Another Case Reflecting the Anti-Israel Culture of the UN
The purpose of the United Nations, as set forth in Chapter I, Article 1, is to “maintain international peace and security.” Under the provisions of Chapter V, Article 24 the Members of the United Nations conferred “on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
As we review the world situation at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 and try to determine where international peace and security are most seriously threatened, it is clear that we need to focus on the Middle East. Death and destruction threaten millions of people in Syria and Iraq. But we do not find the Security Council seriously engaged there. It focuses once again on Israel, the favorite whipping boy of the UN system. So, on December 23, 2016 it adopted another anti-Israel resolution, which not only fails to advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but makes the attainment of peace more difficult.
The Need to Resolve the Israeli/Palestinian Dispute
The fact that the Israeli/Palestinian dispute is not one of the international disputes that has a very large number of casualties, that Israel is largely successful in protecting itself against terrorism, does not mean that that dispute does not deserve attention. Efforts should be undertaken to resolve it in a manner that is fair to both parties. Regrettably, Resolution 2334, living up to the post-1975 anti-Israel tradition of the United Nations, is utterly unfair to Israel. The wording of Res. 2334 is so supportive of the Palestinian position that no government of Israel can ever accept it. On the other hand, how can the Palestinian Authority negotiators accept a peace agreement that would give them less than what the UN Security Council has suggested?
The Settlements Issue
The basic theme of Res. 2334, the theme that has received the greatest amount of public attention, is to register UNSC opposition to Israeli settlements east of the demarcation lines agreed to in the armistice between Israel and Jordan in April 1949. That these are not to be viewed as the permanent borders was made clear in UNSC Res. 242 of 1967, which called for the drawing of “secure boundaries free from threats or acts of force” and provided quite deliberately for a peace in which Israel would withdraw from occupied territory, but not all the occupied territory. The United States, which was heavily engaged in the drafting of UNSC Res. 242, never recognized the 1949 armistice demarcation lines at the final border between Israel and neighboring Arab states. The “Clinton Parameters” of 2000 made that position quite clear as did President Obama’s reference to a peace agreement based on the demarcation lines “with swaps.”
It is worth noting that Res. 2334 provides in its first preambular paragraph that the Security Council reaffirms Res. 242 of 1967, but that did not stop the Council members of 2016 to use language in other paragraphs of Res. 2334 that ignores the basic principle of ”secure boundaries” set forth in Res. 242. These other paragraphs also contain findings on issues of law that simply ratify the arguments advanced by the Palestinian side. It is clear that the Israeli side was not given the opportunity to present its side of the case, nor is there any evidence that the Security Council took the trouble to engage in a serious study of the relevant law.
Thus while acting under Chapter VI and recommending negotiations, Res. 2334, by siding with the Palestinians on issues in controversy, has made agreement on where the boundary line is to be drawn much more difficult.
The Palestinian Authority’s Actual Objective: An End to the State of Israel
Anyone reading the text of Res. 2334 may very well ask how this text was put together. While the answer to this question cannot be expected to be officially disclosed, there have been enough news stories that have indicated quite clearly what transpired. It is reasonable to assume that we are dealing with a draft prepared by the Palestinian Authority. We can further assume that the initial draft was modified after its authors received advice on changes that need to be made to avoid a U.S. veto.
What could have been the purpose of the Palestinian Authority, which has refused to enter into bilateral negotiations, in drafting this proposed text? A thorough analysis of the text makes it clear that the Palestinian Authority used this text to get its demands approved by the UN Security Council, demands whose ultimate goal it is to establish an Arab state “from the River to the Sea” and to end the existence of the State of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority knows very well that Israel will not agree to a two-state solution based on the 1949 armistice demarcation lines. But the fact is that the PA is not interested in a two-state solution. It has rejected such solutions when they were offered and is not prepared to negotiate for a truly lasting two-state solution. Close to fifty years have passed since the Six-Day War of 1967, in which Israel responded to military attacks from its neighbors and in doing so, occupied the territory that remains in controversy. Numerous Israeli offers have been made for the conclusion of a peace agreement. But, a far as the PA is concerned, the response is still what it was in 1967, the “Three No’s of Khartoum”: No peace with Israel, No negotiations with Israel, No recognition of Israel.
To be sure, Res. 2334 is a recommendation for a negotiated settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, but it does not recommend bilateral negotiations. Operative Paragraph 9 provides “for the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions,… and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing effort to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the recent efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation.” An effort has here been undertaken, not only to discourage bilateral negotiations, but also to remove the United Nations from the negotiating process and thereby ending the possibility of a United States veto of peace terms proposed by the international negotiators.
Special attention needs to be paid to the Arab Peace Initiative. What almost all of the ambassadors who cast votes on Res. 2334 were most likely not aware of was that their recommendation for a peace agreement contains a reference to a document which calls for the mass migration to Israel of millions of persons of Palestinian ancestry.
The key provision of Res. 2334, contained in paragraph 9, suggests that the Arab Peace Initiative serve as a basis for peace negotiations. The Initiative, first advanced by then Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, was indeed designed to arrange for peace between the Arab states an Israel. However, when the document was put before the Arab Summit in Beirut in March 2002, the Lebanese and Syrian delegations insisted on an amendment which includes the following key provisions: (a) “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194,” and (b) “assure the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.” The term “Arab Peace Initiative” sounds most encouraging. Sadly, its objective was undercut by the Beirut Summit amendment.
We are here confronting the major obstacle to an Israeli/Palestinian peace: the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to agree to a lasting existence of a majority Jewish state, the insistence on the “right of return,” the mass migration to Israel of more than 5,000,000 residents of the Middle East of Palestinian descent. The Palestinian Authority insists that UNGA Res. 194 grants them that right. By sneaking references to Res. 194 and the Arab Peace Initiative into various international resolutions, the Palestinian Authority seeks to gain recognition for the claim of a “right of return” without those voting for such a text having any notion of how the Authority has interpreted the Res. 194 or the Beirut amendments to the Arab Peace Initiative. Here they have succeeded in getting a reference to what they claim grants them the “right of return” into a UNSC resolution.
Thus, the three No’s of Khartoum are still in effect. Hamas seeks to attain its goal, the end of the State of Israel, through force. Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority, seeks to attain it through the UN, with the mass migration to Israel of the people of Palestinian descent who are now on the UNRWA rolls. Getting the UN Security Council to approve Resolution 2334 is another successful move by Fatah to advance the cause of a Palestinian state “from the River to the Sea”.