Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations.
(photo credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)
Israel’s position on the UN Security Council will improve slightly in 2016, as friendly states such as Japan and Uruguay ascend to the council, and Chad, a hostile state without diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, ends its two-year temporary term.
The new countries will serve on the 15-member council for two years, while five permanent members – the US, Russia, China, France and Britain – and five other temporary members will sit on the council until the end of 2016.
These countries are Angola, Spain, New Zealand, Venezuela and Malaysia.
The newly elected member states, who will serve on until the end of 2017, are Japan, Egypt, Senegal, Uruguay and Ukraine.
Countries are voted onto the council according to their regional groups, which means that in the Asia-Pacific group, Japan, which has a strong relationship with Israel, will replace Jordan, a country that is a harsh critic in international forums, despite its peace treaty and close security relations with Israel.
One senior diplomatic official in Jerusalem said Israel’s relationship with Japan has improved more in the last two years than in the previous 65.
Another improvement for Israel is in the Latin American and Caribbean Group, where Uruguay will replace Chile.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez in June to thank him for his country’s breaking out of the block that automatically votes against Israel in international forums.
In July, Uruguay actually voted with Israel and the US against a proposal to grant observer status to a British- based NGO that Israel linked to Hamas.
Chile, by contrast, voted for a Palestinian resolution taken to the UNSC in December, a resolution that did not pass because it did not get the necessary nine votes. That resolution called for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by 2017 and the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Egypt will replace Chad in the African Group, which is a net benefit for Israel because even though Egypt can be counted on to vote against Israel on every occasion, it does not harbor the unbridled hostility of Chad, with which Israel does not even have diplomatic relations.
With the exit of Chad, the number of countries on the Security Council without diplomatic ties with Jerusalem has dropped from three to two – Venezuela and Malaysia.
The other African slot on the council will be given to Senegal, a West African Muslim country that replaces Nigeria.
Although Israel has good ties with Senegal and an embassy in Dakar, its relations are not as strong as those with Nigeria, where ties have continued – especially security ties –even though former president Goodluck Jonathan, who enjoyed a strong relationship with Netanyahu, was turned out of office earlier this year.
But Senegal, like Israel and Nigeria, is very wary of Iran, having broken off ties with Tehran in 2011 to protest Iran’s support for separatist rebels (those ties were restored in 2013).
Nigeria abstained in December on the Palestinian resolution at the Security Council, depriving the PA of the nine votes needed either to pass the motion or trigger a US veto.
Ukraine, meanwhile, will be replacing Lithuania as the representative from the Eastern European Group. Lithuania has emerged as a pro-Israel country in the EU, and – along with Britain – abstained on the Palestinian resolution in December, even though two other EU states – Luxembourg and France – voted for the measure.
Ukraine, though not an EU country, is a state with whom Israel does have good relations that have remained strong even though Israel went to great lengths to stay neutral during the Crimean crisis so as not to antagonize Moscow.
On the recent Palestinian initiative to raise their flag at the UN, for instance, Ukraine – like Lithuania – was among the 27 European countries that abstained, rather than vote for the measure, as did 17 other European countries.