It has been almost a month since the UN Security Council voted 14-0 with one abstention – the United States – to condemn Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
A cause for celebration? To me and perhaps many others, we’re thinking okay…what’s new?
Since the vote I have been mulling it over and scouring my brain for something constructive rather than destructive to say. So, given we are days away from the inauguration of the 46th American President Donald Trump, I took to the internet, to find resolution 2334 to see what it truly said; there were no surprises!
Of course and as you may have read from various news outlets, blogs, and status’, the resolution has had mixed reactions some were happy and many more were annoyed. As a Palestinian and, quite simply, as a human being who values life and justice, the resolution was not something that made me or even others jump up and down with excitement. In fact, and I urge you not to blame this on my Arab cynicism, facts and history have proven to us that the UNSC, in general, has never effectively helped nor even showed any inclination of wanting to help the cause of Palestinians, without having an ulterior motive…so why start now?
Although I was and remain to be pessimistic about the resolution I have found some satisfaction in it, more so the reaction from Israel. The fact that the passing of the resolution was criticised by Benjamin Netanyahu as being “distorted and shameful” is rather ironic and somewhat satisfying. His actions of recalling the ambassadors of the countries who voted for the resolution and halting aid to Senegal is a mere representation of their immaturity and illegitimacy. The world, whether they like to admit or not, were given a preview of how manipulative Israel truly is.
There are so many issues with this resolution and not enough pages or screen space to write all about it but what I can do is provide you with a brief summary.
How did it all start?
The UN Security Council was asked vote to on the resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. The resolution was initially brought forward by Egypt, supported by France and endorsed by the Palestinian authority. Of course and as expected, Egypt was forced to withdraw their support as a result of a phone call the day before, from the US President-Elect, Donald Trump. It was later re-introduced by New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela which put it back on the agenda.
With a beginning, such as this, one can easily decipher the results. Nevertheless, in order to understand the resolution and the extent of its effects on creating valid solutions for the Palestinian/Israeli issue, we must break it apart and read it word for word. As we all know there have been many UNSC resolutions aiming to satisfy both the Palestinians and Israelis, with very little evidence to show for it and this time round is no exception. Amongst many critics and academics, it has been argued that the language used, in this resolution, is significantly weaker and less directed at the bettering of the rights of the Palestinians and this is why….
What does it say?
Prior to this UN resolution, it is worth noting, there were four UNSC resolutions; 446, 452, 465 and 478. These specifically focused on the illegal Israeli settlements and were agreed upon in 1979 and 1980.
In clause 5 and 6 in resolution 465 it says:
5. “Determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;
6. Strongly deplores the continuation and persistence of Israel in pursuing those policies and practices and calls upon the Government and people of Israel to rescind those measures, to dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem”.
In comparison with the current resolution, clauses 1 and 2 of UNSC resolution 2334 :
1. “Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard”.
When analysing these four separate clauses one must notice the fine details and meaning behind the words. In the original clauses, the UNSC uses words that indicate the complete halt of the establishment and construction of settlements as well as dismantling existing ones. Whereas, the current resolution merely refers to only stopping the activities of the current settlements.
Not only this but if we are to look further into the UNSC resolution 2334 in clauses 3 and 4 we see the following:
3. “Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4th June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations” ;
4. “Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution”.
Essentially, when all these clauses are combined, it becomes obvious what they truly refer to. Yes, it is true that the resolution aims to salvage what is left of the Two-State Solution, that the settlements pose a threat to, (not saying the Two-State Solution is a viable solution) but nothing else. It does not, in any shape or form indicate that the construction of settlements will stop. The words that are currently used, by the UNSC resolution, legally allows Israel to keep whatever settlements they already have and what they built before the 1967 line and, of course, this is very problematic. This means any land that was confiscated or stolen pre-67 is legitimately considered as Israeli land when in reality it is not! People were displaced and unrightfully removed from their homes and land. Hence why we are considered as one of the biggest diasporas. The current resolution reiterates that whatever Israel did do and perhaps will continue to do is simply unacceptable and negotiable.
Their invasion and confiscation of Palestinian land is justifiable and can be negotiated.
Unfortunately, in Palestine, clearly being the exception, genocide and apartheid is actually negotiable. Who would have known? The world has time and time again, forced the Palestinian people to succumb to a nation who colonised their land so violently and unfairly. It just makes you realise that we live in a world where ethnic cleansing, genocide, and apartheid has become acceptable and even legally protected. I call it Palestine.
Without quoting nor paraphrasing and as stated in many other resolutions prior to this, there is nothing that indicates how it will be enforced. The settler population is only increasing with time and there is nothing nor any leader, stopping them. Not only this but the fact that the Palestinian authority was amongst the first people to claim it as a victory is somewhat frustrating. The Palestinian authority has accepted the resolution without thinking about what Palestine once was. 1967 Palestine is not Palestine, there were no lines….1967 Palestine is a half-eaten apple that our government has blindly accepted. The resolution is a step back for the Palestinians.
Settler aggression and inhumane attacks on Palestinians continues with absolutely no consequences; in fact, they are celebrated. There is no mention of the Palestinians Right of Return nor their Right to Resist in the resolution nor from the Palestinian authority.
I have never seen such apathy and absolute disregard to the rights of a People, such as I have seen with the Palestinian case. In fact, as a Palestinian, and a Palestinian kicked out prior to the 1967 lines, what I understood from this resolution is that I stay quiet and I do not resist as I still do not have rights that allow me to retrieve my stolen land.
This is why I will always say, the UNSC has no motive to help the Palestinian cause, regardless of what they say and lie about.
So really, nothing has changed. These words on paper are mere scribbles that can be torn apart, changed, or burnt. This resolution means absolutely nothing to me nor the Palestinian people.