The world’s attention will once again be focused on the Gaza Strip, Israel, and the Palestinians in the next few days. All 22 Arab nations have agreed to support a Palestinian State. A resolution before the United Nations, to be voted on in the next couple of day, mandates a final peace agreement between the two parties within a year, and forces Israel to move its settlements back to where they were before the 1967 war by the end of 2017. The United States and Israel have condemned the resolution.
The original proposal was given to the United Nations Security Council on December 17th; the Palestinian cause has been advanced with the support of the Arab nations.
The Security Council is composed of five permanent members: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There are also ten non-permanent members, each with a two-year term elected by the General Assembly; Argentina (2014) Australia (2014) Chad (2015) Chile (2015) Jordan (2015) Lithuania (2014) Luxembourg (2014) Nigeria (2015) Republic of Korea (2014).
Nine votes are needed to pass the resolution. Only the permanent members have veto power. Of the five, only the United States is firmly opposed to the proposition.
The United States is in a very precarious position. If the US votes in favor of the resolution it would severely damage relations with one of its closest allies. The effects would not only affect the nation of Israel, but also cause significant repercussions at home. Nearing a presidential election year, the Jewish vote has great importance in general elections. Virtually every Senator, Congressman, and candidate with political ambitions supports Israel without reservations.
If the United States vetoes the resolution cooperation with allies in the Arab world may see drastic results. Without the involvement of Arab states in the battle against ISIS, the US would be forced to take a far greater role, possibly resulting in another long and costly war in the Mideast.
At the present time diplomats do not believe the Palestinians have the required nine votes. If they do not press for an immediate vote and postpone it until after January 1st, new non-permanent members may be in more favor of the resolution. The new members will be Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, and Venezuela. They will replace Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Rwanda.
Growing European support for a Palestinian State also adds to the United States Conundrum. Five nations have already voted on none-binding resolutions to recognize Palestine; Ireland, France, The United Kingdom, Sweden and Spain.
Reaction by United States government officials was swift and predictable. The most vocal has been from a hawkish Lindsey Graham. The Senator rushed to Israel to promise Netanyahu that if the UN voted to recognize Palestinian Statehood, there would be ‘violent’ action taken by the Congress of the United States against the UN, including the cessation of American monetary remuneration.
Graham criticized the United Nations for any consideration which sets standards for peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Is this the beginning of the end of the United Nations? Since it first began its Charter in October of 1945, it has had little effect precipitating world change. A positive idea has not evolved into an organization with enough power to force alteration of world crises.
The upcoming vote on the Palestinian issue will be significant, if not world changing.
By James Turnage