarily friendly…to Iran.

      “This has resulted in distorted power dynamics in the negotiation room: the Palestinians have nothing to offer,”

      Other than peace and “end of conflict” through acceptance of Israel as the embodiment of the Jewish national home.

      In other words, the Palestinians hold the key to enabling peace but according to Mr. Baruch, this is “nothing to offer.” IT IS EVERYTHING.

      “…while the Netanyahu government isn’t interested in the “two states for two peoples” solution based on 1967 borders.”

      It isn’t interested in being taken for a ride like Barak, Olmert and Obama. If a credible Palestinian offer was placed on the table or, alternatively, they accepted the very realistic Israeli offers that had been extended in the past 14 years, then I doubt there would be any Israeli government that would or could refuse such a deal. It is what Israelis want.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Please define “credible.”

        “’67 lines with swaps, East Jerusalem (in confederation or some workable arrangement), no ROR except some small symbolic amounts”

        — is that basically credible? Or incredible?

        There are lots and lots of details, I know, but is any of the above a deal killer–i.e., incredible?

        I know its incredible to Tomer. And you?

        Just want to know what ballpark we are playing in here.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Blah blah blah.

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            I knew it! You talk–blah blah blah–about “credible” deals you long to see, but when someone hands any of you folks a pencil and says, ok, draw me some borders, suddenly you develop a strange paralysis of the writing hand. You show you’re not even inside the ballpark but you complain that Abu Mazen isn’t coming to play.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Dude, we’re done talking. Go speak to your friends.

            Reply to Comment
    6. piros

      Open your eyes and face the facts, Tomer: there are six million Palestinian Arabs living in the territory that spans from the West Bank of the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea. What do you suggest should be done with them? They can’t blend in the Israeli society (one-state solution) because that would put an end to the «Jewish character» of the state. They can’t be forced out of the land because they were born there and that’s the only homeland they have. Israel rejects the idea of a two-state solution,because it would imply giving away Judea and Samaria, regarded as Jewish land. There is always The Final Solution to The Palestinian Question. Does the figure «six million people» ring a bell?
      y

      Reply to Comment
      • Peter Hindrup

        ‘They can’t blend in the Israeli society (one-state solution) because that would put an end to the «Jewish character» of the state.’ So what? Israel squats upon Palestinian land.

        ‘There is always The Final Solution to The Palestinian Question. Does the figure «six million people» ring a bell?’

        Yep, there are approximately 6 million Israeli Jews. sounds good. and this time it would actually be a more or less genuine number!

        Reply to Comment
    7. Tomer

      The Sunni Moslem Arabi speaking people can sod off back to Jordan – where they belong.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Ken

      Tomer, how about a suggestion rooted somewhere in reality, not a wacko fantasy about sending the Palestinians to Jordan? That’s not going to happen as you must know. So do you want a one state solution with a majority non-Jewish population? And will they get to vote or will they be some kind of non-citizen class? Or do you favor perpetuation of the current simmering conflict and instability?

      What is your proposal?

      Reply to Comment
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