23 December 2016 will be marked as a day when a voice for peace and justice rang around the world – though this voice is largely symbolic, it at least recognizes the evils of a demented regime bent on genocide, murder, and destruction. It is a voice of morality in an otherwise immoral international system.
14 members of the UN Security Council voted in favor of a resolution which demands that Israel ‘immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem’ and said the establishment of settlements by Israel has ‘no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law’ – French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said the ‘key goal’ of the resolution was ‘to preserve and reaffirm the two-state solution’. The resolution addresses the illegal, barbaric, and violent activities of a reprehensible policy which would not be tolerated in any other case.
One nation abstained from this otherwise unanimous vote – the United States.
The United States abstained from the vote, allowing the measure to pass by a vote of 14 in favor in the 15-member council. The resolution had been put forward for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal – one day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump.
Amid widespread international support to work toward bringing an end to the controversial policy of building settlements, the resolution is reportedly near-impossible for the Trump administration to reverse. While the resolution does not call for imposing sanctions on Israel if it fails to comply, it could significantly weaken Israel’s lobbying and negotiating power in future peace talks.
Settlement construction in the West Bank has skyrocketed since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office in 2009, with 15,000 additional Israeli Jewish settlers moving into homes on the West Bank in 2016 alone.
While not voting for or against the resolution, the Obama White House chose to take a neutral stance on the issue. This is a major break in the long-standing posture of past presidents who routinely vetoed every other Security Council measure (and there have been many) which addressed the ongoing inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people and the unprovoked violence done by Israel against its neighbors. President Obama has held to the rational thinking that the illegal settlements have been a major sticking point in going forward in a peaceful solution of the Palestinian/Israel conflict. His decision to instruct the US ambassador to the UN to abstain in this vote is perhaps the most profoundly meaningful act in his promise of ‘hope and change’ – unfortunately it comes at the end of his term of office.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said following the vote that “Today the Security Council reaffirmed its established consensus that the settlements have no legal validity.”
She noted Barak Obama has been the only U.S. president since 1967 during whose tenure a UN Security Council resolution on settlements hasn’t (sic) been passed.
She said that because (sic) the U.S. didn’t veto the resolution because it reflects facts on the ground and is consistent with U.S. policy.
As noted in the Deutsche Welle report, Egypt withdrew from the resolution process after pressure from Israel and president-elect Trump who intervened in the last moments leading to the vote. Israel had been accusing the Obama White House of ‘orchestrating’ the resolution causing the White House to declare:
‘To be clear: from the start, this was an Egyptian resolution. The Egyptians authored it, circulated it, and submitted it for a vote on Wednesday evening before asking for a delay and subsequently removing their sponsorship,’ the official said in a statement. ‘A group of other Security Council members, not including the United States, is now moving forward the Egyptian text.’
The official went on: ‘Contrary to some claims, the administration was not involved in formulating the resolution nor have we promoted it. We have not communicated to any U.N. Security Council members how the United States would vote if the resolution comes before the U.N. Security Council.’
What is most telling about the process to this resolution is the role Donald Trump played in it. Trump has been an outspoken supporter of the illegal settlements – in an exclusive interview with the UK Daily Mail posted on 3 May 2016, he stated without hesitation that Israel should ‘keep going’.
Asked whether there should be a pause in new construction – which the Obama administration has pressured Netanyahu’s government to observe in order to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table – Trump responded: ‘No, I don’t think it is, because I think Israel should have – they really have to keep going. They have to keep moving forward.’
‘No, I don’t think there should be a pause,’ Trump said. ‘Look: Missiles were launched into Israel, and Israel, I think, never was properly treated by our country. I mean, do you know what that is, how devastating that is?’
Already in May of 2016 Trump was presenting himself as Israel’s lap dog on the issue. Either Trump is pathetically stupid on the facts of the conflict or simply and horribly disingenuous. What person with any intelligent knowledge of this conflict and/or the history of US/Israeli relations could possibly state that Israel ‘never was properly treated by our country’…? One could argue that the proper treatment of this terrorist state by the US would involve defunding the billions of taxpayer’s dollars per year surrendered to the terrorist state and the condemnation of their crimes against humanity and their blatant disregard for international law – but that isn’t what is meant in Trump’s ridiculously ignorant point.
Mondoweiss reports the credible data regarding the number of Israeli deaths from Palestinan rocket attacks between 2001 and 2014:
Fatalities from rocket and mortar attacks in Israel from the Gaza Strip, 2001–present (up-to-date as of August 29, 2014)
Total fatalities in the history of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza into Israel: 44
Civilians: 30 (including 2 killed at military posts)
Rocket fatalities only: 23
Total fatality-producing strikes: 32 (19 rocket, 13 mortar)
Total rocket and mortar fatalities incurred in Israel during major Israeli “anti-rocket” military offensives: 27
The chart below illustrates the true nature of who is killing whom in Israel’s pogrom of Palestinian genocide – and this is only since the year 2000.
The organization If Americans Knew notes:
The numbers in this chart include civilians and combatants killed by members of the opposing nationality (and therefore, do not include Palestinians killed by an explosive device that they set or was on their person, Israelis killed in ‘friendly fire’ incidents, etc.). The numbers also do not include the sizable number of Palestinians who died as a result of inability to reach medical care due to Israeli road closures, curfews, the Israeli closure of border crossing from Gaza, etc.
The figure for Palestinian deaths is extremely conservative, since it is difficult for B’Tselem to report on deaths in the Palestinian territories. The Palestine Red Crescent Society, internationally respected for its statistical rigor, reports significantly higher numbers of Palestinian deaths. We do not doubt the reliability of their data, and only use B’Tselem’s more conservative numbers because they collect data on both populations.
For Trump to insinuate that Israel is some sort of sadly threatened victim of the Palestinians is beyond laughable – it’s actually reprehensible. Israel has the most advanced military weaponry and aircraft in all of the Middle East – thanks to US largess. The Palestinians have no defined military or air force to speak of. In a 2014 post entitled, Gaza’s Bottle Rockets: Why Hamas’ Arsenal Wasn’t Worth a War, Norman G. Finkelstein notes:
‘…a closer examination of Hamas’ military capabilities and goals reveals a very different picture. Most of Hamas’ arsenal is comprised of homemade rockets that are decidedly incapable of inflicting mass civilian casualties, flattening apartment blocks, or causing conflagrations that consume entire cities. “Hamas’ rockets can kill people and they have,” a counter-intelligence veteran of the U.S. CIA who spent his career monitoring Israeli and Palestinian military capabilities told me recently, “but compared to what the Israelis are using, the Palestinians are firing bottle rockets.” Far from justifying the ground campaign in Gaza, the nature of Hamas’ arsenal makes Israel’s ongoing military operation entirely counterproductive.’
‘But even though Gaza has thousands of rockets, a large number of which can reach central Israel, Hamas’ arsenal poses only a negligible threat to Israel’s population. The vast majority of Hamas’ rockets are unsophisticated Qassam types that are manufactured in Gaza in primitive metal workshops filled with lathes and simple tools. Although these rockets are capable of carrying a warhead weighing 10–20 kg (22–44 pounds), they have no guidance system and contain only a modest propulsion unit.’
The video below gives a little lesson about Qassam type rockets:
Trump’s fealty to Israel, and his already demonstrated willingness to browbeat and coerce other nations (i.e. Egypt) in the name of the rogue state, is a sign of things to come.
Those who believe in peace and justice have this one day to smile – a day when an international group of conscientious people together said ‘no’ to brutality and hate and ‘yes’ to international law and a respect of a people’s right to exist. The UN Security Council’s resolution will be remembered in history as a good day for the international community – Donald Trump’s role will be remembered as a disrespectful act which sought to undermine a sitting president’s attempt at ‘making America great again’ in the eyes of the world who look to the United States as a beacon of hope for peace and justice.