Why do we still support the UN?
Despite recent conflict in Gaza, which erupted after Israel decided to no longer tolerate the constant barrage of rocket fire across its border, the UN General Assembly has decided to recognize Palestine as a state. This afternoon, it granted Palestine “non-member observer state” status.
Doing nothing to ease US and Israel’s apprehension regarding the vote, UN Secretary General sent out a mistaken tweet urging a one-state solution:
This slip up highlights the tension surrounding the issue. Pushing statehood through the UN will only exacerbate the problems already present in the region and creates more by allowing Palestine access to the International Criminal Court.
Palestine has been trying to get their foot in the door of the UN for some time now and this marks their biggest win yet. Last year, Palestine applied for full state recognition as well as membership on UNESCO, the UN’s cultural heritage agency. They failed to gain recognition as a full member state, but still were able to gain entry into UNESCO. In this instance, 11 of the 27 member EU voted to allow Palestine to gain entry, France and Spain among them. Britain, along with several other countries, abstained.
Today, slightly more EU countries voted on Palestine’s side. This marks a subtle but significant shift in attitudes towards Palestine. Britain, who was reluctant a year ago, vowed to support Palestine’s increased status as an observer state this year if simple conditions were met. They weren't and Britain abstained, but it still signifies a change of course.
Britain’s change of heart represents a frightening trend towards greater acceptability of Palestinian statehood, despite their continued hatred of Israel and funding of terrorism. British foreign minister William Hague stated that the preconditions for a “yes” vote consisted of a willingness to continue negotiations with Israel and a guarantee not to take legal action against them. Non-binding and with no way of enforcement, these conditions would have meant nothing. The fact that Britain was willing to support Palestine without them taking real steps towards peace in return is cause for concern.
When Palestine became part of UNESCO, the US and Israel cut off funding, crippling the agency as it lost one-fifth of its funding. “The U.N. body had been forced to slash spending, freeze job hires and cut programs… UNESCO will be crippled," said UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said about the cuts. Since the US is the largest funder of the UN in general, taking a stand on this vote with our wallets would force the UN to reevaluate its values and mission. Allowing the antagonistic Palestine statehood threatens stability and any hope for “peace” (however brief or fleeting) in the Middle East.
Recognizing Palestine as a state gives it a legitimacy it has no claims to. The enhanced status granted today allows Palestine access to, according to Reuters, “International Criminal Court and some other international bodies.” Access to The Hague is most alarming. This would allow them to bring charges against Israel in international court, demeaning the standards of the court and making a mockery of the international communities’ stance on human rights.
The US and Israel need to draw a line in the sand and let the international community know that the security of Israel and its right to exist will not be threatened.