Abba Eban famously remarked that
the Palestinians the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Yesterday however the reverse happened. The Palestinians took an opportunity that wasn’t there and achieved a spectacular fail. (Amended as advised by cba in the comments).
The background to this mis-step is their attempt, for the umpteenth time, to force a UN Security Resolution recognizing the non-existent state of Palestine and to force Israel from the territories it liberated in 1967. They needed 9 Security Council votes in order to pass the resolution, although the US had already stated it would veto such a resolution. But that did not become necessary as the required votes were never achieved.
What was their rush though? If Abbas had only held off for a few more days, the composition of the Security Council would have changed in his favour, with more pro-Palestinian members on board:
n three rounds of voting, of which two were restricted, the General Assembly today elected Angola, Malaysia, Venezuela, New Zealand and Spain to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council for the next two years.
Those elected will fill seats to be vacated on 31 December by Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, Republic of Korea and Rwanda. Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria will continue to serve as elected Council members during 2015, completing the second year of their respective terms. All new Council members will take their seats on 1 January 2015.
One can only draw the conclusion that the Palestinians are not really interested in a state as much as in embarrassing Israel as publicly as possible and in as many diplomatic forums as possible.
The UN Security Council on Tuesday rejected a resolution on Palestinian statehood, with the Palestinians failing to get the minimum nine “yes” votes required for adoption by the 15-member council: Eight voted for the resolution and two voted against, with five abstention
France, China and Russia were among the countries that supported the text setting a 12-month deadline for negotiations on a final peace deal with Israel and an imposed full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem by the end of 2017. Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg also voted for the resolution.
Australia and the United States voted against.
Until shortly before the vote, council diplomats had expected the resolution to get nine “yes” votes. Had this been the case, the US would likely have used its veto to block the resolution. But Nigeria, which had been expected to vote “yes,” abstained at the last minute, leaving the Palestinian Authority one vote short of the required number.
Nigeria’s ambassador, U. Joy Ogwu, echoed the US position saying the ultimate path to peace lies “in a negotiated solution.”
The other four abstentions were those of the UK, Lithuania, South Korea and Rwanda.
Israel was quick to capitalize on its diplomatic victory over the Palestinian Authority, with its envoy calling PA conduct at the UN a “march of folly” and its effort to win UN support for a peace deal within a year a “provocation.” The Palestinians, meanwhile, lamented what they called the paralysis of the council.
The Ynet News site noted that Israeli diplomats were disappointed with France, which supported the resolution despite its objections to its wording and its failed attempt to bring through a much more moderate version.
France backed the resolution because of an “urgent need to act,” Ambassador Francois Delattre told the council. He expressed disappointment that efforts to negotiate a text that could win consensus failed.
“Our efforts must not stop here. It is our responsibility to try again. Before it’s too late.”
Jordan’s UN Ambassador Dina Kawar, the Arab representative on the Security Council, said after the vote: “The fact that this draft resolution was not adopted will not at all prevent us from proceeding to push the international community, specifically the United Nations, towards an effective involvement to achieving a resolution to this conflict.”
Mansour said after the vote: “Our effort was a serious effort, a genuine effort, to open the door for peace. Unfortunately, the Security Council is not ready to listen to that message.”
The vote was nothing of the sort. If that is what “peace” looks like I dread to think what their version of war would resemble. The vote was nothing more and nothing less than an attempt to impose conditions on Israel by diplomatic force, conditions that the Palestinians were unable to carry out by military means. If they can’t win on the battlefield they are determined to beat Israel on the diplomatic front.
The failure of the vote was good news for the US too since they didn’t need to use their veto to defeat the vote:
A US veto would have risked angering key Arab allies, including partners in the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
It is gratifying to note that the Americans were very determined in their decision:
US Ambassador Samantha Power said: “We voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because … peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table.”
State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters in Washington that many countries shared the US sentiment that the resolution was “unconstructive and poorly timed.”
“Every month that goes by without constructive engagement between the parties just increases polarization and allows more space for destabilizing efforts,” Rathke said.
Other Western countries also voted against or abstained:
Britain had indicated on Tuesday that it would not support the resolution. British Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant told reporters that the UK was not happy with the phrasing of the resolution.
“Canada fundamentally believes that Palestinian statehood can only be a by-product of negotiations with the State of Israel,” Baird said in a statement. “We have long rejected unilateral action on either side, as we believe it is ultimately unhelpful to the cause of peace.”
“The resolution that was submitted to the United Nations Security Council on December 29 is just another attempt to circumvent negotiations and place preconditions on future discussions,” he continued. “Canada therefore calls upon members of the UN Security Council to reject this resolution and instead use its influence to urge both sides to sit down without preconditions.”
An earlier draft resolution was formally presented to the council on December 17, but the United States quickly rejected the text over Palestinian insistence that deadlines be set.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked African leaders for their support in defeating the Palestinian motion:
Netanyahu called the leaders of Rwanda and Nigeria, two countries that abstained during the vote after Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry convinced them to instruct their UN envoys not to support the Palestinian draft resolution.
Netanyahu maintains warm ties with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. At the beginning of December, Netanyahu sent Jonathan a personal letter expressing his “heartfelt condolences” over a terror attack at a mosque in the city of Kano in which at least 120 people were killed. Jonathan made a high-profile visit to Israel in late October, coming with an entourage of 20 Nigerian political and religious leaders. He was in Israel on a private Christian pilgrimage.
According to Ynet, the Nigerians’ and Rwandans’ nay vote was partly due to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s diplomatic ties in Africa.
But the fight is not yet over. The Palestinians, having failed in one battle, have immediately girded up for the next, and today signed a request to join the International Criminal Court (the ICC):
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed a request Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court, a move that would establish a new avenue for action against Israel after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution which aimed to establish a timetable for a full Israeli pullout from the West Bank and East Jerusalem
The Palestinians hope ICC membership will pave the way for war crimes prosecutions against Israeli officials. Abbas did not specify Wednesday when he planned to file complaints against Israel, or the specifics of such intended complaints, which it may be feasible to file within the next few weeks.
Israel, however, maintains it is Palestinian crimes that would be exposed to the judgment of the Hague-based court.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to the announcement that it was the Palestinian Authority, not Israel, that had to worry about the ICC’s judgments because of its partners, Hamas, from whose Gaza territory over 4,500 rockets and other projectiles were fired at Israel during a 50-day war this summer.
“We will adopt steps in response and we will protect the soldiers of the IDF — the most moral army in the world,” Netanyahu said in a statement. The prime minister is set to convene a meeting Thursday to discuss responding to the Palestinians’ ICC gambit.
Other Israeli leaders agreed with Netanyahu that Abbas has more to fear from the ICC than Israel:
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was more blunt in his response, saying that even a “deaf, blind and mute judge” knows that the Palestinians are responsible for the “indiscriminate murder of men, women, children and babies for the last 100 years.”
Abbas can sign onto all the treaties he wants to, Liberman said in a Facebook post, “the only ones committing war crimes in this conflict are the Palestinians themselves.”
Abbas, he wrote, “should not threaten us, the country with the most moral army in the world.”
Economy Minister and Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett said of Abbas that he who has “terrorism spread on his head should not go out into the sunshine.”
Abbas, Bennett said, is “one of the great inciters of terrorism, and a veteran Holocaust denier, that should come to the court only as a defendant.”
No matter that the Palestinians failed at the UN, they will keep on trying and the do-gooders in the liberal West will continue urging them on in their quest for
peace total domination of the region and the elimination of Israel.
Since this is the Season for goodwill etc., it’s time that people of good will internalized, and taught the Palestinians, that peace does not mean beating your enemy. Peace means living together with people who are not your enemy any more. It means accepting their existence and the differences between the two nations, whether in religion, culture or society. The Palestinians have not internalized this, and on the contrary, have succeeded in persuading a large portion of the “civilised” world that the only peace worth having is one where Israel is subservient to the Arabs or non-existent altogether.
Until such Utopian time, there will be no peace in our corner of the world and no good will to those men.