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The United Nations: A crisis of legitimacy

The United Nations, in hastily tabling resolution 2334 before the Security Council, condemning Israeli settlements, now faces a genuine crisis of legitimacy. The decision by Obama not to veto the Egyptian-sponsored resolution was a crafty move by him that would be free of any political repercussions during his final days in office. For his successor Trump, the resolution will arouse vexation, as was no doubt Obama’s intent.

The anti-Israel resolution was cynically supported by China and Russia. These countries voted against UN resolutions over and over again that sought to put an end to al-Assad’s rampage against Syrian civilians. Seven such vetoes benefitted al-Assad.

Because of Russian and Chinese vetoes, resolutions were shot down that would have saved the lives of thousands of women and children in Syria. Their support of the contemptible Syrian dictator gave him a clear signal that he could pulverize the Syrian city of Aleppo to the ground, unopposed.

These countries then had the fides punica to vote in favour of a resolution against Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Friends of the Syrian dictator al-Assad finger-pointing at a democratically-elected government in Israel while turning the other way when barrel bombs are indiscriminately dropped on hospitals is an act of moral degeneracy. Those who are cheered by this maneuvering seemingly are not bothered by China’s occupation of Tibet, or Russia’s thuggery in its annexation of Crimea, or even its incursions in Ukraine.

Opponents of Israel will now gloat over Obama’s Judas moment. The incoming US administration will be boxed in by the Security Council resolution, made possible by Obama’s decision to abstain from the hastily-tabled vote. However, the resolution passed on Dec. 23, 2016 does not have the force of law. A unanimous vote in the U.S. House and Senate in May, 1922 does, however have the force of law after being signed by then-US president Warren Harding. This statement, known as the Lodge-Fish resolution, expressed unwavering support for a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland.

Those who drafted the resolution about West Bank settlements are not blameless. In 1967, Arab countries surrounding Israel were baying for a military showdown. Nasser, the Egyptian strongman, had instigated a blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba, a move that was described as belligerent. In Syria, a war with Israel was welcomed. King Hussein of Jordan hosted close to three-fourths of a million Palestinians on Jordanian land in the West Bank. The King, along with other regional allies, was on a war footing and an article of June 5, 1967 describes the mood of Palestinians as follows: “for them, war against the Israelis is an opportunity for revenge and redemption: a chance to go back to the homes many remember abandoning 19 years ago.”

Dana Schmidt, writing in the New York Times, reported that King Hussein had entered into a defense pact with Egypt’s Nasser and that Jordan was hosting the PLO. When Nasser’s army amassed at the Israeli border and his air-force penetrated Israeli airspace, the Israeli government did what any vigilant nation would do. If Russian fighter jets planes penetrated Canadian airspace would Canada be expected not to react? On June 5, 1967 Israeli forces taught Nasser a lesson. His desire to wipe Israel off the map was supported by the Jordanian King, who, together with the-then Syrian government, wanted Israel obliterated. The Palestinians who the New York Times reported as “welcoming war” should have been careful what they wished for.

The West Bank is occupied today because of the belligerence of Nasser and his counterparts who refused to accept the existence of a Jewish state. The sophistry of Egypt in promoting the anti-Israel resolution at the UN obscures the fact that the West Bank was legitimately seized by Israel as a direct result of Egyptian aggression and that of its allies. The Six Day War of 1967 took place because hostile neighbouring states wanted revenge, not negotiations. The UN Security Council resolution of Dec. 23, 2016 will be touted as a symbolic victory by those aligned with dictatorial regimes whose leaders are complicit with crimes against humanity. Perhaps they should explain to a surviving Syrian child of al-Assad’s crimes that it wasn’t possible to end their suffering, because slamming the Israeli government was a higher priority.


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