On December 23, 2016 the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2334 reaffirming the world’s judgment that Israel should return land taken in the June 1967 war, subject only to mutually agreed upon adjustments. It reflects a continued international commitment to a two-state solution for the Israel/Palestinian conflict. The resolution called the ongoing Israeli settlement project a flagrant violation of international law.
But it seems clear now, after 50 years of Israeli occupation and settlement of the West Bank, that Israel will never voluntarily help to create a Palestinian state. Israel’s vehement response to Resolution 2334 speaks volumes that the time when Israel may have been willing to “exchange land for peace” has long passed. It seems equally clear that international law is impotent to bring about a two-state-solution, and that the international community lacks resolve.
At least that’s the judgment of Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.
Israel’s reaction to Resolution 2334 was apoplectic.
Ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned New Zealand that its support of the resolution was “a declaration of war,” and after the vote, Israel withdrew its ambassador to New Zealand and barred New Zealand’s ambassador to Israel. Netanyahu told his ministers on Sunday to stay away “from those countries that voted against us.” Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer called the Obama administration a “runaway train” for failing to veto this reaffirmation of international law principles. Netanyahu lectured John Kerry: “friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.”
On Monday, Netanyahu doubled down, saying “Israel is a proud country. . . . We don’t turn the other cheek. . . . . The nations of the world respect strong countries that stand up for themselves. They do not respect weak and obsequious countries that bow their heads.” He called the U.S. abstention “a disgrace.” “They betrayed us,” he said.
Netanyahu canceled a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May and a visit to Israel by the Ukrainian prime minister. Meanwhile, Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called an upcoming peace conference in Paris “a modern version of the Dreyfus trial.” Lieberman also ordered Israeli officials to cut all civil and diplomatic contacts with the Palestinian Authority.
Education minister Naftali Bennett compared support for the resolution with “planes hitting buildings and trucks killing people in Berlin.”
It all adds up to Netanyahu and his government poking a finger in the eye of world opinion. The Israeli right that is in control of Israel doesn’t care what the world thinks. They will not “exchange land for peace,” they will not help create a Palestinian state, they will not stop settlements, they will not end the occupation.
“This is just another instance of the UN ganging up on Israel,” lamented Ron Dermer. But the reality is other: Israel’s vehement response to Resolution 2334 amounts to a big rejection of the Palestinians and the international community.
Here is a closer look at Resolution 2334:
The Security Council,
Reaffirming its relevant resolutions . . . Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, . . .
Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem . . . .
Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines, . . .
Recalling also the obligation . . . for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons,
Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders . . .
1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, . . . constitutes a flagrant violation under international law . . .
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory. . .
3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 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 . . .;
5. Calls upon all States . . . to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;
6. Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and . . . for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism;
7. Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law, . . . to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace;
8. Calls upon all parties to . . . launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process . . . ;
9. Urges . . . the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions . . . and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;
10. Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement;
11. Reaffirms its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions; . . . .
What’s to dislike here, unless you reject the very concept of a two-state-solution?
The status quo is leading toward one state, or perpetual occupation,” said John Kerry in his speech this morning.
But we are past “leading toward.” The moment has arrived. For the next four years Israel, it appears, will have enthusiastic support from the American administration for its one state reality and occupation. Incoming president Donald Trump has nominated an ambassador to Israel who raises funds for West Bank settlements, who refers to the West Bank by its biblical names Judea and Samaria, who was bar mitzvahed at the Western Wall, who has spent his summers at an apartment in Jerusalem since 2002, who rejects a two-state-solution for the West Bank and Gaza, and who has described Jewish supporters of a two-state solution, as “far worse than kapos—Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps.” Under Trump’s leadership, commitment to a two-state solution was removed from the Republican platform. See, e.g WSJ.
Perpetual occupation is the official policy of Israel and, in 23 days, the official policy of the United States. Resolution 2334 marks the formal end point of the two-state solution.
This post first appeared on Roland Nikles’s site today.