Israel is gaining significant ground among the countries of Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, but losing badly in Europe. That is according to a breakdown of how countries in the UN voted regarding Jerusalem on Thursday, compared to how they voted in 2012 – on whether to admit “Palestine” as a non-member observer state.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made the making of diplomatic inroads into Africa, Latin America and Asia the hallmark of his foreign policy, said on CNN over the weekend that it may “take about 10 years before the absurd automatic majority against Israel may change.” If the current trend holds, it will take another 14 years before the Palestinians will no longer be able to muster 50% of the 193-member body to vote against Israel.In the November 2012 vote, 138 states – or fully 71.5% of the General Assembly – backed the Palestinians and voted against Israel, and another 55 either abstained or did not vote.
Benjamin Netanyahu to CNN: About time US recognized Jerusalem as capital and whether other countries will do the same, December 22, 20
By comparison, on Thursday 128 countries, or 66.3% of the General Assembly, voted against Israel – a net gain this time of just over 5%. If 5% of the General Assembly moves in Israel’s direction every five years, then by the year 2032, the automatic majority will be chipped away.The region that showed the greatest shift toward Israel when comparing these two votes is the Caribbean. In 2012, fully 77% of the 13 Caribbean states at the UN voted against Israel, a number that was whittled down this time to only 38%. Most significantly, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic switched from voting against Israel to abstaining this time.Not far behind the Caribbean islands in percentage shift toward Israel was Central America. In 2012, six of the eight Central American states, or 75%, voted against Israel. Last week, only three – Belize, Costa Rica and Nicaragua – did so.Most significantly, Mexico changed from voting against Israel to abstaining, and both Guatemala and Honduras were among the nine countries that voted with Israel and the US. In 2012, Honduras voted against Israel, while Guatemala abstained.Just weeks after the US announced its embassy move, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced that he had instructed his foreign ministry to follow suit and begin moving the embassy to Jerusalem. The change in South American voting was much less pronounced, though Argentina’s switch from voting against Israel in 2012 to abstaining on Thursday was a sign of how much relations between Jerusalem and Buenos Aires have improved since President Mauricio Macri was elected in 2014. Still, nine of South America’s 12 countries voted against Israel last week, compared to 10 in 2012.There was a 12.5% shift in Israel’s favor in Asia, though India’s vote against Israel this time, as they did in the 2012 ballot, was surely a disappointment for Netanyahu, who has cultivated very close ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and will be traveling there next month.In 2012, fully 91% of the 32 Asian countries in the UN voted against Israel, compared to 78% this time. Among the countries that did not vote against Israel on the Jerusalem issue, but did so in 2012, were Bhutan, Georgia, the Philippines, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste and Myanmar.A similar improvement was recorded in Africa, where Netanyahu has traveled three times in the last 18 months, and where he is trying to make significant inroads based on the interest there for Israeli expertise in water management, agriculture, technology and security.These efforts have paid off to a certain degree, but perhaps not as much as could have been expected: There was an 11% tilt toward Israel this time, with 68.5% of the 54 African countries voting against Israel, as opposed to some 79.5% in 2012.The 10 African countries that changed their votes in Israel’s favor were Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome-Principe, Lesotho, Benin, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. One African country, Togo, actually voted for Israel.Four African countries, however, moved in the other direction – from not supporting the anti-Israel measure in 2012, to doing so this time: Madagascar, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. Liberia was a disappointment, inasmuch as Netanyahu traveled there earlier this year.Ethiopia was also a disappointment from Jerusalem’s perspective, since it voted against Israel both in 2012 and 2017. Israel and Ethiopia enjoy strong ties, with the prime ministers of both countries having exchanged visits over the last 18 months.But the worst news for Israel, not-surprisingly, came from Europe.Among the 28 European Countries, fully 22, or 78.5%, voted against Israel on Thursday, including countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Slovakia, which in the past could have been counted on to at least abstain on anti-Israel measures – especially Germany.In 2012, only 50% of the 28 EU countries supported the Palestinian statehood move.The European countries that shifted from abstaining to voting against Israel were Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.Six EU countries abstained – Croatia, the Czech Republic (which voted with Israel in 2012), Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania.Not a single additional EU country voted for Israel this time. And it should be noted that Netanyahu met with all 28 EU foreign ministers in Brussels about a week before the vote.Likewise, Israel did not fare any better – and in fact did a tad worse – among the European countries in the UN that are not EU members, such as Norway, Switzerland, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. In 2012, only eight of the 17 non-EU European countries, or 47%, voted with the Palestinians. This time, that number rose to 13, or 76%.Among the countries that moved to vote against Israel were Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro.
128 countries defy Trump, vote for UN resolution slamming his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, December 21, 2017 (Reuters)