Barry Werner-Res. 2334 Assault on Israel and the Jewish People
UNSC Resolution 2334 is an Assault on Israel and the Jewish People that doesn’t lead to peace
Introduction: UNSC Resolution 2334 (December 23, 2016)
Resolution 2334 of the UN Security Council (UNSC) is an unfair and harmful assault on Israel and the Jewish People. It puts most of the blame on Israel for the lack of progress in achieving a two-state solution. It’s effect would be to deprive the Jewish People access to their ancient homeland and religious sites. It encourages lawfare (the misuse of the world’s judicial systems as a kind of warfare) against Israel. It misappropriates the machinery of the UN to attack Israel. And it supports antisemitic prejudice.
The resolution points only to Israeli settlements as “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
The resolution calls it a crime for Jews to live in their ancestral homeland, including Jerusalem, the ancient capital of Israel where the Temple once stood, the holiest city for Jews, where Jews lived almost continuously for 3,000 years, and from which the army of Transjordan (now Jordan) illegally expelled the Jews in 1948. The resolution says: “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 the resolution calls “for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including ‘natural growth’, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001.”
The resolution gives support to the BDS movement and “lawfare” to attack and defame Israel. It “Calls upon all States … to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”
The resolution intensifies the UN’s obsession with Israel. It “Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution,” and calls for the UNSC to “remain seized of the matter.”
The resolution implies that the Jews of Israel oppress innocent Arabs.
UNSC Resolution 2334 is based on unfair and faulty assumptions
The UNSC resolution unfairly singles out Israel for censure
As Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN reminded the UN after she allowed Resolution 2334 to pass, the UN obsessively and unfairly singles out Israel for censure. UNSC Resolution 2334 intensifies that obsession, making the censure of Israel a fixed UNSC agenda item, repeating every three months.
There are many examples of countries acquiring territory by force and violating the Fourth Geneva Convention that the UNSC should attend to closely but doesn’t, such as Russia’s acquisition of territory from Ukraine, China’s acquisition of Tibet, and in the Middle East, the 1975 Turkish occupation of Cyprus (one-third of the Greek Cypriot population fled or were expelled from the occupied northern part of the island). Before 1967, there was Jordan’s expulsion of the Jews from the West Bank in 1948. Israel’s West Bank occupation is hardly comparable in importance.
Eugene Kontorovich conducted a comprehensive study of all the occupations carried out since the adoption of the Geneva Conventions in 1949 (lasting more than one year, resulting from an international armed conflict governed by the Geneva Conventions, involving countries that signed the Geneva Conventions before the occupation, and involving the movement of civilian population into occupied territory, other than the case involving Israel), (Kontorovich, “Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories,” Northwestern University School of Law, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 16-20, September 7, 2016, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2835908). The study finds “First, the migration of people into occupied territory is a near-ubiquitous feature of extended belligerent occupations. Second, no occupying power has ever taken any measures to discourage or prevent such settlement activity, nor has any occupying power ever expressed opinio juris suggesting that it is bound to do so. Third, and perhaps most strikingly, in none of these situations have the international community or international organizations described the migration of persons into the occupied territory as a violation of Art. 49(6). Even in the rare cases in which such policies have met with international criticism, it has not been in legal terms. This suggests that the level of direct state involvement in “transfer” required to constitute an Art. 49(6) violation may be significantly greater than previously thought. Finally, neither international political bodies nor the new governments of previously occupied territories have ever embraced the removal of illegally transferred civilian settlers as an appropriate remedy.” And, “No one has ever been prosecuted for this war crime, and its interpretation has been confined to academic and political statements – entirely within the particular context of Israel.” In every case studied, except for Israel, the international community condemned the occupations but “the UN, the EU Parliament, PACE, and other bodies have been asked to denounce these activities as illegal, and have refused. … In these cases, we are not dealing with pure silence, but rather with the kind of silence that suggests the underlying conduct is either legal or not clearly illegal.” The UNSC says Israel is a criminal for taking actions the UNSC condones when taken by other countries.
The resolution’s call to the UNSC to “remain seized of the matter” of Israeli settlements is a misappropriation of the UNSC ’s agenda that unfairly singles out Israel for censure.
The UNSC resolution disregards the Oslo Accords
Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed to negotiate directly with each other and work towards peace and a two-state solution using the mechanism of the Oslo Accords (1993 and 1995). The agreement set up and gave the Palestinian Authority (PA) all the Arab cities and towns on the West Bank, and recognized the legality of Israeli settlements in what is called Area C. Yet the resolution now calls the Israeli settlements illegal.
If the UN wants to facilitate a two-state solution, it should respect the Oslo process and insist that the PA honor its commitments rather than try to get a better deal in the UN. It seems that the Oslo Accords is an inconvenient truth for the UNSC.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the war of 1947-49, Israel’s “War of Independence”
The Arab world invaded Palestine to destroy the Jewish state immediately upon its creation, but lost the war. The majority, but importantly, not all, the Arabs of Palestine joined the invading armies to destroy the very concept of Palestine. They did not fight to create an Arab Palestinian state, rather to slaughter (they said) the Jews and absorb the land of Palestine into Syria and Jordan.
The Arab world effectively annulled the partition plan. The Arabs who chose to remain with the Jews chose to remain in the Jewish state, so after the war partition was no longer necessary. The world recognized that the de facto border of Israel is the “Green Line”, the collective ceasefire lines, giving Israel all the land of Palestine including the land that had been allocated to the Arabs, except for the land under foreign domination.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the de facto boundary of Israel and inequitably gives the West Bank to the Arabs
The ownership of the West Bank is in dispute. The last time it’s ownership was clear is when it was part of pre-partition Palestine. Since Israel inherited de facto all of pre-partition Palestine in 1949, except land that was inaccessible due to foreign occupation, Israel has a claim to the West Bank now that the foreign occupation is over.
Although the Arabs who fled to the West Bank rejected their portion of the UN partition plan of 1947, and fought to absorb Palestine into Syria and Jordan, they have a chance to reassert a claim to land on the West Bank through the Oslo process, but so far they haven’t done so, and they violated the Oslo Agreements egregiously.
The UNSC’s legal opinion has a practical result that is even worse than the possibility of Israel acquiring territory it only debatably owns. The UNSC’s legal opinion would give all the West Bank to the Arabs, whose claim to the land is weaker than that of Israel’s since the Arabs would be free to move out of the limited areas they occupied in 1967 and create small settlement all over the whole West Bank while Israelis would be restricted from settling anywhere. The Arabs would then inherit the whole West Bank by default. It would be far more equitable if the Israelis and Arabs agreed, as they did in the Oslo Accords, to share the disputed land. And, the agreed-upon Oslo Accords should supersede the UNSC’s legal opinion.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the ceasefire agreements of 1949
The states bordering Israel that invaded Palestine, namely Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, all signed ceasefire agreements in 1949. Using slightly different wording in each case, all the ceasefire agreements said that the provisions of their agreements were dictated exclusively by military considerations and were not to be construed in any sense as the Arabs agreeing to political or territorial boundaries that legitimized the establishment of the state of Israel. The Arab states claimed the right to continue their war against Israel, which they did in 1967.
So, the ceasefire lines of 1949, also called the Green Line, also the pre-1967 border of Israel, are only ceasefire lines and not, as the UNSC claims, the border of Israel for purposes of dividing the West Bank from Israel. Once the Arabs restarted their war to destroy Israel in 1967, they effectively erased the ceasefire lines so the de facto borders of Israel should expand to include the whole West bank.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the 1967, “Six Day” war
The Arab world restarted the war to destroy Israel in June 1967 (the “Six Day War”) and lost. Israel liberated Gaza and the West Bank from illegal occupation by Egypt and Jordan.
The UN Partition Plan of 1947 envisioned Jerusalem to be an international city in which both Jews and Arabs could live. The Jordanians illegally exiled the Jews from Jerusalem. So, it was legal for Israel to restore the Jewish presence, and make the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish temple once again available for Jewish worship. Israel also restored Jordanian control of the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount, Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the Fourth Geneva Convention
The Fourth Geneva Convention, entitled “Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,” of August 12, 1949, was written to protect noncombatant civilians caught in a war zone. UNSC resolution 2334 claims incorrectly that because Arabs lived on parts of the West Bank, the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits any Israeli settlement on any part of the West Bank, even on public land, even in Jerusalem.
The intention of the Fourth Geneva Convention was to govern situations in which one country occupies territory of another country. But the West Bank is not another country, it is land whose ownership is in dispute but for which Israel has the best claim. The West Bank is liberated “disputed territory” which does not clearly belong to the Arabs. Even though the West Bank is home to Arabs who are hostile to Israel, Israelis have at least as much right to live there as the Arabs do.
The human rights of the West Bank Arabs is a separate issue from the ownership of the disputed land. Both issues need to be addressed, one issue shouldn’t cancel the other. The Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the human rights of the Arab population under Israeli military control, but their rights should only be to that part of the land they lived on before the 1967 war. And, following the 1967 war, Israel carefully protected those human rights of the Arab population.
Eventually, when Israel finally allowed its citizens to settle in the West Bank, it specifically made use of the pre-existing laws in the West Bank to determine which lands were private, that is, lived on or used for cultivation, and which lands were public. Israel respected the rights of the Arabs to continue to live on the land they owned before the 1967 war, and Israel restrained its population from settling on private Arab land. When Israeli citizens did try to settle on land that could rightfully be claimed as private Arab land, the Arabs had recourse to Israeli courts to evict the settlers. (By far, almost everything built in Israeli settlements on the West Bank was built on public land, not on private Arab land. There were some disputes about land ownership but the Arabs had recourse to the Israeli judicial system, which could and, when they were right, did rule in their favor.)
Prohibiting Israeli settlement anywhere in the West Bank is morally wrong. There were Jewish communities on what is now called the West Bank, especially in Jerusalem, only 19 years before the 1967 war. The Jews were massacred or expelled during the illegal Jordanian invasion. It is a distorted view of human rights to say that the illegal expulsion of the Jews from their ancestral homeland in 1947-48 should be rewarded by giving the expropriated land to the perpetrators, the local Arabs, who fought alongside the Jordanian army.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the UNSC resolution 242 (1967)
UNSC resolution 2334 says it reaffirms the previous relevant resolutions, including UNSC resolution 242, which was passed at the end of the 1967 war, but in fact it deliberately misrepresents resolution 242 and reverses it’s meaning.
Resolution 242 was carefully worded to mean that Israel should take the opportunity to trade some of the conquered territory for peace, but not, as UNSC resolution 2334 deliberately misrepresents it, all the conquered territory. Israel offered to trade almost all, but not quite all, the conquered territory for peace several times in accordance with the intension of UNSC resolution 242.
Resolution 242 was the first in a long series of resolutions on the subject. Since all the resolutions affirm the previous ones, changing the meaning of the first one retroactively changes the meaning of all the subsequent resolutions.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the Israeli efforts to make peace in the years following the 1967 war
It is a serious distortion of reality to accuse Israel of bearing the main responsibility for the lack of peace while disregarding the long history of Israeli attempts to negotiate peace with the Arabs on generous terms; to totally disregard the Arab world’s long history of belligerency and refusal to make peace on any terms; and the PA’s ongoing incitement of terrorism.
In the interests of making peace with its neighbors, as soon as the 1967 war was over, even though the West Bank is Israel’s historic patrimony and should have reverted to Israel after being liberated from illegal foreign occupation, Israel did not allow its citizens to settle on the conquered territory, except for Jerusalem. Israel tried to trade most of the land for peace.
The Arab League immediately declared after the war in 1967 that the Arab world refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist and refused to make peace with it, even to negotiate with it; it forced Jordan to turn down Israel’s offer of the West Bank in exchange for peace; it empowered the PLO to fight a war of terrorism against Israel; and the Arab world renewed its war against Israel in 1973.
Israel’s settlements policy was a slowly evolving reaction to Arab intransigency. Israel’s patience was tried beyond what any other country in the world would have tolerated. As the Arabs continued to say they would never make peace with Israel it became increasingly difficult to restrain would-be settlers. At first Israel successfully restrained its citizens from settling in the conquered territory. With time, the settler movement developed, becoming strong only after the 1973 Yom Kippur war.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the 1973, “Yom Kippur” War
All wars are dangerous, but the 1973, “Yom Kippur” War traumatized Israelis especially deeply. After the Arab defeat in the 1967, “Six Day War”, Russia massively resupplied and trained the Egyptian and Syrian armies. Egypt and Syria then led a coalition of Arab states (and Cuba) to invade Israel unexpectedly on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a day of fasting. The Arab armies were better prepared than ever before and quickly made significant advances in the field. A large number of Israeli soldiers were killed or wounded, and the Israeli citizenry feared for their lives. Although Israel finally defeated the invaders, that memory is still felt by the Israelis who lived through it. (In retrospect, the invasion should have been expected, the political recriminations that followed were also traumatizing.)
Israeli politics changed radically in the decade following the Yom Kippur War. Israelis became much less optimistic about the possibility of making peace with the Arab world and more concerned about the possibility that the Arab world would once again try to annihilate them.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the Gulf War, the intifadas, and terrorism in general
Although the Yom Kippur War was exceptionally traumatic, it is important to remember that there have been 100 years of deadly violence against Jews in the land that is now Israel, and that the West Bank Arabs still hold that hatred. Most Israeli citizens today were terrified children either during the 1947-49 War of Independence, 1956 Sinai Campaign war, 1967 Six Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 war in Lebanon, the 1991 scud missile attacks from Iraq during the Gulf War, the 2006 war in Lebanon, the 2008-09 and 2012 and 2014 wars in Gaza, or during one of the many intifadas, mini-intifadas, and missile attacks from Gaza and Lebanon, etc. Now adults are afraid for their children serving in the army. Almost anyone who has lived in Israel for any length of time knows someone who has personally been in a terrorist attack or was nearby when it happened, or knows someone who has been killed or injured in a war. In Israel, terror attacks and wars are personal matters, not abstractions.
The Israeli communities in the neighborhood of Gaza, especially the town of Sederot, were hit by thousands of rockets from Hamas, and other radical Islamist groups, over many years. Many Israelis were killed and injured and many children grew up terrified. Then, when Iran smuggled in longer-range rockets enabling Hamas to target half of Israel, Israel struck back. The Israeli army used precision weaponry in military actions against Hamas, but because Hamas was too intertwined in the civilian population, using the civilians as human shields, Israel has still not been able to completely remove them.
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty understanding of Israel’s desire to live in peace with the Arab world
The outside world doesn’t understand Israelis or the world they live in.
The outside world doesn’t understand that Israelis combine their fears with a sincere desire for Israel to be accepted by its neighbors in the Middle East, and a sincere desire to help the Arab citizens of Israel fully integrate into Israeli society (some Israeli Arabs identify with the “Palestinian cause,” some with the State of Israel, but most are confused about which identity to adopt)
The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005
In a unilateral attempt to reduce tensions with the Arabs, Israel dismantled all its settlements in the Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the northern West Bank in 2005. Israel gave the Gaza Strip to the PA, but Hamas soon took it over in a violent coup and since then Hamas continues to threaten Israel by firing missiles and digging attack tunnels through which it intends to send squads of terrorists.
The memory of the Hamas takeover of the Gaza strip is fresh in Israelis’ minds and impacts the way Israelis think of the West Bank. It’s not sufficient to talk about Israeli military control of the West Bank as if that is the only thing going on there. Unless and until the PA is willing to accept meaningful peace terms with Israel, Israel’s continued military control of the West Bank must be considered a reasonable defensive action. If the PA sets up a state on the West Bank under the conditions they demand, Hamas and other radical Islamist groups with help from Iran, would soon take over and attack Israel the way they do from the Gaza Strip.
The UNSC doesn’t understand it is jeopardizing the Christian and Jewish religious sites on the West Bank, including in Jerusalem
Note well that if Hamas and the other radical Islamist groups take over the West Bank, they would certainly destroy all the Christian and Jewish religious heritage sites they can find.
The presence of Israeli settlements on the West Bank is not an obstacle to the two-state solution
Are Israeli settlements on the West Bank “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”, as UNSC 2334 says? They are only if you assume that to have peace a future Palestinian state must encompass the whole West Bank, including all of Jerusalem. But a Palestinian state does not have to take up the whole West Bank, it need only be large enough to encompass the land the Arabs now occupy, with room to grow into, which is what Israel has been offering all along, with generous terms.
Is peace impossible if the Arabs don’t keep the whole West Bank exclusively for themselves, free of Jews (which they demand)? What if the Arabs start another intifada, won’t that be the end of the possibility of peace? We’ve had intifadas before and yet we still spoke of peace, even with Israeli settlements on the West Bank.
If the Arabs keep the whole West Bank exclusively for themselves, free of Jews, will peace be possible then? There was no peace before Israel recaptured the West Bank. Whether or not the Arabs get to keep the whole West Bank exclusively for themselves is not in itself a guarantee of peace.
What is a workable two-state solution and why haven’t we achieved it? The third party in the picture.
Unless a future sovereign Palestinian state is carefully demilitarized there will be no peace. Peace is attainable if the world disarms Hamas and the PLO, and forces the future Palestinian state, whatever it’s size, to be peaceful. The world must also take into consideration Iran’s influence on Hamas and other local extreme Islamist groups, and the presence of ISIS in the neighborhood.
If we know what peace looks like, why hasn’t it been achieved? The problem isn’t that a two-state solution is impossible because of Israeli settlements, the problem is that the world outside the Middle East, mainly the Christian West, is a problem. They control the purse strings, the UN, the EU, and the US.
The world, as represented by the UN, the EU, and the US before the presidency of Donald Trump, believes that peace can be attained by giving the homeland of the Jewish People entirely and exclusively to the Arabs. But the world doesn’t understand that the extremist Arabs will not be satisfied with anything less than the destruction of what’s left of the Jewish state after that. Why does the world have this unrealistic image of the Middle East?