July 13, 2024
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Shock! 13 Nations Support Israel at UN

On September 22, 2016, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the UN General Assembly and said that he had a message that would shock the audience: “Israel has a bright future at the UN.”

“So when it comes to Israel at the UN, you’d probably think nothing will ever change, right?” he told the delegates. “Well, think again. You see, everything will change and a lot sooner than you think. The change will happen in this hall, because back home your governments are rapidly changing their attitudes towards Israel. And sooner or later, that’s going to change the way you vote on Israel at the UN.”

This week, the beginnings of that change—according to Israeli officials—could be felt. Eleven EU countries, plus Latin American powers Brazil and Colombia, voted for the first time against a resolution that has passed every year since 1977 mandating a special “Division for Palestinian Rights” inside the UN Secretariat devoted to promoting the Palestinian narrative against Israel.

The resolution still passed by a whopping 87-23, with 54 abstentions. But what was significant is that 11 EU countries that abstained in the past, this year joined Hungary—which broke ranks with the EU last year—and voted against the resolution.

The countries that voted against the resolution were: Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia. Two EU countries voted for the resolution: Malta and, surprisingly, Cyprus, and the remaining 14 abstained, among them France, the UK and Italy.

“I am pleased that a significant group of countries has decided today to make heard a clear moral stance against discrimination toward Israel at the UN,” Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said in a statement. “This is an important step in the long struggle against the bias toward Israel at the UN. What particularly stands out is the change in the position of several European Union states, and I hope that the remaining EU members will adopt this position soon.”

Yinam Cohen, the director of the UN Political Affairs Department at the Foreign Ministry, said that the voting “marks a significant first step in the long way to change the bias against Israel in the UN.”

According to Cohen, “For the first time, a major group of countries, many of which are EU member states, said enough is enough, and voted against a resolution that allocates UN budget and human resources to promote an anti-Israel agenda in the UN.”

Cohen attributed the change to three main developments.

The first was a decision made by Germany in May to fight the anti-Israel bias at the UN. That decision was announced in a statement by Foreign Minister Heiko Mass marking 70 years to Israel’s membership in the world body.

“The Federal Government would like to take this 70th anniversary as an opportunity to reiterate the fact that Germany stands at Israel’s side in the UN,” the statement read, adding that “Germany’s historic responsibility for the Jewish and democratic State of Israel and its security is part of our raison d’être.”

The statement continued that Germany pledged to “oppose any unfair treatment of Israel in the UN and to support its legitimate interests.” Germany is a non-permanent member of the 15-seat council and will remain so until the end of 2020.

The second factor, Cohen said, was the work of the Czech Republic, which has played a “very positive role” inside the EU forums to generate change regarding their voting patterns on Israel at the UN.

In addition, he said the Foreign Ministry worked hard through the embassy in the UN and in embassies around the world—“reaching out to the highest authorities” in various countries—pushing for a vote change on this resolution.

The resolution mandating a “Division for Palestinian Rights” is just one of a package of 20 annual anti-Israel resolutions that have passed in the UN General Assembly since the 1970s.

By contrast, there is only one General Assembly resolution at the UN dealing with Syria, one with Venezuela, and two dealing with the Russian-Ukranian situation.

Every year the anti-Israel resolutions, written by the Palestinians and the Arab countries, are brought to the EU before they are presented to the General Assembly. The EU then generally changes a couple of phrases and then tends to vote for them.

This is true of the 17 declarative resolutions in the 20-resolution package. Another three resolutions are not merely declarative, but actually set up organizations that have staffs and budgets—the Division of Palestinians inside the Secretariat being one of those.

The EU has always, according to Israeli officials, recognized that there is a very serious bias in the existence of those three bodies, but—with the exception of Hungary—the EU countries never voted against the resolutions in the past, only abstained.

Israeli officials noted that in the UN the status-quo is “sacred,” and the status quo has been that these resolutions are passed easily, with no EU objections. Tuesday’s vote was a sign that the status quo is beginning to change.

While the annual package of UN resolutions has not fundamentally changed anything on the ground, the resolutions do have an accumulative impact in that they shape the perception of Israel within the UN. Israel wants to be treated equally in the UN along with the other 193 countries, but the fact that there are so many resolutions against the Jewish state effectively sets the country apart in the world body.

It also puts Israel on the defensive, with its representatives forced to spend so much time trying to defend against the negative resolutions that they are unable to push forward a positive agenda.

As one official in Jerusalem dealing with the UN once put it: “We want to be seen as a normal country, but as long as these resolutions pass each year, we will not be a normal country”—at least not in the UN.

By JPost.com

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