If the UN Security Council adopts an Egyptian-backed anti-settlement resolution on Thursday Israel will likely be faced with a rejuvenated boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) effort around the world, Dore Gold said on Thursday.
Gold, a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry and ambassador to the UN, said that Israel is struggling with hostile NGOs that want to advance the BDS agenda in Europe.
“What this resolution will do is leave in its wake a number of initiatives in the NGO community that will require governments taking legal measures to restrict the actions of NGOs who really want to advance a boycott and divestment agenda,” he said.
Gold, during a conference call organized by The Israel Project, would not venture a guess whether the US would veto the resolution, as it did in 2011 to a similar resolution.
The resolution is expected to be brought Thursday afternoon to the Security Council by Egypt, which is presently one of 10 rotating members on the 15-body forum. Each of the five permanent members -- the US, Russia, China, France and Britain -- have veto power.
Although Israel has been bracing for the possibility of a move at the UN, the Egyptian resolution caught Jerusalem by surprise, one diplomatic official said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled an appearance at the National Cyber Defense Authority Center in Beersheba on Thursday afternoon so he could deal with matters surrounding the expected vote.
France's ambassador to Israel, Hélène Le Gal, told reporters that it was likely that France will support the resolution. The support of France, which is pushing an international conference on the Middle East against Israel’s fierce opposition, comes as no surprise.
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Le Gal said the text put forward by Egypt is a milder version of a Palestinian text that circulated early in the month. She said this resolution was “very close to what we are saying publicly about the settlements.” While she did not say for certain how France would vote, she acknowledged that “the text corresponds with our position.”
“I read the resolution myself, and I haven't seen anything contrary to our position,” she said. “The text is balanced.”
Le Gal said that while the resolution considers the settlements as obstacles to peace, it also addresses violence. She said that if the resolution passes, “it will signal that the international community is very worried.”
Gold, meanwhile, expressed dismay that the UN Security Council seems obsessed about settlements, while saying nothing about other cases in the world – such as western Sahara and northern Cyprus – where occupying forces (Morocco and Turkey) are moving in their populations in clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention drawn up after World War II to specifically prevent those types of eventualities.
Repeating Israel's legal position, Gold said that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to the settlements, though he acknowledged Israel's was a minority legal opinion on this matter.
“We are now in aftermath of the fall of Aleppo, and we are seeing ethnic cleansing across the board in Syria, where Sunni Arabs are scared to death, leaving their homes, and moving into Turkey and Europe,” he said.
“And we are seeing the Iranians using the Shi'ite population from Iraq and as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan and moving them into these areas to alter the demographic balance of the Levant. That is exactly what the Fourth Geneva Convention wanted to address, and that is exactly what is being ignored today by the UN,” he said.
“To have everyone be obsessed about Israeli settlements, which frankly are not the case that the international community was worried about after World War II, and have this tragedy in Syria ignored is a very bad development,” he said. “It is bad for the UN, bad for the development of international law, and bad for developing a sense of justice about vulnerable populations losing their homes and becoming refugees around the world.”
Regarding whether Israel's ties with Egypt – often hailed by Netanyahu – will be harmed by the fact that Cairo is sponsoring this resolution, Gold said that while some of the Arab states in the region are indeed Israel's “allies,” that does not mean there are no differences of opinion.
“Egypt has traditionally asserted its leadership in the Arab world by taking an activist stance on affairs at the UN,” he said.
Gold said he did not think this would impact Israeli-Egyptian ties since what is paramount for both countries is concern over the expansion of Iranian influence across the Middle East, and the involvement of Islamic State in northern Sinai.
“We will have differences from time to time,” he said. “The Egyptians don't want to be in an awkward position when an Arab issue comes up and they have nothing to say.”
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