Arab League and Palestinian Authority to block Israeli bid for UN Security Council seat

Israel/Palestine
on 5 Comments

The Arab League on Sunday approved the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) request to create a committee aimed at stopping the State of Israel’s bid to become one of the ten non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UN SC) — a mere day before the Israel-Africa Summit was called off amid growing pressure.

The PA hopes the committee will help to knock down Israel’s chances at winning the bid to be on the council for the 2019-2020 term. However,  how the committee plans to exert its pressure is unknown. Representatives from the Palestine Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment.

The UNSC is composed of 15 members, five of which are permanent: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The other ten members are non-permanent and are elected for two-year terms. Currently, Egypt is the only Arab state on the council.  

Israel is the only recognized Middle Eastern country never to have held a seat on the UN SC. Palestine is not considered a fully recognized state internationally and therefore could not hold a seat.

Currently, Germany and Belgium are in the race along with Israel for the two seats assigned to the “Western Europe and Others Group” (WEOG), which Israel was only allowed to join in 2000, after being barred for years from from seeking high-profile seats in the UN.

Israel announced its plan to run for the 2019 seat in 2005, when then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was received by the UN following its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. The state chose to announce its plans so far in the future because the two slots for the WEOG had been bid on for each term up until 2019.

While the Jerusalem Post reported in June that Israel was “doing little” to promote its bid for a seat on the UN SC — outside of making its interest clear — Bloomberg found in August that the state was pushing hard for the seat, despite Israel’s controversial reputation in the world body.

Earlier this year Israel announced it would withhold $8 million of its $11 million annual membership fee at the UN after two resolutions critical of Israel were passed at the UN SC and UNESCO within a six month period.  In December the UN SC voted to approve a resolution that condemned Israel’s settlements as illegal obstacles to the peace process (with the U.S. abstaining), then in May UNESCO passed a resolution that described Jerusalem as “occupied” and declared that Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem was “null and void.”

Palestinian-American author and columnist Ramzy Baroud told Mondoweiss that he believes Israel’s push to renew its commitment to its bid for the Security Council seat could show a shift in Israel’s international diplomatic strategy.

“The irony is that Israel has spent many years delegitimizing the UN and torpedoing its efforts of implementing international law regarding the situation in Palestine,” Baroud said. “The strategy of elevating its status at the UN can been seen as an admission of failure of that antagonistic strategy. But if Israel wins that seat, it is likely to use the new position to strengthen its occupation of Palestine, as opposed to adhere to international law. With the US on its side, Israel would labor to prevent any efforts aimed at criticizing its illegal settlement policies or any other illegal practices.”

Regardless of Israel’s historically critical stance against the UN, Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Bloomberg in August that he believed Israel has a good chance of knocking Belgium out of the running through the help of Saudi Arabia and its Arab neighbors, who now count on Israel as an ally against Iran.

However, the Arab League’s vote to work against Israel’s bid could turn the tables, potentially taking away any hopes Israel may have had in capitalizing on Arab alliances against Iran.

In addition, part of Israel’s campaign has focused on gaining support from African nations, but those efforts might also be for naught, as it was announced Monday that the Africa-Israel Summit in Togo would be canceled partially due to Togo’s political crises, but also as a result of ongoing pressure from the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), South Africa and Arab states.

“The conference was meant to be the pinnacle of Israel’s diplomatic triumph in Africa,” Baroud explained. “Calls for boycott – in which South Africa played a major role – and the possible absence of notable African governments led to its cancellation. This too shall prove consequential when the vote over Israel’s UN seat is held.”

Meanwhile, the PA hopes to use its pressure in the Arab League to hinder Israel’s bid even further, but the government is doing so less than a year before the vote, a time crunch that could become an obstacle to the newly formed committee’s efforts.

“It is unfortunate that the Arabs and the Palestinian Authority are waking up to this reality quite late. Israel has been plotting for this moment for years, and the PA is just now requesting an Arab League strategy to prevent Israel from reaching that influential position,” Baroud said.

“What Palestinians are counting on at the moment is existing historical support that the Palestinian people have among many countries around the world, especially in the South,” he added. “Most of these nations have experienced colonization, military occupation and had their own liberation struggles. They should not allow a colonialist regime to set atop of the UN, obstructing international law, while preaching to world about democracy and human rights.”

 

About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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5 Responses

  1. Kay24
    September 12, 2017, 12:40 pm

    The inmates will then be running that asylum. Perhaps when Israel has ended it’s endless occupation, stopped the building of illegal settlements (which is against UN regulations), and allow those they hold under siege to be free, they will have the moral authority to hold that seat.
    Personally, I doubt Israel will ever be trusted by other nations, and it has the record of being one of the most disliked nations in the world. I would agree that there are other nations not worthy of being in that council, but we are discussing one of the world’s top occupiers, and human rights abusers, who has a long list of condemnations, and world criticism, some of course vetoed by the good ole’ USA. Will the US as usual save the day for it’s dear ally?

  2. JosephA
    September 12, 2017, 9:22 pm

    South Africa was reformed. Israel can evolve to a nation that respects the rights of non-Jews. It must evolve into a non-zionist entity if it wishes to survive.

  3. US Citizen
    September 13, 2017, 12:24 am

    If Israel is withholding their payments to the UN or any other international body then they should be denied a seat at the table, any table. I’m so over their sneaky, machiavallian machinations.

    When the US and international community start applying pressure on the israelis to actually accept living in peace next to Palestine let me know. Until then all of their numerous proxy organizations on the ground are just producing anti-Palestinian/Islamophobic propaganda.

    Israelis want to be treated like a normal decent human beings? Let them act like it first and end their barbarism against the Palestinians. Until then they deserve scorn, contempt, isolation and sanctions. Until then they aren’t entitled to even one iota of respect and should be treated accordingly.

    The Palestinians will remain and prevail – I hope – and remind the Israelis that their homeland, Israel, is built on a graveyard.

  4. oldgeezer
    September 13, 2017, 1:45 pm

    It is beyond ludicrous to think that a nation in violation of 70+ UNSC resolutions could be given a seat on the UNSC. Let alone the constant violent defamation of the UN by the criminals that constitute the GoI

    Is there any other nation in such bad standing? Has there ever been one?

  5. JLewisDickerson
    September 13, 2017, 4:20 pm

    RE: “[I]t was announced Monday that the Africa-Israel Summit in Togo would be canceled partially due to Togo’s political crises . . .” ~ Sheren Khalel

     One family has ruled Togo for 50 years. Huge protests are shaking its grip on power.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/09/13/one-family-has-ruled-togo-for-50-years-huge-protests-are-shaking-their-grip-on-power

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