UN passes resolution condemning Israel’s settlement construction
by James O’Neill*
Christmas Eve delivered a rare moment of international support for the Palestinian people and passed a resolution (2334) condemning the long-standing Israeli practice of progressively encroaching upon Palestinian land for the purposes of Israeli only settlements.
For the first time in the eight years of the Obama administration, the United States did not exercise its veto in the Security Council to protect Israel from condemnation by the Security Council.
The Council resolution was forthright. It condemned “all measures altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfers of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians in violation of international humanitarian law….”
The resolution reaffirmed that the Israeli settlements on Palestinian land “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” The Council saw the violations as a major obstacle to “the achievement of the two State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
The resolution was welcome on a number of fronts. First, as noted, it was passed without the United States exercising its customary veto in support of the Israeli government. This clearly came as a surprise to the Israeli government, and their spokesmen were quick to condemn the resolution as an “obstacle” to the two State solution.
The Israeli government manifestly has no intention of implementing a two State solution. No serious observer accepts the sincerity of the ritual obeisance made to that solution. After nearly 50 years the opportunity of demonstrating an actual commitment to any such intention has long passed.
Secondly, the Israeli government not only condemned the resolution, they announced that they had no intention of implementing it. This only served to confirm, if any confirmation were needed, that Israeli never had any intention of implementing a two State solution. Its defiance of the Security Council and of international law continues to mark it as one of the major international outlaws.
Israel has consistently thumbed its nose at its legal obligations as a State, including but not limited to, the attack on Egypt in 1956; its 20 year occupation of Southern Lebanon until Hezbollah forced its retreat; the continuing occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights since 1967 and recent steps on that territory to issue leases for oil and gas exploration (to a company linked to News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch); the assassination of Iranian scientists; and the blockade of Gaza.
The resolution was flawed however, in maintaining the fiction that a two State solution was desirable or even possible. What little land left on the West Bank and in Gaza could not realistically form the basis of an independent viable State.
The irony of the situation is that it is the actions of the Israeli government over the past 50 years that have rendered a two State solution impossible.
The Israeli government, and their loyal supporters such as the United States and Australia, the latter almost invariably casting its UN vote in support of Israel, (along with such world powers as the Marshall Islands and Palau), cannot be unaware of that reality. To continue lip service to a two State solution is therefore nothing but rank hypocrisy.
That leaves a rather stark alternative. Either steps are taken to implement a single, preferably secular State in which all Palestinians and Israeli Jews have equal rights, or to continue the slow motion strangulation of the Palestinian people.
Under the latter option, Palestinian land will be progressively stolen, as it has since the inception of the Israeli State, its people disenfranchised, and continuing resistance will be met with State sanctioned violence.
Israel is unlikely to accept the former solution although it is the only viable one consistent with the human rights of the Palestinian people. A country that builds a massive apartheid wall (never shown on Australian TV), murders women and children on flimsy pretexts, and completely ignores international law is never going to voluntarily share power.
A faint ray of alternative hope is found in the Security Council’s resolution to seek three monthly reports on the implementation of the resolution. Whether that will have any practical effect will depend heavily upon the attitude of the incoming Trump administration. Trump’s appointment of a rabid Zionist as his next ambassador to Israel, and other unfortunate comments, does not augur well.
The other, even remoter possibility is that the International Criminal Court will deviate from its pursuit of sundry African dictators and actually pursue Israeli leaders for their continuing criminality.
Those expecting any positive Australian government support for the UN Security Council’s resolution and the Palestinian people may also have to wait.
*Barrister at Law. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org