by John Weckerle
Yesterday, the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council adopted Resolution 2334 (2016), calling for an end to Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory in accordance with past agreements and resolutions. Reactions to the resolution have been swift, prolific, and predictable, with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan declaring it “a blow to peace” and the government of Israel decrying it as “shameful.” As reported by MSN here, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has threatened a reduction or suspension of payments to the U.N. and potential retaliation against members who supported the resolution.
Rather than wait for the alt-right blosphere/twitterverse to erupt and then challenge the rantings, we decided to take a direct look at the actual text of the resolution itself. The text of the resolution is included in this announcement on the U.N. website.
The resolution begins by reaffirming eleven prior resolutions stretching back to 1967 and proceeds to reaffirm Israel’s responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention (Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, August 12, 1949). It condemns “all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.” The resolution directly references the Quartet Performance-based Roadmap to a Permanent Two State Solution (2003), which, among many other provisions, specifies a freeze on all settlement activities.
The resolution states that the U.N. Security Council “Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;” and “Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard.” It calls for immediate steps to prevent violence against citizens, including terrorist acts, and calls upon both parties (Israel and the Palestinians) observe international law and refrain from provocative actions. The resolution further calls upon the international and regional communities to intensify and accelerate efforts to achieve “without delay, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
There are a few things to consider with respect to the resolution. First, it contains no provisions for sanctions whatsoever. Second, as reported in the MSN article, it has been U.S. policy since the days of the Reagan Administration to oppose the establishment of these settlements. Third, the United States did not vote for the resolution, but simply abstained – effectively declining to veto it.
It is unclear why the expectation seems to be that we would veto it. Israel has been been establishing these settlements and does not deny it, and these settlements are contrary to U.S. policy and international agreements to which Israel is a party. As an ally, Israel has reason to expect U.S. support in the event of a military attack, but it seems a little absurd to suggest that we should extend that support to protecting Israel from criticism regarding acts that are counter to our established policy and international accords. It is, perhaps, time for Israel to stand up for itself and its actions rather than have the U.S. do it for them, and to recognize that the U.S. is the only member of the Security Council not to vote directly in favor of the resolution.
We see nothing untrue or inappropriate in the resolution (and, in the end, very little if anything that could directly harm Israel), and the logic behind the outraged reaction to it is unclear. We suspect that it is more partisan or ideological in nature than substantive. As always, we suggest that people read the full text (rather than, or in addition to, stories about it) before reacting to it, or reposting/retweeting others’ opinions on the subject.