147 nations call to halt ‘aid’ to Israeli settlements


At the General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, they approved a resolution which called on the international community not to “render aid or assistance to illegal settlement activities.”

TOVAH LAZAROFF

DECEMBER 6, 2019 00:04
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the opening of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (photo credit: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON)
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the opening of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly

Some 147 United Nations member states, including the European Union, have called to halt all aid to West Bank settlements, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing to annex the Jordan Valley.

At the General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, they approved a resolution which called on the international community not to “render aid or assistance to illegal settlement activities, including not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories.”

The resolution, called “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine,” was meant to also apply to east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

It also disavowed Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem, a territory which Israel seized from Jordan during the Six Day War in 1967 and which it formally annexed in 1980.

The resolution was one of anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian texts the UNGA approved. They are the first in a slew of 20 such annual resolutions which the UNGA is expected to approve this month.

Only seven member nations opposed the measure and 13 abstained. Last year the text was approved 156-8 with 12 abstentions. All 28 European Union member states approved the resolution.

Countries that opposed it this year and last, included Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the United States. Kiribati, which opposed it in 2018, was absent from the room this year.

The resolution “Special Information Program on the Question of Palestine” was similarly approved 144-8 with 14 abstentions, compared with last year when it was approved 152-8 with 14 abstentions. Countries that opposed it this year and last, included Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the United States.

US deputy ambassador to the UN in New York Cherith Norman Chalet said her country had opposed all five resolutions, explaining that this “one-sided approach only undermines trust among the Israelis, Palestinians, and the international community, and fails to create the kind of positive environment critical to achieving peace.”

She added that, “several of the resolutions presented here today support UN bodies whose primary purpose unbelievably is to target Israel, such as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. These bodies cost the UN $6 million annually, but bring us no closer to a peaceful solution to the conflict.” Such bodies, she said, “promote a culture of bias against Israel, as demonstrated by the anti-Israeli tone in the events, publications, and rhetoric produced by the bodies, and even more concerning consume scarce UN resources that could be better devoted to other priorities.”

The small bump Israel received on Tuesday was more evident in the resolution on behalf of the “Division for Palestinian Rights” which helps organize pro-Palestinian activity at the UN.

Last year, that resolution passed 96-13, with 64 abstentions. This year, that same text was approved by 87-23 with 54 abstentions.

The change came about as a result of 11 European Union member states and two Latin American nations which last year abstained and this year, chose to vote against the text.

Those countries which changed to a ‘no’ vote were: Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia.

The other 10 countries, which voted against the resolution both in 2018 and in 2019 were: Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the United States.

Among the more significant countries to shift their vote was Brazil, which either voted “no” or abstained on all five pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli resolutions approved by UNGA. Last year, Brazil voted in favor of the Palestinians on four of the same resolutions and abstained on only one.

“There is a need for improvement with the view to achieving more balanced and less biased texts, especially with regard to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights,” the Brazilian representatives told the UNGA.

“We regret devoting UN resources to bodies that have been used to promote one-sided narratives and biased views against one of the parties in the conflict without bringing any real contribution to a just and lasting comprehensive and peaceful settlement,” the representative said.

But Israel also lost support at the UN. Three countries which opposed the “Division for Palestinian Rights” resolution last year shifted their votes as well. Moldova and the Solomon Islands abstained. Kiribati was absent from the vote.

Cote D’Ivoire and Chad, which last year stood with the Palestinians and supported the resolution, shifted their stance, with Cote D’Ivoire abstaining and Chad choosing to be absent from the room. The Central African Republic which in 2018 abstained, was absent this year.

A resolution on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinians was approved 92-13 with 61 abstentions.

Those countries who opposed the resolution were: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the United States.

Last year the resolution passed 100-12, with 62 abstentions. Brazil in 2018 was among those who stood with the Palestinians and supported the text in contrast to this year when it opposed the measure.

Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour thanked the General Assembly for its very strong demonstration of support.

“I believe that upholding international law as reflected in these resolutions is the essence of the work of the general assembly, we debate, we discuss, we respect international law,” he said.

A resolution condemning Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, was approved 91-9, with 65 abstentions. The nine opposing countries were: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Eight of those opposing countries took the same stance last year when the resolution was approved 99-10, with 66 abstentions. It had the support of Kiribati, which this year was absent, and Nauru, which on Tuesday abstained. Brazil voted against the text last year.

The drop in support from 99 last year to 91 this year was due in large part to countries who last year voted for the text and this year were absent from the room. That included the following countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Guyana, Guinea Bisson, Malawi, Niger , Somalia and Tanzania.

The resolution, which was written as if a civil war was not raging in Syria said that Israel’s “continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.”

It called “upon Israel to resume the talks on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks and to respect the commitments and undertakings reached during the previous talks.”

The resolution further demanded “that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 in implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.”

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