AJIRI #60: The UN’s Key Role in the Effort to Destroy the State of Israel

October 2018

What is generally understood is that Hamas is committed to the destruction of the Jewish State by force. What is generally notunderstood is that the so-called “moderate” Palestinian leadership, stemming from the Fatah movement, has the same ultimate goal, an end to the State of Israel, to be attained through the “right of return.” What is also not generally understood is that the reason why these “moderate” leaders continue, after 70 years, to refuse to enter into meaningful peace negotiations is that the UN has provided full support for the effort to destroy the majority-Jewish state.

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AJIRI #59: At Long Last: Recognition of West Jerusalem as Part of Israel and as Israel’s Capital

December 2017

The True Meaning of the White House Statement
On December 6, 2017, the White House released a statement on Jerusalem that had two principal features: (1) It noted that the government of Israel has been located in Jerusalem, its capital, for the past 70 years and that the United States would now recognize that fact.  (2) It also made clear that such recognition did not mean that the United States was “taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.”
In other words, nothing contained in President Trump’s statement suggested that he intended to make a change in the U.S. position regarding the status of any part of Jerusalem outside of West Jerusalem.  The statement did no more than confirm, at long last, that West Jerusalem was part of Israel.

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Jerusalem, Capital of Israel

Illustration on Jerusalem by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Illustration on Jerusalem by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

– – Sunday, December 24, 2017


The current debate over Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the aftermath of President Trump’s decision to recognize it as such, is sorely lacking in historical context.

In 1947, after Great Britain announced its intent to relinquish its mandate over Palestine (which dated from 1917), the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) was formed to investigate and recommend a fair disposition for the territory, claimed by Jews and Arabs. The result was the U.N.Partition Resolution of Nov. 29, 1947, which recommended the division of Mandatory Palestine into three entities. To start, an Arab and a Jewish state were to be established. But the partition resolution went on to provide a special dispensation for the city of Jerusalem:

“The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum (separate body) under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The Trusteeship Council shall be designated to discharge the responsibilities of the Administering Authority on behalf of the United Nations.”

When the Arab states refused to accept the concept of the creation of a Jewish state and the British were about to end their engagement in the Mandate area, the Jewish Agency for Palestine established the State of Israel in May 1948. Overruling Secretary of State Marshall, President Truman decided to recognize the State of Israel within days following the establishment of the state.

Israel was immediately attacked by the neighboring Arab states, but won the war. The war came to an end in 1949 with the conclusion of armistice agreements between Israel and the Arab states which had attacked it. The armistice agreement concluded between Israel and Transjordan (now Jordan) resulted in the drawing of demarcation lines that allocated more land to Israel than had been recommended in UNGA Res. 181, including West Jerusalem.

After Israel had moved its capital to West Jerusalem, the State Department agreed to acceptance of the boundaries that enlarged Israel, except for the inclusion of West Jerusalem. It wanted to pursue the effort to establish the third entity recommended in the UNGA resolution: Jerusalem as a corpus separatum. It urged that the U.S. not recognize West Jerusalem as part of Israel and not establish a U.S. Embassy there. The White House did not disagree with that recommendation.

In the years immediately following Israel’s war of independence, efforts were indeed undertaken by U.N.entities to establish Jerusalem as a corpus separatum. But the Arab states as well as Israel were opposed. By 1954 it was clear that the proposed third entity would not be established.

The idea had been overtaken by events. The city remained divided: West Jerusalem as part of Israel, East Jerusalem as part of Jordan. Efforts to create the corpus separatum were given up and West Jerusalemwas indeed considered part of Israel. U.S. Embassy personnel stationed in Tel Aviv would travel consistently to West Jerusalem for contact with the appropriate Israeli government agencies.

At that point it would have been logically and legally appropriate to recognize West Jerusalem as part of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy there. But the Eisenhower administration, with John Foster Dulles as secretary of State, was greatly concerned about Soviet penetration of the Arab world and wanted to avoid a step that would antagonize the Arab states.It is thus the Cold War situation in 1954 that caused the United States to create an exception in the case of Israel to its worldwide policy regarding the location of U.S. Embassies, by maintaining an embassy in a city other than the country’s declared capital.

Thus the policy that has been followed for the past 63 years was based on the Cold War concerns of 1954 — now obviously no longer relevant. As the years passed, the original reason for this glaring anomaly appears to have been forgotten.

It is also worth noting in this context that in 1974 the United States established diplomatic relations with the German Democratic Republic (Communist East Germany). The German Democratic Republic (GDR), had been established in 1949 under the auspices of the Soviet Union. It consisted of what had been the Soviet Zone of Occupation of Germany and the Soviet Sector of Berlin.

Under an agreement reached between the Soviet Union and the Western powers, France, the U.K. and the U.S. in 1945, decisions regarding Berlin were to be made by consensus of the four occupying powers. The Western powers had not agreed to the incorporation of East Berlin into the GDR, but it was nevertheless incorporated into the GDR and was established as the capital of East Germany. When, in 1974, the U.S. established diplomatic relations with the GDR, the U.S. Embassy to the GDR was located in East Berlin, the capital of the GDR, even though we did not recognize East Berlin as a part of the GDR.

Mr. Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was a recognition of fact, and the carrying out of a congressional mandate dating back to 1995 (not to mention the fulfillment of a campaign promise). The act of recognition does not determine what the ultimate boundaries of Jerusalem will be. It means simply that the United States recognizes that West Jerusalem is part of Israel. That reality has simply not been understood by those who have raised hackles and protests in Europe, in the Middle East, and elsewhere (though apparently not as much as had been feared).

What needs to be understood is that Mr. Trump’s action is not a special favor granted to the State of Israel. It is a matter of ending a policy of discriminating against the State of Israel, which has been the only country worldwide in which the U.S. Embassy is located in a city other than the country’s capital.

Richard Schifter, former deputy U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, is founder and chairman of the board of the American Jewish International Relations Institute.

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UN Anti-Israel Club

How to fix the UN’s anti-Israel club of dictators

How to fix the UN’s anti-Israel club of dictators

Forget about college basketball. It was March Madness this week at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). This is a bracket where human rights abusers like China, Cuba, Pakistan, and Venezuela always advance to the next round unscathed while Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is sure to lose.

The UN created the Council in 2006 after abolishing its predecessor, partly for its anti-Israel bias.

The UNHRC has fared no better. Following two separate Hamas-Israel wars, the Council initiated commissions of inquiry that effectively presumed Israeli guilt. Similarly, the UNHRC’s special rapporteurs for “human rights in the Palestinian territories” have a mandate to investigate only “Israel’s violations,” to the exclusion of those perpetrated by Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority allegedly accused one of these rapporteurs, Richard Falk, of being a “partisan of Hamas.”

But, without a doubt, the most egregious manifestation of the UNHRC’s double standard for the Jewish state is its dedication of a standing agenda item to criticism of Israel.

Agenda Item Seven, the only standing item directed at a specific country, requires the examination of Israel’s human rights record at each of the Council’s three annual sessions. Most other issues of humanitarian concern are brought up under Agenda Item 4. Because of this skewed system, the Council has targeted Israel with more condemnatory country-specific resolutions than the rest of the world combined. When the Council voted on March 22-23, Israel was the target of censure in five separate resolutions, while flagrant human rights abusers North Korea (political prisons and crimes against humanity), Iran (funding terrorism and political prisoners) and Syria (mass atrocities and chemical weapons) only received four. Many other Council members with abysmal records of their own almost entirely avoided scrutiny.

There are signs, however, of a gathering backlash against such hypocrisy. Just last year, the UK announced that it was putting the UNHRC “on notice” for its abusive treatment of Israel, a call it reinforced this year. The last straw was the UNHRC’s criticism of Israel’s presence in the Golan Heights, coupled with its deafening silence on the Assad regime’s atrocities in Syria.

“Nowhere is the disproportionate focus on Israel starker and more absurd than in the case of today’s resolution on the occupation of Syria’s Golan,” read the UK statement.

Over the past few years, following America’s lead, most Western countries have refused to participate in the Agenda Item Seven debate, recognizing that it discriminates against Israel.

But the fouls against Israel continue nonetheless. In March 2016, the Council passed a resolution requesting that the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein of Jordan, “produce a database” of companies operating in Israeli-controlled areas. Potentially, the list may serve as an instruction manual for anti-Israel boycotts of Israel, and it will bear the United Nations’ imprimatur.

In January 2018, Prince Zeid released a report in which he said that 206 unnamed companies – 22 of which are American – have assisted Israel’s presence in the West Bank. The High Commissioner vowed to release the names at a later date and he has further set the stage for a boycott by releasing a report that falsely accuses Israeli settlements in the West Bank of constituting “war crimes.”

While treating Israel as a pariah, the Council recently offered a platform to Alireza Avaei, Iran’s Justice Minister, who has been sanctioned by the European Union for his role overseeing torture against pro-democracy dissidents. He and other serial human rights abusers scapegoat Israel, and ensure that the Council is so hyper-focused on the Jewish state that it cannot properly address humanitarian issues elsewhere.

As U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, the UNHRC has become a “haven for dictators.” Their outsized role at the UNHRC has undermined the Council’s legitimacy.

The need to reform the Human Rights Council is painfully obvious. The UN should have a permanent body dedicated to the investigation and condemnation of the atrocities that remain disturbingly common. Israel should certainly not be exempt from criticism. Yet for as long as some of the world’s worst human rights abusers hold positions on the Council, many of the most egregious human rights violations will languish in darkness.

The first step toward improving the Council is open voting for membership by the UN General Assembly, instead of secret ballots. This would force every country that votes for serial rights abusers to face a measure of public accountability.

Next, there should be safeguards to prevent noncompetitive elections within certain regional groupings, which usually redound the benefit of dictators.

There should also be some basic standard of respect for human rights as a prerequisite to UNHRC membership. Currently, 14 of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council received Freedom House’s worst ranking of “Not Free.”

Once it has a more respectable membership, the UNHRC should remove all of its anti-Israel laws and mandates, starting with Agenda Item Seven.

Unless these changes are made, the dictators club will continue to protect its own while bashing the only democratic state in the Middle East. That is madness.

David May is a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Prior to joining FDD, David was a senior research analyst at AIPAC where he focused on Israeli-Palestinian issues and the United Nations Follow David on Twitter @DavidSamuelMayand FDD @FDD.

Bold New UN Move?

A bold, common sense UN move for the Trump administration
© Getty Images

A bold, common sense UN move for the Trump administration