UN’s historical anti-Israel resolution, consequences, implications

Alwaght– In a historical move, the UN Security Council on Friday has voted in favor of a resolution demanding the halt of settlement activity by the Israeli regime on occupied Palestinian territory with the United States conspicuously abstaining.

The resolution was presented at the 15-member council for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, a day after Egypt withdrew it following intense pressure from the Israeli regime and US president-elect Donald Trump.

In a surprising move, the US refused to veto it, reversing its longstanding policy of shielding the Israeli regime from condemnatory resolutions at the world body. The resolution was passed with 14 votes in favor and one abstention by the US.

According to US media reports, President Obama personally directed Friday that the US abstain from the resolution condemning Israeli regime’s settlement activity. Obama reportedly believes that the escalation of settlement building is an increasing threat to the viability of a two-state solution to the region’s problems.  Ahead of the expected vote, Obama, who is vacationing with his family in Hawaii, convened a discussion Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and other top national security officials.

Obama’s futile attempt to secure a legacy

The decision to abstain from the vote and thus allow the passing of the resolution is apparently yet another belated attempt by the lame duck Obama to leave a lasting foreign policy. The US’ refusal to veto the UNSC resolution on Israeli settlements was a symbolic move which marks a short-lived turning point in Washington’s policy regarding the Israeli regime. Obama’s move is also seen as a final act in his strained relations with the defiant Netanyahu.

Obama abstention at the UN is symbolic since the Security Council resolution on settlements can easily be reversed by the newly elected president. If Obama was really serious on a lasting legacy vis-à-vis the Palestinian issue, he should have pushed for the recognition of Palestine.

Indeed, Obama move is futile as already Israeli regime’s ambassador at the UN Danny Danon has said, “I have no doubt that the new US administration and the incoming UN secretary-general will usher in a new era in terms of the UN’s relationship with Israel.”

Trump said in a tweet: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan 20th.”

Therefore, the passage of the resolution changes nothing on the ground between Israel and the Palestinians, and likely will be all but ignored by the incoming Trump administration.

Israeli Regime’s Isolation

Meanwhile the vote has sharply underlined the extent of Israeli regime’s international isolation under hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The vote showed the emptiness of Netanyahu’s boast at the September UN general assembly over Tel Aviv’s purported diplomatic advances at the UN especially among African members. In a fit of anger, the Israeli regime has recalled its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal, who voted for the resolution, cancelling a planned visit by the Senegalese foreign minister to Tel Aviv in three weeks and cancelling all aid programs to the African country.

However, the Israeli regime as Netanyahu has already stated will totally disregard this resolution just like it ignored other UN resolutions without any significant consequences. In any case, Friday’s resolution is a departure from the past and a significant step and as the Palestinian representative to the UN noted, it will require “vigilant follow-up if it is to be meaningful.”