UN resolution on Israeli settlements is a Christmas gift to the world

Gideon Levy writes: On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to establish a Jewish state (alongside an Arab state) in the Land of Israel. Sixty-nine years later, on December 23, 2016, the UN Security Council voted to try to save it. Resolution 2334 that was approved Friday is a gust of good news, a breath of hope in the sea of darkness and despair of recent years.

Just when it seemed that everything was going downhill – the deepening occupation increasingly supported by America, with Europe galloping to the right – along came a Hanukkah resolution that lights a thin candle. When it seemed that the evil ones would remain victorious, along came New Zealand and three other countries and gave the world a Christmas gift.

So thanks to New Zealand, Venezuela and Malaysia. True, the Christmas tree they’ve supplied, with all its sparkling lights, will soon be removed; Donald Trump is already waiting at the gate. But the imprint will remain. Until then, this temporary rejoicing is a joy, despite the expected hangover.

We of course must ask U.S. President Barack Obama in fury: Now you’re doing something? And we must ask the world in frustration: What about actions? But it’s impossible to ignore the Security Council decision that rules that all the settlements are illegal by nature.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can call back his ambassadors, while his right-hand minister Yuval Steinitz can shriek that the resolution is “unfair.” (He has a sense of humor.) And opposition leader Isaac Herzog can babble that “we need to fight the decision with all means.” But there isn’t a person in the world with a conscience who won’t rejoice over the resolution.

There also isn’t a decent Israeli who must fall for the propaganda that calls the resolution “anti-Israeli,” a definition that the Israeli media rushed to adopt – with its characteristic slavishness, of course.

This decision has brought Israel back to the solid ground of reality. All the settlements, including in the territories that have been annexed, including in East Jerusalem of course, are a violation of international law. In other words, they are a crime. No country in the world thinks otherwise. The entire world thinks so – all Israel’s so-called friends and all its so-called enemies – unanimously.

Most probably the tools of brainwashing in Israel, along with the mechanisms of repression and denial, will try to undermine the decision. But when the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia unite in such a clear statement, this will be difficult work.

So you can say “the entire world is against us.” You can scream “anti-Semitism!” You can ask “What about Syria?” In the end this clear-as-crystal truth will remain: The world thinks that the settlements are a crime. All the settlements and all the world.

True, the world doesn’t lift a finger to have the settlements removed, but maybe one day this will happen. Still, it will be too late by then, too late.

Resolution 2334 artificially distinguishes between Israel and the settlements in that it is aimed at the settlements, not the occupation. As if the guilt of Amona were on its settlers and not all Israelis. This deception proves how much the world continues to treat Israel with leniency and hesitates to takes steps against it, as it did with Russia’s conquest of Crimea, for example.

But Israelis who don’t live in Amona, who have never been there, who have no real interest in its fate – it seems most Israelis – have to ask themselves: Is it really worth it? All this for a few settlers they don’t know and don’t really want to know?
Resolution 2334 is meant above all for Israeli ears, like an alarm clock that makes sure to wake you up on time, like a siren that tells you to go down to the bomb shelter. True, the resolution has no concrete value; true, the new U.S. administration promises to erase it.

But two questions won’t let up: Why don’t the Palestinians deserve exactly the same thing that Israelis deserve, and how much can one country, with all its lobbying power, weapons and high-tech, ignore the entire world? On this first day of both Hanukkah and Christmas, we can enjoy, if only for a moment, the sweet illusion that Resolution 2334 will rouse these questions in Israel.

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4 thoughts on “UN resolution on Israeli settlements is a Christmas gift to the world

  1. Dave

    This post is a great example as to why peace in that region is so elusive.

    Mocking the real concerns of many (including many Jews) by commenting that the resolution is a “Christmas gift to the world” – not only discounts the view that the UN has obviously shown bias against Israel over many many years – it also discounts persistent anti-Jewish bias in the UN (ie. anti-semitism) over many years.

    I could pick many examples but to name just one – the Racism=Zionism resolution circa 1975 comes to mind immediately.

    Furthermore the resolution will as I see it likely bring the Israelis and Palestineans further apart. And time is on Israel’s side here. I am all for a 2 state solution if it is one that allows for a viable peaceful Arab state next to Israel. That’s why it is vital for the PA to come to the table and start negotiations. This resolution hardly encourages them to bother…

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to you as well.

    PS Though I was a Obama/Sanders supporter – the GOP happens to be right on this one. Your commentary (it’s insolence and mocking tone notwithstanding) does not sway me further toward your viewpoint.

  2. Paul Woodward

    Dave — Along with a surprising number of other readers, you failed to notice that this piece (like the vast majority of the other material here) was not written by me. I always put the attribution right at the beginning — in this case, “Gideon Levy writes…”

    So, when it comes to analyzing the Haaretz columnist’s inferences and tone, I have nothing else to go on than the actual text. Far from detecting a mocking tone in Levy’s reference to the UN resolution as a “Christmas gift to the world,” I take this at face value as an acknowledgment that at a time when there is so little news that seems positive, this event offers a ray of hope. It’s nothing to get wildly exited about since it has no immediate ramifications, but it does actually represent a global consensus: that Israeli settlements are illegal.

  3. Dave

    Paul – I was referring of course to your title of this post which I found (rightly or wrongly) as having the tone described in my earlier comment…

    If you are going to be technically correct about things – it is the UN body that has interpretted the various statutes under international law and deemed all Jewish settlements and communities east of the green demarcation line as illegal.

    It is also important to remember that the UN is a highly politicized and (yes) highly biased body. And that there are other legal minds that dispute that interpretation.

  4. Paul Woodward

    Dave – my headline drew directly from the text: “along came New Zealand and three other countries and gave the world a Christmas gift.” On Christmas Day for Levy or me to refer to this resolution as a Christmas gift should hardly be taken as provocative — and just for the record, I’m not a Christian (or member of any other faith).

    You point out “there are other legal minds that dispute that interpretation [that the settlements are illegal]” but don’t bother citing any noteworthy opinion.

    Since you want to cast doubt on interpretations of international law presented by the UN, how about the opinion of the Israeli government’s own advisers?

    On September 18, 1967, Theodor Meron, then legal advisor to Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs and a distinguished international lawyer specializing in the law of armed conflict and human rights, in a top secret memorandum advised the Israeli government:

    “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

    No ifs ands or buts — no equivocation: in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    What now? Are you going to tell me the Geneva Convention is not international law? No, that isn’t an invitation to respond — you’ve used up the very limited amount of patience I have for trolls.

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