Since its coming of age and Israel’s declaration of Independence, the UN has majorly been the pillar of hostility towards Israel in the International Community. Under the banner of Human Rights and equality, the UN passed countless resolutions either addressing or condemning the State of Israel.
For the most part, Israel has received a lack of support from the strong P5 – US, Russia, China, France and Britain, the only countries which are able to veto the UN’s operative resolutions in the Security Council, and has been constantly fighting for international recognition in the face of an Islamic majority in most of the United Nation’s bodies.
When it all began – the history of the UN and Israel
When it concerns UN’s biased approach towards the State of Israel, we are looking at definitive and concerning statistics:
- As of 2013 Israel has been condemned in more than 45 Resolutions by the UNHRC. Since the HRC’s creation in 2006, the council passed more resolutions condemning the Jewish state than the rest of the world combined – including countries where basic human rights are nonexistent. Those 45 resolutions dealing with Israel compromised almost half of all country-specific resolutions.
- From 1967 to 1989, the UN Security Council passed 131 Resolutions concerning the Middle East Conflict between Israel and Palestine.
If we wish to further inspect the collision between the UN and Israel, we must delve even deeper into the past.
Most notably, the banner of the UN’s ludicrous approach towards Israel is marked in the notorious (thankfully cancelled) Resolution 3379 – “Zionism is Racism”. The Resolution was adopted in November 10th, 1975, by the General Assembly. The Resolution determined that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. The resolution was passed with the support of the Soviet Bloc and other (then) Soviet-aligned nations. Not surprisingly, the resolution was unanimously backed and supported by the Arab and Muslim majority countries.
Chaim Herzog, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN at the time, responded with definitive measures to the resolution. At the end of a long speech degrading and revealing the nature of it, Herzog stated “For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such.”
As he concluded his speech, Herzog tore a copy of the resolution in half. The name of “The UN avenue” in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was switched to “The Zionism avenue” as a response to the UN’s decision.
Israel also received somewhat strong back-wind from the US – before the vote on the resolution itself, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the US Ambassador to the UN, warned that “The United Nation is about to make anti-Semitism International Law.”
Resolution 3379 became the first resolution to be fully revoked by the UN. On December 1991, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 46/86, revoking the determination in Resolution 3379, effectively toppling it and shoving it under the table. The revocation was backed by 111 countries, as opposed to 25 against and 13 abstentions.
The bias did not stop there, however. Israel was met with decisive resistance by the International Community, centered at the UN, for Military actions to preserve security, defending against terrorist attacks such as the first and second intifadas, and non-aggressive actions in the West Bank.
At that point in time, things certainly looked bleak for the Jewish State. With BDS dominating the Western World, boycotts and frequent events of anti-Semitism, Israel desperately needed a stable, unified backbone of support in the International Community if it is to regain any legitimization.
Israel-US Relations as an Asset for Israel in the UN
One of Israel’s most promising allies in the UN has been the United States. Throughout the candidacies of US Presidents – good ties between Israeli and US officials were crucial for Israel’s survival as a legitimate state in the International Community and as a whole.
The United States’ favor, as one of the P5 which is able to cast a veto on Security Council Resolutions, has always been mandatory for the Jewish State. The US, in return, sees good relations with Israel as a source to extend its reach to the Middle East, promoting its interests and position throughout the destabilized region of conflicts. Cooperation with Israel in modern times allows the US to exchange knowledge and hone its skills in the fields of Cybersecurity, Counterterrorism, and others, learning from one of the top countries military-wise.
The influence of Obama’s Government on Israel in the UN
Obama was inaugurated to the White House twice. With a much more conceding approach towards the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, he has made many attempts to mark himself as the US President who successfully brought peace to the Middle East, a long-sought achievement in the line of US Presidents. Things have not went smoothly between him and Israeli PM Netanyahu, who is now holding two candidacies in a row.
Obama’s Delegation made many efforts which eventually yielded no desired results, as reflected upon in John Kerry’s statement back when he was the US Secretary of State and in charge of mediating between the two sides – “You can force a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.
Further bickering between Israeli PM Netanyahu and Obama regarding the conflict erupted in what seemed to be a rupture in relations back in 2015-2016. Obama’s policy, in the end, did not guarantee complete US support for Israel in the UN, and thus jeopardized the Jewish State’s position.
Obama’s approach towards Israel goes hand in hand with his evasive view regarding the connection between Radical Islam and terrorism – throughout his candidacy, not once has he referred to the Islamic origin of terror. This can be demonstrated in his reaction to the Orlando Nightclub Shooting in June 12, 2016.
It all reached a new low towards the end of Obama’s second term, however – on December 2016, the UN Security Council convened to discuss the Israeli Settlements in the West Bank. In that discussion, the US abstained from casting a veto, allowing the council to adopt a resolution which censured Israel and condemn Israeli Actions in the West Bank. The abstention was the first time that Obama’s administration stepped aside and allowed the UNSC to adopt a resolution against Israel.
Following the incident, US President Donald Trump blasted the UN and the Administration, saying “things will be different after January 20.”
The change following the inauguration of US President Donald Trump
On the diplomatic front, since his official entrance to the White House, Trump was quick to deliver on his promises after the incident in the UN. On January 27, 2017, a new US Ambassador to the UN was nominated – Nikki Haley, and she immediately reflected her unrelenting support towards Israel, bashing the UN at will.
She criticized the UN’s biased approach towards Israel. Furthermore, the she claimed that Israel will “never again question US support in the UN”. To back such claims, the US administration to the UN began considering its withdrawal from the Human Rights Council, forcing a drastic and quick change in its approach at the spot.
The breakthrough shifting in the UN approach is also due to the fact that the US a central pillar that’s keeping the organization together – among others, it hosts the UN Headquarters in NYC. Soon after US threats to leave the HRC, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sent a very clear message to the council:
“We must speak up for Human Rights in an impartial way without double-standards. We must invest in Human Rights and recognize Human Rights’ values and goals unto themselves, not allowing them to be instrumentalized as a political tool. And indeed, the integrity and credibility of this Council will only be enhanced by proceeding in a manner that avoids unbalanced treatments of Member States.”
In a clear message, the UN Secretary General recommended a change of approach by the HRC, figuratively towards Israel, in order to preserve US favor and desire to continue its contribution and involvement in the UN.
This was followed by close discussions held between Israel and the US to formulate a joint approach with regard to the UNHRC. The talks came in advance of the UNHRC publications of a data base – known to Israel as the “black list” – of companies doing business with West Bank settlements or Jewish entities in east Jerusalem.
It is already proven that a continuous pressure from the US to withdraw from UN organization could force it, as a whole, to change policy on Israel. The inter-governmental body has condemned Israel more times than it has any other country combined.
And now we enter a brink of change, one where Israel may, in the near future, face less hostility and condemnations from the UN and the International Community due to unconditional support from Trump’s administration. The difference between Obama and Trump’s policies is truly blissful and beneficial towards Israel concerning involvement in the grand scale of legitimization.
We might as well could be looking at a future where the Israeli delegation to the UN can stand proud in the Human Rights Council session and announce, without any repercussions this time – “The State of Israel is Present and Voting!”
And not be condemned in the end, of course.