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Elliott Morss | January 18th, 2018

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The Latest UN Security Council Condemnation of Israel – A Little History

The Latest UN Security Council Condemnation of Israel – A Little History
© Elliott R. Morss, Ph.D.


On Friday, the UN Security Council voted, with the US abstaining, to again condemn Israel. From the text of Resolution 2334:

  1. “[The Security Council]Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
  2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
  3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
  4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperiling the two-State solution….”

The US Abstention

The US action was immediately criticized by a wide range of actors:

President Elect Donald Trump: “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “This provocative action by the United Nations is an outrage and must be dealt with sternly and forcefully. If the United Nations moves forward with the ill-conceived resolution, I will work to form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce United States assistance to the United Nations.”

Charles Schumer (D-NY): “Whatever one’s views are on settlements, anyone who cares about the future of Israel and peace in the region knows that the UN, with its onesidedness, is exactly the wrong forum to bring about peace. I have spoken directly to the Administration numerous times … and in the strongest terms possible urged them to veto this resolution. I am strongly opposed to the UN putting pressure on Israel through one-sided resolutions.

John McCain (R-Ariz.) “Today’s passage of an ill-conceived resolution on Israeli settlements marks another shameful chapter in the bizarre anti-Israel history of the United Nations.”

Morton Klein, president of the Zionists Organization of America: “Obama is sticking it to the Jewish state of Israel…”Obama has made it clear that he’s a Jew hating, anti-Semite. He likes Jews who are his friends but not Jews in general.”

Context is important on this subject and it is provided below.

Creating the State of Israel

At the end of WWII, the West created Israel in the middle of the Arab/Muslim world. Understandably, the Jewish people wanted to be close to Jerusalem. And while this was tough on the Palestinians living there at the time, but Western nations believed the Israelis should have their own country.

But the US went further. It enabled Israel to build/obtain nuclear weapons. The US also proclaimed that Israel would be its “policeman” in the middle of the Arab/Muslim world. So how did Israel react? Did it take its role seriously and become a moderate and reasonable defender of peace in the Middle East? It did not.

Israel’s Aggressive Acts

In 1967, proclaiming its need to defend itself, Israel seized lands of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. These actions were condemned by UN Security Council Resolutions 248, 251, 252, 256, and 258. These resolutions also called on Israel to return the lands they had seized. These lands have never been returned. In 1970, Israel invaded Lebanon. This invasion was condemned by the UN Security Council in Resolutions 265, 267, 270, 271, 280, 285, 316, 317, and 332. These resolutions also called for Israel to leave Lebanon.

In 1982, Israel again invaded Lebanon. This invasion was condemned by UN Security Council Resolutions 512, 513, 514, 515, 516, 517, 518, 519, and 520. It was at this time that Hezbollah was formed. It was formed and supported by Arab neighbors of Israel to prevent Israel from seizing more land.

I accept there were provocations for some of these aggressive acts. But keep in mind: the US and the UK were not going to allow any foreign incursions into Israel.

But as documented above, Israel has been condemned by the UN Security Council for aggressive acts 29 times, far more than any other country. Think of it this way: there were 29 times that the US agreed with other Security Council members that Israeli’s actions should be condemned. And note: that number would have been much higher if the US had not vetoed 76 resolutions condemning Israel in the 1972 – 2015 period.

Needless to say, these aggressive Israeli acts and the US support of them did not sit well with Israel’s neighbors. And from a foreign policy standpoint, one has to ask why the US would support these acts. Was it sound US foreign policy to make enemies throughout the Middle East? It was not. And it is not an exaggeration to say that many of the terrorist acts directed at the US stem from Middle East hatred generated by unconditional US support of Israel.

The Jewish Lobby

Back in 2006, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote a highly-regarded piece on US foreign policy and the influence of Israel. In it, the tenured professors from the University of Chicago and Harvard, respectively, documented in considerable detail how excessive US support for Israel “has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world.”

Their conclusion:

“Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides. Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.”

Mearsheimer and Walt end on a positive note:

“But there is a ray of hope. Although the Lobby remains a powerful force, the adverse effects of its influence are increasingly difficult to hide. Powerful states can maintain flawed policies for quite some time, but reality cannot be ignored.”

I am not so sure.

  • The goal of a two-state solution appears less likely than it did when Mearsheimer and Walt wrote their piece.
  • US relations with the Arab countries of the Middle East have not improved.
  • And terrorism, spurred in part by Middle East anger over what is seen as excessive US support for Israel, has increased.


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