A Body Blow to U.S. — Israeli Relations

Creative Commons photo by Stefan Corso

In November of 1947, after a mass genocide claiming the lives of 6 million Jews, in a bold move to end raising tensions within the area, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine to make room for the influx of “Zionist” immigrants. And in one day, May 14, 1948, in the city of Tel Aviv, the Jewish state of Israel became a nation. The very next day, with no other motivation than the destruction of the Jewish state, Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq launched a series of separate and uncoordinated attacks. All but Transjordan were of the original 51 member-nations of the U.N.

UN – Israeli relations have been tense from 1948 to present. In 2013, U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, admitted that “Unfortunately, because of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, Israel’s been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias — and sometimes even discrimination. It’s an unfortunate situation.” Again, in 2014, Ban said that, within the UN. “There are some bias against Israel, Israeli people, and government.”

Between 2006 and 2014, of the 103 resolutions brought by the United Nations Human Rights Council, 56 were dedicated to the state of Israel, while blatantly ignoring the many acts of terrorism by Hamas during the Gaza war, as well as the human rights violations committed by Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.

For most of that time, however, America has been Israel’s greatest ally in the UN – until now. The narrative on December 23, on the eve of Hanukkah, was that the U.S. abstained from voting on the UN resolution, condemning Israeli settlements in disputed territory. These disputed areas include the West Bank and East Jerusalem which houses the Jewish built – and religious relic – “Western Wall.”

That narrative has since changed. After Secretary of State, John Kerry, gave his final speech under the Obama Presidency on Israel, in which he made the statement, “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both.” While Kerry told the world that the U.S. had nothing to do with the UN resolution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with the claim that “We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the United Nations Security Council.” Netanyahu went on to say that he intends to share his information with President-elect Trump and his transition team.

This has sparked an outcry from pro-Israeli politicians to respond to resolution 2334 by cutting off American funds to the United Nations. Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are currently leading the fight in Congress to pull U.S. backing from the United Nations. Graham said, “Twenty-two percent of the United Nations budget comes from the American taxpayer, and I’m going to lead the charge to withhold funding until they repeal this resolution.” House Speaker Paul Ryan pledged to “reverse the damage done” between the U.S. and Israel in light of the resolution. Cruz warned “President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Ambassador Power, and their colleagues should remember that the United States Congress reconvenes on January 3rd, and under the Constitution we control the taxpayer funds they would use for their anti-Israel initiatives.”

But fighting this resolution that “reversed years of U.S. policy on the matter” may just be the first round in a series of upcoming brawls. The Washington Free Beacon reports that the Obama administration “is already plotting to take further action against the Jewish state before vacating office.” Senator Cruz told the Beacon “The disgraceful anti-Israel resolution passed by the UNSC was apparently only the opening salvo in the Obama administration’s final assault on Israel.”

This clearly anti-Israeli resolution, and those that may follow, raise a new issue for incoming President Trump; namely, repairing the longstanding relationship between the U.S. and Israel. It would seem clear, as well, that being so close to the transition of power, such a diplomatic attack on Israel is Obama taking advantage his last chance to make a lasting imprint on the world, and raise new issues for Trump to sort out.

In any case, U.S.-Israeli-UN relations will never be the same – for better or worse.

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