Haaretz: UN would have condemned Israel even if it decided to make Tel Aviv its capital

December 21, 2017

The official Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida depicts US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley as a vulture in this cartoon yesterday. The US is the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority in the world. Much of the Palestinian media is paid for with European government and NGO funds

 

AS MILLIONS OF YEMENIS ON BRINK OF DEATH, YEMEN REGIME LEADS THE WAY TO CONDEMN ISRAEL

[Notes below by Tom Gross]

This dispatch concerns yesterday’s UN vote against the US and Israel.

The vote was co-sponsored by the governments of Turkey (the world’s leading jailer of journalists, and a brutal oppressor of millions of Kurds and other minorities) and Yemen (where the world’s largest man-made humanitarian disaster is unfolding, with millions on the brink of death).

 

CNN GETS IT RIGHTS

It is worth watching this this short video broadcast earlier this evening by CNN’s Jake Tapper:

Tapper reiterates many of the points I, and others, have made about the UN over the years, for example, here:

* If the UN had integrity…

* The speakers were never meant to live and tell their stories

 

“THE UNITED STATES WILL REMEMBER THIS DAY”

The US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a speech ahead of the UN vote yesterday:

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.

America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that.”

(Full text further down this dispatch.)

 

BILLIONS OF AID MAY BE REPATRIATED TO HELP US CITIZENS

Nine of the top 10 governments receiving US aid (they collectively receive many billions of US taxpayers money every year) voted against the US yesterday:

Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia.

So far, the Trump administration has carried through with quite a number of its threats and pledges, so it seems possible, or even likely, that some of these governments’ aid packages may be reduced in future.

This is especially so since a number of these governments are themselves highly corrupt, and much US aid ends up being pocketed by government officials.

 

LESS OPPOSITION TO THE US ON ISRAEL THAN UNDER PAST PRESIDENTS

Despite the New York Times headlining in its “breaking news email” yesterday that the UN vote was a “stinging rebuke” to Trump, in fact less countries opposed the Israel/US position at the UN yesterday than has been the case under the Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies.

To take one example: In the UN General Assembly resolution on Jerusalem on December 1, 2000, 145 members voted to condemn Israeli moves in its capital, with only Israel’s lonely vote against, and just five abstentions, including the United States (under the Clinton administration).

In yesterday’s vote “only” 128 denied that Jerusalem was Israel’s capital, 9 said it was, 35 abstained, and many more didn’t even turn up.

 

EU SPLIT, DISAPPOINTMENT ABOUT UK IN WASHINGTON

Breaking with past votes, several European Union countries defied the French-British foreign office led anti-Israel European stance and refused to vote to condemn Israel and the US at yesterday’s vote.

Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Romania, Croatia and Poland did not join other EU countries in voting against Israel.

 

ARGENTINA, SEVERAL AFRICAN STATES, NO LONGER CONDEMN ISRAEL

Other countries that previously condemned Israel but refused to do so yesterday and instead abstained included Argentina, and a number of African and Caribbean countries (Israel still has rescue workers in Haiti). Togo voted with the US and Israel.

(For more on warming African ties with Israel, see:
African countries (including Muslim ones) significantly strengthen ties with Israel (& an amusing speech))

It has been noted by some commentators in Washington that Britain, which hopes to have particularly favorable ties with the US post-Brexit, voted against the US yesterday.

And some pro-Israel commentators in Britain said it probably would not have made a difference had Jeremy Corbyn been foreign secretary rather than Boris Johnson.

(It seems that British Prime Minister Theresa May may have been too weak/preoccupied to overrule the traditionally anti-Israel, and occasionally anti-Semitic -- item 13 here for example -- British Foreign Office.)

 

HAARETZ: THE UN WOULD HAVE CONDEMNED ISRAEL EVEN IF IT DECIDED TO MAKE TEL AVIV ITS CAPITAL

To my knowledge, the UN has never voted in the past about recognizing where a country’s capital should or should not be.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the UN a “house of lies” and added that “the State of Israel rejects this vote outright” and that “Jerusalem is our capital, we will continue to build there and additional embassies will move to Jerusalem.”

In any event, even the anti-Netanyahu, anti-Trump Israeli left-wing paper Haaretz noted that “the General Assembly would have voted in similar numbers for any anti-Israel resolution, even if it decided to make Tel Aviv or Crown Heights [in Brooklyn] its capital instead.”

 

CRITICISM IN INDIA

India didn’t abstain, but voted against the US.

There has been criticism by Indians of their government for this. The Times of India reports, for example, that BJP party MP Subramanian Swamy said India made “a huge mistake” and had voted against its national interest yesterday, because “Palestine has never supported India on the Kashmir question” while Israel “has stood with India always.”

He added that West Jerusalem belongs to Israel, so he sees nothing wrong with the US or India now moving their embassies there.

 

BAHRAIN BREAKS RANKS

Bahrain appears to be unhappy with the hardline attitude of the Palestinians and some Arab states on the Jerusalem issue.

The Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said that “it’s not helpful to pick a fight with the US over side issues while we together fight the clear and present danger of the Theo-Fascist Islamic Republic [of Iran].”

(For more on Bahrain, see past dispatches, including the most recent one about a Bahraini delegation visiting Israel this month. Second item here.)

 

FULL TEXT: NIKKI HALEY’S SPEECH AHEAD OF UN VOTE ON TRUMP’S RECOGNITION OF JERUSALEM

(December 21, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York)

Thank you, Mr. President.

To its shame, the United Nations has long been a hostile place for the state of Israel. Both the current and the previous Secretary-Generals have objected to the UN’s disproportionate focus on Israel. It’s a wrong that undermines the credibility of this institution, and that in turn is harmful for the entire world.

I’ve often wondered why, in the face of such hostility, Israel has chosen to remain a member of this body. And then I remember that Israel has chosen to remain in this institution because it’s important to stand up for yourself. Israel must stand up for its own survival as a nation; but it also stands up for the ideals of freedom and human dignity that the United Nations is supposed to be about.

Standing here today, being forced to defend sovereignty and the integrity of my country – the United States of America – many of the same thoughts have come to mind. The United States is by far the single largest contributor to the United Nations and its agencies. We do this, in part, in order to advance our values and our interests. When that happens, our participation in the UN produces great good for the world. Together we feed, clothe, and educate desperate people. We nurture and sustain fragile peace in conflict areas throughout the world. And we hold outlaw regimes accountable. We do this because it represents who we are. It is our American way.

But we’ll be honest with you. When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our good will is recognized and respected. When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the “privilege” of being disrespected.

In the case of the United States, we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege. Unlike in some UN member countries, the United States government is answerable to its people. As such, we have an obligation to acknowledge when our political and financial capital is being poorly spent.

We have an obligation to demand more for our investment. And if our investment fails, we have an obligation to spend our resources in more productive ways. Those are the thoughts that come to mind when we consider the resolution before us today.

The arguments about the President’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem have already been made. They are by now well known. The decision was in accordance to U.S. law dating back to 1995, and it’s position has been repeatedly endorsed by the American people ever since. The decision does not prejudge any final status issues, including Jerusalem’s boundaries. The decision does not preclude a two-state solution, if the parties agree to that. The decision does nothing to harm peace efforts. Rather, the President’s decision reflects the will of the American people and our right as a nation to choose the location of our embassy. There is no need to describe it further.

Instead, there is a larger point to make. The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.

America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that.

But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered.

 

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