UN’s Resolution to bring in the new year
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The United Nations (UN) was founded on the principle of preventing another conflict like World War Two from occurring ever again. Idealistically this selected group of countries making decisions that impact the greater whole, would please everyone. While most agree that everyone should do their best to keep world conflicts at bay, the solution is often debated. On December 23, 2016; the UN was not able to prevent a conflict when it voted on a resolution to restore peace between Palestine and Israel in the Middle East.
The Resolution that was put to vote dealt with the conflict in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem where some Israelis have called their home since 1967. The majority of the UN believed that this would help lessen the conflicts in the Middle East since many more Palestinians than Israelis currently reside there. In the Resolution, the UN believes that the Israelis are living there illegally. Up until recently, their presence did not pose an issue until they began to expand their residences.
“[The Resolution] reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard” (UN Resolution).
UN members of Security Council at the time included China, France, Russia, UK, US, Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine, and Uruguay. This means that neither Palestine nor Israel was represented during the vote.
However, like many faced with allegations, Israel denies that their settlements are there illegally. This made it a difficult decision for President Obama since Israel is an ally of the US. Instead of voting for or against the Resolution, US ambassador, Samantha Powers abstained from the vote. The Resolution saw 14 out of the 15 members’ votes, minus the abstain.
Overall, the UN’s decision was seen as a positive improvement by the council members. It is in their opinion that by passing the resolution and taking away the Israeli settlements as a step closer to establishing peace in the Middle East. Obama’s decision to not vote ruffled the feathers in Israel and many supporter. One of his last acts as President was to give $221 Million to Palestinians, in addition to another $1.25 million toward funding the UN.
There is little doubt that then President-elect Donald Trump disagreed with how Obama dealt with the situation. President Trump specifically voiced his opinion about the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with Israel.
“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S.” said then President-elect Trump via Twitter.
Israel did not take kindly to the US not vetoing the resolution because it implies that their citizens have to evacuate the land, which they believe is rightfully theirs.
“If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace,” said the Secretary of State, John Kerry.
The real question that came out of the UN vote seemed to be the effects on Israel. Without the access to East Jerusalem, a city that thrives with multiple religions, Israelis are worried what this means for the Wailing Wall (the western wall in Jerusalem where traditionally many go to pray and weep at the destruction of the temples). Many seem to think, like Kerry, that Israel needs to make a decision to be separate in their religious beliefs and their government. Because of these statements and their lack of involvement in the UN’s decision that was mainly about them, Netanyahu has instructed to invoke funding for the UN.
In the past months since the Resolution passing, there has not been closure for the countries involved. The United States’ position on Israel alone will continue to change with Trump as president. Although the UN cannot change the resolution, how the United States acts in these next coming weeks will set a precedent for their relationship with Israel.