Defeat at the UN

The Palestinian bid for unilateral recognition of its Statehood was defeated by a vote in the Security Council of 8 to 2 with 5 abstentions.    The fact that they failed to reach a majority of 9 votes by one vote meant that the resolution was not passed and the US, which voted against, did not need to use its veto.   Jordan presented the Palestinian resolution and the obvious culprits voted for the resolution, namely Russia and China, joined by Argentina, Chile and Chad.  But, two European countries also voted for the resolution, namely France and Luxembourg.  The vote of France was unexpected since they had proposed their own resolution that differed from the Jordanian/ Palestinian version but was rejected by them.  Australia joined the US in voting against and the UK, Rwanda, South Korea and Lithuania abstained.  The last minute switch of Nigeria that was expected to vote for the resolution, but responded to strong US and Israeli persuasion, and abstained, resulted in the Palestinian defeat.  This is a rare victory for Israel at the UN.

The argument against the resolution was that it allowed the Palestinians to avoid negotiations with Israel and by setting an artificial deadline for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank resulted in a potential clash not only between the Palestinians and Israel, but also with the UN.  The US and especially the Congress will not allow the UN to take over control of the Israel-Arab conflict, that could only be to the detriment of Israel and the US.

This defeat for the Palestinian strategy of unilateral diplomatic actions to avoid negotiations with Israel is only a temporary set-back.  Today, one day after the vote, Pres. Abbas announced that the PA will apply to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, which is a body supposedly only for sovereign states to be members.  He also announced that if they are successful in being accepted they will bring war crime charges against Israeli leaders.  In response PM Netanyahu said that this was just sour grapes from the Palestinians in the wake of their defeat and that the Palestinians, particularly Hamas, have more to fear from the ICC than Israel does.  The US also lambasted Abbas for this decision, since they are on record as opposing the use of the ICC for narrow political objectives.  They said that these maneuvers will not bring a Palestine State any closer and will not improve the chances for peace.

The SC membership, apart from the 5 permanent members (US, UK, France, China and Russia) are changed periodically, and the upcoming members are anticipated to be more sympathetic to the Palestine statehood bid, particularly since it failed by only one vote.  Nevertheless, the threat of a US veto may deter the Palestinians from trying again soon.  Some see this as an inevitable process, but Israel also has options in response that may further deter Palestinian actions.

 

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