Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Procrastination and Hypocrisy Characterize Resolutions on Palestine, Nuclear Weapons

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Procrastination and Hypocrisy Characterize Resolutions on Palestine, Nuclear Weapons

Article excerpt

As usual, as 2014 draws to a close, Palestine and Israel dominate the contested part of the U.N. agenda. And as usual, the debates and diplomatic tussles involve huge amounts of hypocrisy. The U.S. is firmly and vociferously against countries that break international law, and against nuclear proliferation-unless, of course, one particular member state with too many friends in Congress is on the agenda.

In December, the Arab states were about to move a resolution in the Security Council to accept Palestine into full U.N. membership, which certainly has the backing of most of the U.N. members in the General Assembly. It also called for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories by 2016-nearly half a century since Israel's illegal occupation began.

A group of European states reportedly is countering with a procrastinatory resolution calling for a two-year timeline for peace talks. It is insincere and unprincipled, even though it probably will be superficially less sensitive to Israeli standing than American diplomats would dare be. For a start, it almost will certainly not include any sanctions on Israel for continuing to build settlements and continuing its joint blockade of Gaza with Egypt. Sadly, there are signs that the Arabs might accept it.

As graphically demonstrated in the recent votes in various European parliaments-Ireland, France and Britain, for example-European leaders have a different problem from their American counterparts. The faintest of criticism of Israeli law-breaking from the White House or State Department will have several hundred congressmen whipped in to howl their protests. In contrast, even though European parliamentarians are well aware of the David-and-Goliath disparity between the Palestinians under occupation and their massively armed occupiers, the leaders of the major European countries persist in depicting it as a fair fight between opponents of equivalent strength.

In effect, they adopt the longstanding U.S. position that, when the international community sees a recidivist law-breaker in action, the appropriate response is to call upon the victim to enter into unconditional and unsupported negotiations with the criminal, and prepare to make the "painful" but "necessary" concessions to secure peace.

The ruling elites of Europe do not have Obama's excuse of domestic pressure.

As we have seen over more than a decade, the Palestinians have been better global citizens. They have called upon the Israelis to obey the law-and on the great powers to enforce it. Over several decades now at the United Nations and in similar related bodies, such as the signatories of the Geneva Convention, they have built a supporting architecture of legal decisions and binding resolutions.

Far from enforcing the international laws and conventions the Palestinians have invoked, however, the U.S. and the Europeans have poured treasure, armaments and diplomatic support to the world's number one scofflaw. Germany provides advanced nuclear-capable submarines to the world's biggest nuclear power outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Confronted with Israel's defiance of its appeals over settlements, Washington replenishes and enhances the weapons stockpiles that Israel used in its summer assault on Gaza.

The ruling elites of Europe do not even have Obama's excuse of domestic pressure. Their policy is to support Israel in the teeth of their domestic constituencies' recognition of the justice of the Palestinian case. To make matters worse, they are supporting an Israeli government that is the most reactionary and recalcitrant in the history of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

While previous Israeli Labor governments would carry out very similar policies to their Likud successors-they did, after all, begin the annexations and settlement building-they at least took care to give lip service to international law. Somehow Likud and its even more vicious coalition partners are now respected by the political leaders of Europe and even Canada, who applaud their every whim. …

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