Changing voting patterns at the UN?

The UNESCO vote denying the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall does not bode well for the PM’s promise that things are changing at the UN.

The Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem  (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem
(photo credit: REUTERS)
‘What I’m about to say is going to shock you: Israel has a bright future at the UN,” was how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu open his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month.
Netanyahu listed the litany of absurd UN resolutions against Israel and its obsession with the Jewish state. He spoke about the “joke called the UN Human Rights Council, which each year condemns Israel more than all of the countries of the world combined” and of UNESCO, which passed a resolution last year denying the connection between the Jewish people and its holiest site, the Temple Mount.
“That’s just as absurd as denying the connection between the Great Wall of China and China,” Netanyahu told the assembly. It is and he is right.
But Netanyahu also told the assembly that all of that is about to change “a lot sooner than you think.”
Netanyahu explained that Israel has relations with double the number of countries it did 30 years ago when he was ambassador, that Israel’s capabilities in fighting terrorism, its technological ingenuity, its scientific prowess, its cybersecurity knowhow and its agricultural genius were all changing the way Israel is perceived.
The day is not far off, he added, when Israel “will be able to rely on many countries to stand with us at the UN.”
The belief that Israel’s increasing weight in the international arena can and should also be reflected in international forums is a theme the prime minister has been pushing strongly of late. He said the same in meetings with the Israeli media recently, including with the editorial board of The Jerusalem Post.
In all fairness, the prime minister did not say that the change would be just around the corner. During a trip to Africa in the summer he gave a decade as a timeline to achieve the goal of changing the automatic majority against Israel at the world body.
Yesterday UNESCO once again voted on a resolution that denies historical Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
The vote was only preliminary and the formal vote will take place only next week, but it is hardly an auspicious start to Netanyahu’s forecasted metamorphosis of the United Nations – more like a resounding slap in the face.
The vote was approved by 26 states, 24 abstained and only six voted against – the United States, Great Britain, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Germany and Estonia.
Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, noted the fact that several countries had reversed their ballots from the previous vote. One was France, whose vote had sparked a diplomatic crisis between the countries, followed by Sweden, Slovenia, India, Argentina, and Togo. They all switched their vote from in favor to abstain and, as Hacohen pointed out, none of the European countries voted in favor of the resolution.
But it can also be seen as a failure that Israel failed to get so many European countries to vote against such an obviously false and malicious resolution – a resolution that really does, as Netanyahu pointed out in his UN speech, make an organization that started out as a moral force into a moral farce.
The Christian European countries after all share a legacy with the Jewish people that is ipso facto denied by the denial of Jewish ties to the holy sites. If there is no Jewish legacy at the Temple Mount, then surely by extension there is no Christian legacy there either.
China, with which Israel enjoys constantly improving relations and booming trade ties, voted for the resolution, as did Russia, with whose President Vladimir Putin Netanyahu meets on a regular basis. Vietnam, a country with which trade ties are growing exponentially, also cast its vote for the resolution.
Netanyahu also spoke at the UN of changing Arab attitudes, although Egypt, Jordan, and Qatar were sponsors of the UNICEF resolution.
Diplomatic sources described the vote as a step down the path to changing voting patterns, noting that several countries had switched their ballot and that the preamble to the resolution had stated the importance of Jerusalem to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Nevertheless, the passing of such a bizarre, biased, overtly false and even antisemitic resolution does not bode well for Israel’s diplomacy and the hope for a new spirit at the UN.