December 3, 2012 | Quote

The UN Vote on Palestine: Profiles in Cowardice

Last week's vote to extend non-member observer status to the Palestinians at the United Nations was a virtual primer on what is wrong with the U.N., the European Union, the Palestinian Authority and the United States when it comes to the Middle East.

One hardly needs to note that the U.N.'s Israel obsession, which takes up more of its time and elicits more Human Rights council resolutions than any issue or country on the planet, comes at a time the body can't bring itself to move against Bashar al-Assad in Syria, religious oppression of Christians in the Middle East or, goodness gracious, anything regarding the authoritarian revanchism in Georgia. Nothing to see there. Keep moving on. (This, by the way, is the “international community” in all its glory that President Obama so diligently courts.)

Next, let's look at the ineptitude of the Obama administration (and our ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice) in failing to convince European allies to vote against the Palestinian Authority's phony statehood resolution and abrogation of its treaty resolutions.

Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies points out, “There was never much doubt that the U.N. General Assembly would overwhelmingly vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to the status of nonmember state on Nov. 29. The big surprise of the event was that a number of key Western European countries did not join the United States and vote against the resolution. The Czech Republic was the only European country to vote against the upgrade, and shockingly, the normally staunchly pro-Israeli governments of Germany and Britain decided to abstain.”

You can attribute this sorry state of affairs in large part to the pusillanimous governments of Europe. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is wary of her potential coalition partner and pro-Palestinian Social Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Schanzer notes, “According to one European diplomat well versed in Spain's foreign policy, [French president Fran ois] Hollande capitalized on the weak Spanish economy to push Madrid to vote for the PLO's upgrade. . . . In short, the diplomat noted that Spain had joined France as part of a bloc of countries — including Italy and Portugal — in exchange for France's protection in upcoming rounds of austerity talks. The diplomat also noted that Spain is attempting to obtain a seat on the U.N. Security Council and that the vote may have been a way to court favor from Arab countries.”

Which brings us to the U.S. and Ambassador Rice. She could only persuade the Czech Republic, some Pacific island countries, Canada and Panama? That's the extent of her diplomatic prowess? (I am certain that the Canadian government needed no convincing on this score, having frequently and courageously defended the Jewish State.)

It is unclear if the Obama administration, and Rice specifically, made any effort whatsoever to round up some “no” votes. It is quite likely the United States never communicated to Europeans and other allies (e.g. Australia) that the United States would look unfavorably on their abstentions. Apparently our “improved” relations with allies under Obama don't allow us to ask for anything or get anything of any consequence. Should she still get the nomination for secretary of state, Rice should be grilled on why the results were so abysmal.

Last and least is the Palestinian Authority. Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams writes that “the political failure of the Palestinian Authority which is to say of the Fatah Party and of the PLO against Hamas is significant. Since Arafat's death in 2004, the leadership group has generally failed to win the 2006 elections, to prevent Hamas from taking Gaza, to develop a new generation of uncorrupted and popular candidates, and to produce the underpinnings of a state. Such institutional and economic progress as has been made has largely been the work of Salam Fayyad, the PA prime minister, who is not even a member of Fatah and is deeply unpopular within its ranks.” All the PA can muster is a relatively meaningless declaration that changes nothing, although it neatly sums up the endemic cynicism of the Arab countries, which would rather sponsor empty resolutions than help improve the lives of Palestinians or promote a true peace between Arabs and Jews in the region.

To recap, Europeans' animosity toward Israel is rising, unchecked by the inept Obama administration. The PA is a corrupt, undemocratic relic that neither wants peace nor has the ability to make necessary compromises. And naturally, the current status of the Middle East, in the eyes of the U.N. General Assembly, is Israel's fault. Israel's building announcement is deemed to be a “risk to peace.” With a straight face the White House intones that such a step “makes it harder to resume direct talks, achieve a 2-state solution.” We're beyond farce now when it comes to the sanctimonious tut-tutting of Israel.

Oh, and the centrifuges are spinning in Iran, where the mullahs understandably are unimpressed by the United States and the “international community.”

Read the full article here.


International Organizations Palestinian Politics