Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses a United Nations General Assembly.
(photo credit: MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS)
"The world scene today is remarkable for a multiplicity of grave issues and for the marginal role of the United Nations in their solution.”
Who said that? Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon? US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley? Good guesses.
But those opening words were spoken by Abba Eban on October 8, 1968, in his landmark address to the UN outlining Israel’s nine-point peace plan – in response to the Palestine National Covenant issued three months earlier that rejected any possibility of compromise with Israel.
It is unbelievable that the same words can and still need to be said, but things could soon change.
At 3 p.m. Thursday local time, the UN is set to vote on another Middle East proposal, but this vote is unlike any other: This is a proposal by the United States slamming Hamas – by name, for the first time – and asking UN members to condemn the terrorist organization “for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk,” according to a draft text.
The resolution also demands that Hamas “and other terrorist actors, including Islamic Jihad cease all provocative actions and violent activity, including by using airborne incendiary devices,” a reference to the Molotov cocktail balloons and kites that have been launched from Gaza across the border into Israel and have burned thousands of acres of Israeli land.
On Monday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh phoned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and urged him to help the Palestinians thwart the US resolution. Haniyeh told the Turkish minister that the proposed resolution was “harmful to the struggle of the Palestinians and their long history,” and claimed that the resolution contravened international laws and conventions that “legitimize resistance to the occupation with all methods.”
This is ridiculous. One cannot construe the launching of incendiary kites as legitimate resistance; it is, in all its naked form, an attack on Israeli civilians, itself contrary to every convention of war ever passed.
The irony of Thursday’s vote taking place in the middle of Hanukkah is not lost on Israel. What is Hanukkah if not the triumph of light over dark, of good over evil, of the justice of the sovereignty of the Jewish people and the return to their land and most holy of places, the Temple Mount? Indeed, US Ambassador David Friedman tweeted on Monday, “More than 2,000 years ago, Jewish patriots (Maccabees) captured Jerusalem, purified the Holy Temple and rededicated it as a house of Jewish worship. The UN can’t vote away the facts: Jerusalem is the ancient and modern capital of Israel. Happy Hanukkah from this blessed city!”
So obvious, as any history book will recount. But such an apparent truth is not accepted by all, and was challenged by Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who tweeted back: “U are working on a New Peace Initiative that we all hope will be fair, balanced and successful. But comments like this will be seen as provocative and biased. Not helpful in creating the necessary environment of compromise.”
Is Israel expected to compromise over history?
Thursday’s vote can start to change things. The good news is that the 28 states in the European Union have agreed to back the resolution.
Now is the time for countries with which Israel has strong diplomatic ties – such as India, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Mexico, Panama, Romania, Rwanda, Argentina and Uganda – to show they are friends when we need them.
The decades-long bias against Israel cannot continue indefinitely if the UN is to remain a legitimate player in the arena.
As the United States said in its statement: “The issue is as plain as the resolution’s text. Each country will be asked to vote for or against the activities of Hamas, along with other militant groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad. If the UN cannot bring itself to adopt this resolution, then it has no business being involved in peace discussions.”
Fifty years after Eban’s speech, perhaps it’s time the UN became relevant.
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