Posted tagged ‘UN and Israel’

The end of an era

January 4, 2018

The end of an era, Israel Hayom, Dr. Reuven Berko, January 3, 2018

Most of the Palestinians in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip are waking up. The sparsely attended “days of rage” Hamas and the PA initiated over the issue of Jerusalem signal a disappointing finale because the city used to be an issue that would light up both the Palestinians and Arab nations.

The Gazans are sick of Hamas, and in Judea and Samaria they are tired of the corruption in the PA, and once again an interim government devoted to economic issues that would have Israel’s blessing is being discussed. Some reject the militant candidates for Abbas’ position (Majid Faraj and Mohammed Dahlan) as representatives of the same old organizational approach and would prefer Salam Fayyad, who has already proven his ability to make the vision of a flourishing Palestinian society a reality. That might work well for us.

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In the late 1990s, author and political commentator Fouad Ajami published his book “The Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation’s Odyssey,” in which he laid out the failures in the worldviews of Arab leaders and their self-criticism as the reason for their lack of achievement.

Two decades later, as 2017 was drawing to a close, the Palestinians’ dream palace sustained three serious blows in quick succession. First, U.S. President Donald Trump declared that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This was followed by the Likud Central Committee’s decision to annex the settlements and the Jordan Valley. Finally, the Knesset passed a law that removes the teeth from any future peace deal involving Jerusalem (by requiring a special majority of 80 MKs to vote in favor of handing any part of the city over to any foreign government).

If the Palestinians were to look at them in a sober light, they would see that the U.N. resolutions that followed Trump’s announcement were meaningless. In light of the continuing historic drama that began with the landmark Balfour Declaration, the U.N. resolutions condemning Trump’s announcement carried no operative significance and merely served as a faint echo of the detached institution’s fading anti-Israelism.

The latest provocations from Hamas are not a lust for battle, but an expression of how desperate and lost – operatively, politically, and ideologically – the organization is. This beaten and battered group made an immense investment in missiles and attack tunnels, at a heavy cost to its people. These have become a pointless burden. Hamas is currently in a political situation in which the world is sick of Islamism, and the entities that aid and abet it (Qatar, Iran, and Turkey) are bogged down in their own domestic troubles.

The Palestinian Authority is at the end of an era. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is trying fruitlessly to use a diplomatic atmosphere that is hostile to Israel to wring concessions out of it, while simultaneously avoiding direct negotiations with Israel or recognizing it as a Jewish state. The PA is wasting time trying to paint Israel as an apartheid state through a South Africa-style boycott movement, while continuing to coordinate on security because it is afraid of Hamas.

The Israeli convoy is moving on while the PA is gritting its teeth over absurd demands (Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees), not realizing the effect the processes at work in the world are having on their delusional dreams. Indeed, Islamist terrorism, the Iranian threat, the breakdown of many countries in the region, the masses of Muslim refugees into sinking Europe, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East – these are the factors that have sidelined the Palestinian problem, which was never the cause of the regional unrest.

As these developments take place, Abbas is claiming that the U.S. is sponsoring an Israeli strategy to eradicate the Palestinians and their irrefutable right to kill off the peace process. A range of voices in Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hamas – responded to Trump’s declaration and Israel’s decision about Jerusalem and the settlements with the language of a declaration of war that demands that they revoke any recognition of Israel and the peace process and resume resistance (the armed struggle).

Most of the Palestinians in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip are waking up. The sparsely attended “days of rage” Hamas and the PA initiated over the issue of Jerusalem signal a disappointing finale because the city used to be an issue that would light up both the Palestinians and Arab nations.

The Gazans are sick of Hamas, and in Judea and Samaria they are tired of the corruption in the PA, and once again an interim government devoted to economic issues that would have Israel’s blessing is being discussed. Some reject the militant candidates for Abbas’ position (Majid Faraj and Mohammed Dahlan) as representatives of the same old organizational approach and would prefer Salam Fayyad, who has already proven his ability to make the vision of a flourishing Palestinian society a reality. That might work well for us.

How to Defund the U.N.

December 27, 2017

How to Defund the U.N., Gatestone InstituteJohn R. Bolton, December 27, 2017

(Back in June of 1950, when North Korea with Stalin’s help and encouragement invaded South Korea, The UN General Secretary telephoned President Truman to say that he regarded the North Korean invasion an assault on the UN. Fortunately, Russia was boycotting the UN to protest its refusal to seat China. Various UN members provided troops to support the UN Command. It was a very different UN back then, the likes of which we are unlikely ever to see again. — DM)

Turtle Bay has been impervious to reform largely because most U.N. budgets are financed through effectively mandatory contributions. Under this system, calculated by a “capacity to pay” formula, each U.N. member is assigned a fixed percentage of each agency’s budget to contribute. The highest assessment is 22%, paid by the U.S. This far exceeds other major economies, whose contribution levels are based on prevailing exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity. China’s assessment is just under 8%.

Why does the U.S. tolerate this? It is either consistently outvoted when setting the budgets that determine contributions or has joined the “consensus” to avoid the appearance of losing. Yet dodging embarrassing votes means acquiescing to increasingly high expenditures.

The U.S. should reject this international taxation regime and move instead to voluntary contributions. This means paying only for what the country wants — and expecting to get what it pays for. Agencies failing to deliver will see their budgets cut, modestly or substantially. Perhaps America will depart some organizations entirely. This is a performance incentive the current assessment-taxation system simply does not provide.

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As an assistant secretary of state in the George H.W. Bush administration, I worked vigorously to repeal a hateful United Nations General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. Foreign diplomats frequently told me the effort was unnecessary. My Soviet counterpart, for example, said Resolution 3379 was only a piece of paper gathering dust on a shelf. Why stir up old controversies years after its 1975 adoption?

We ignored the foreign objections and persisted because that abominable resolution cast a stain of illegitimacy and anti-Semitism on the U.N. It paid off. On Dec. 16, 1991, the General Assembly rescinded the offensive language.

Now, a quarter-century later, the U.N. has come close to repeating Resolution 3379’s original sin. Last week the U.N. showed its true colors with a 128-9 vote condemning President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

This seemingly lopsided outcome obscured a significant victory and major opportunity for the president. Thirty-five countries abstained, and 21 didn’t vote at all. Days earlier the Security Council had endorsed similar language, 14-1, defeated only by the U.S. veto. The margin narrowed significantly once Mr. Trump threatened to penalize countries that voted against the U.S. This demonstrated once again that America is heard much more clearly at the U.N. when it puts its money where its mouth is. (In related news, Guatemala announced Sunday it will move its embassy to Jerusalem, a good example for others.)

While imposing financial repercussions on individual governments is entirely legitimate, the White House should also reconsider how Washington funds the U.N. more broadly. Should the U.S. forthrightly withdraw from some U.N. bodies (as we have from UNESCO and as Israel announced its intention to do on Friday)? Should others be partially or totally defunded? What should the government do with surplus money if it does withhold funds?

Despite decades of U.N. “reform” efforts, little or nothing in its culture or effectiveness has changed. Instead, despite providing the body with a disproportionate share of its funding, the U.S. is subjected to autos-da-fé on a regular basis. The only consolation, at least to date, is that this global virtue-signaling has not yet included burning the U.S. ambassador at the stake.

Turtle Bay has been impervious to reform largely because most U.N. budgets are financed through effectively mandatory contributions. Under this system, calculated by a “capacity to pay” formula, each U.N. member is assigned a fixed percentage of each agency’s budget to contribute. The highest assessment is 22%, paid by the U.S. This far exceeds other major economies, whose contribution levels are based on prevailing exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity. China’s assessment is just under 8%.

Why does the U.S. tolerate this? It is either consistently outvoted when setting the budgets that determine contributions or has joined the “consensus” to avoid the appearance of losing. Yet dodging embarrassing votes means acquiescing to increasingly high expenditures.

The U.S. should reject this international taxation regime and move instead to voluntary contributions. This means paying only for what the country wants — and expecting to get what it pays for. Agencies failing to deliver will see their budgets cut, modestly or substantially. Perhaps America will depart some organizations entirely. This is a performance incentive the current assessment-taxation system simply does not provide.

Start with the U.N. Human Rights Council. Though notorious for its anti-Israel bias, the organization has never hesitated to abuse America. How many know that earlier this year the U.N. dispatched a special rapporteur to investigate poverty in the U.S.? American taxpayers effectively paid a progressive professor to lecture them about how evil their country is.

The U.N.’s five regional economic and social councils, which have no concrete accomplishments, don’t deserve American funding either. If nations believe these regional organizations are worthwhile — a distinctly dubious proposition — they are entirely free to fund them. Why America is assessed to support them is incomprehensible.

Next come vast swaths of U.N. bureaucracy. Most of these budgets could be slashed with little or no real-world impact. Start with the Office for Disarmament Affairs. The U.N. Development Program is another example. Significant savings could be realized by reducing other U.N. offices that are little more than self-licking ice cream cones, including many dealing with “Palestinian” questions. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) could be consolidated into the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Many U.N. specialized and technical agencies do important work, adhere to their mandates and abjure international politics. A few examples: the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. They shouldn’t be shuttered, but they also deserve closer scrutiny.

Some will argue incorrectly that unilaterally moving to voluntary contributions violates the U.N. Charter. In construing treaties, like contracts, parties are absolved from performance when others violate their commitments. Defenders of the assessed-contribution model would doubtless not enjoy estimating how often the charter has been violated since 1945.

If the U.S. moved first, Japan and some European Union countries might well follow America’s lead. Elites love the U.N., but they would have a tough time explaining to voters why they are not insisting their contributions be used effectively, as America has. Apart from risking the loss of a meaningless General Assembly vote — the Security Council vote and veto being written into the Charter itself — the U.S. has nothing substantial to lose.

Thus could Mr. Trump revolutionize the U.N. system. The swamp in Turtle Bay might be drained much more quickly than the one in Washington.

Pictured: John Bolton, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, addresses the UN Security Council on October 14, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.

This article first appeared in The Wall Street Journal and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

O! Jerusalem

December 26, 2017

O! Jerusalem, Israel National News, Rabbi Berel Wein, December 26, 2017

The city of Jerusalem itself is thriving as perhaps never before in its long and turbulent history. The population is at an all-time high and every neighborhood in the city is experiencing new construction and refurbishment. The light rail system has proven to be a success and the good old green Egged buses are still plying their routes more or less in an orderly fashion and on a scheduled timeline. 

The city has enjoyed an economic upturn and its government has improved many of the services, quietly and without boastful fanfare. The Arab citizens of Jerusalem – they are a little more than 30% of the population here – enjoy a standard of living and opportunity unmatched anywhere else in the Middle East.

Yet, this means nothing regarding the attitude of much of the world as far as Israel and Jerusalem is concerned

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The Jewish people and the world generally were witness this past week to yet another fulfillment of a biblical prophecy. The prophet said that a day will come when all of the nations – or at least a sizable portion of them – will attack Jerusalem and attempt to dislodge the Jewish people from their capital city and its holy environs. 128 nations voted for a UN General Assembly resolution denying the right of Israel and the Jewish people to claim Jerusalem as its capital. 

Among the nations that voted for this resolution were the usual culprits – dictators, slaveholders, warmongers and many others of this ilk. And naturally the hypocritical democracies of Europe never have been able to overcome their anti-Jewish bias, developed over centuries of persecution and discrimination against Jews also supported this nefarious resolution.

There were countries, led by the United States of America, who voted against the resolution and spoke up about its bias and impracticality. In the long view of history those nations who defended Jewish rights eventually were blessed for their wisdom and kindness. The United States of America is the world’s leading democracy and with all of its warts and faults remains a shining beacon of fairness and opportunity for individuals all over the world. 

Supporting Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is just simply choosing right over wrong and realistic history over illusory plans and policies. The United States committed its error in supporting an anti-Israel resolution last year under the Obama administration. And it made good on its policy of long-standing to protect Israel from these continued efforts by the United Nations to undermine its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

There is no use arguing this matter logically or even realistically. It matters little to the world that Jerusalem, for the first time in many centuries, is free for worship to all faiths and peoples. It also matters little that Israel has all of its government offices located in Jerusalem and that Israel as a sovereign nation has long chosen Jerusalem to be its capital. None of this matters because it is not so much that the world wants Jerusalem – after all it was a wasteland and backwater location for many centuries whether under Christian or Moslem rule – it is simply that the world does not want the Jews to have Jerusalem.

There is absolutely no logical explanation for this position but there it is anyway. The terrible virus of anti-Semitism affects all attitudes and positions regarding the state of Israel and certainly regarding Jerusalem. I certainly agree that there are religious difficulties for both the Christian and Moslem worlds regarding the status of Jerusalem as being a Jewish city and the capital of the state of Israel. However just as portions of the Christian clergy and Moslem nations have learned to live with the reality of the existence of the state of Israel – itself a religious difficulty to the theology of these faiths – so too I am confident that they will be able to adjust to the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state. Reality eventually affects beliefs and previously held opinions, even those that were once represented as being sacred and immutable.

The city of Jerusalem itself is thriving as perhaps never before in its long and turbulent history. The population is at an all-time high and every neighborhood in the city is experiencing new construction and refurbishment. The light rail system has proven to be a success and the good old green Egged buses are still plying their routes more or less in an orderly fashion and on a scheduled timeline.

The city has enjoyed an economic upturn and its government has improved many of the services, quietly and without boastful fanfare. The Arab citizens of Jerusalem – they are a little more than 30% of the population here – enjoy a standard of living and opportunity unmatched anywhere else in the Middle East.

Yet, this means nothing regarding the attitude of much of the world as far as Israel and Jerusalem is concerned.

The United Nations resolution, shameful as it is, is nevertheless nonbinding and non-enforceable. It is another one of the paper propaganda victories that the Palestinian Authority revels in, which brings them no closer to a state of their own, which by now most of us suspect they really don’t want anyway.

Jerusalem was supposed to be a bargaining chip to extract greater concessions from Israel on any final agreement. Somehow that chip may now be lost and no longer in play.

Haley’s Moment: “We Will Remember”

December 22, 2017

Haley’s Moment: “We Will Remember” Power Line,  Scott Johnson, December 22, 2017

(Please see Prof. Turley’s rather absurd offering about Ambassador’s Haley’s remarks here.  There are multiple comments, most of which reject Turley’s view. — DM)

The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.

America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that.

But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered.

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The Weekly Standard publishes Ambassador’s Haley’s remarks in the General Assembly yesterday in the editorials of its new issue here. The text is posted by our mission to the United Nations here. The Standard’s editorial introduction notes that the resolution before the U.N. chastised the United States for its decision on December 6 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and demanded the rescission of that policy. After Haley’s speech, U.N. delegates voted 128 to 9 for the resolution. The New York Times called it a “stinging rebuke to the United States” and a “collective act of defiance toward Washington.” The editors of the Standard disagree: “It was, rather, the U.N.’s shameful business-as-usual to which Haley delivered an overdue stinging rebuke.” Here are Haley’s remarks:

To its shame, the United Nations has long been a hostile place for the state of Israel. Both the current and the previous Secretary-Generals have objected to the UN’s disproportionate focus on Israel. It’s a wrong that undermines the credibility of this institution, and that in turn is harmful for the entire world.

I’ve often wondered why, in the face of such hostility, Israel has chosen to remain a member of this body. And then I remember that Israel has chosen to remain in this institution because it’s important to stand up for yourself. Israel must stand up for its own survival as a nation; but it also stands up for the ideals of freedom and human dignity that the United Nations is supposed to be about.

Standing here today, being forced to defend sovereignty and the integrity of my country – the United States of America – many of the same thoughts have come to mind. The United States is by far the single largest contributor to the United Nations and its agencies. We do this, in part, in order to advance our values and our interests. When that happens, our participation in the UN produces great good for the world. Together we feed, clothe, and educate desperate people. We nurture and sustain fragile peace in conflict areas throughout the world. And we hold outlaw regimes accountable. We do this because it represents who we are. It is our American way.

But we’ll be honest with you. When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our good will is recognized and respected. When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the “privilege” of being disrespected.

In the case of the United States, we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege. Unlike in some UN member countries, the United States government is answerable to its people. As such, we have an obligation to acknowledge when our political and financial capital is being poorly spent.

We have an obligation to demand more for our investment. And if our investment fails, we have an obligation to spend our resources in more productive ways. Those are the thoughts that come to mind when we consider the resolution before us today.

The arguments about the President’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem have already been made. They are by now well known. The decision was in accordance to U.S. law dating back to 1995, and it’s position has been repeatedly endorsed by the American people ever since. The decision does not prejudge any final status issues, including Jerusalem’s boundaries. The decision does not preclude a two-state solution, if the parties agree to that. The decision does nothing to harm peace efforts. Rather, the President’s decision reflects the will of the American people and our right as a nation to choose the location of our embassy. There is no need to describe it further.

Instead, there is a larger point to make. The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.

America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that.

But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered.

UN Security Council Bashes Trump’s Jerusalem Decision

December 11, 2017

UN Security Council Bashes Trump’s Jerusalem Decision, FrontPage MagazineJoseph Klein, December 11, 2017

(Please see also, Defiant Haley chides fuming Security Council members: ‘Change is hard. — DM)

Whichever provisions of Resolution 2334 are legally binding on Israel and all other UN member states, President Trump’s December 6th decision does not have any bearing on the sensitive issue of Israeli settlements or on Israel’s claims to sovereignty over “East Jerusalem.” Thus, invoking this infamous anti-Israeli resolution in the context of President Trump’s decision is a red herring.

“Over many years,” Ambassador Haley said in her remarks to the Security Council, the United Nations has been one of the world’s “foremost centers of hostility towards Israel.”  The Security Council became a kangaroo court on Friday, turning a perverted version of “international law” against the Trump administration for its just defense of the Jewish state of Israel and Israel’s right to choose its own capital as every other member state has the right to do.

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On December 6th, President Trump announced his decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to instruct the State Department to begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two days later, at a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council, the other 14 members of the Council, including U.S. allies such as France, the United Kingdom and Italy, ganged up on the United States to condemn President Trump’s decision. Allies and adversaries of the U.S., one after the other, claimed that President Trump’s decision had defied international consensus on how to achieve a viable two-state solution, violated international law and risked destabilizing the region as well as imperiling the peace process. Bolivia’s ambassador was the most strident, demanding that the Security Council take action against President Trump’s decision if it wanted to avoid becoming “an occupied territory.

To add insult to injury, the UN ambassadors from five member states of the European Union – the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Sweden and Germany – further criticized President Trump’s decision in a joint statement they read following the adjournment of the Security Council meeting. They claimed the decision “is not in line with Security Council resolutions and is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region.”

U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, stood her ground in her remarks to the Security Council. She chastised those “countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly.” All President Trump had done, she explained, was to formally acknowledge the reality that for nearly 70 years “the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel, despite many attempts by others to deny that reality. Jerusalem is the home of Israel’s parliament, president, prime minister, Supreme Court, and many of its ministries. It is simple common sense that foreign embassies be located there.”

President Trump’s change in American policy to reflect this reality does not mean that the United States has taken a position on the specific boundaries or borders within Jerusalem as a whole. “The specific dimensions of sovereignty over Jerusalem are still to be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians in negotiations,” Ambassador Haley said.

Notably, President Trump’s announcement specifically called for maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. There is not even the slightest hint that the U.S. would be moving its embassy to the Old City or to any part of “East Jerusalem.” However, the critics of President Trump’s decision refuse to allow for the possibility of a U.S. embassy located anywhere at all in the entire city of Jerusalem – even in what is now referred to as “West Jerusalem,” which is an undisputed section of Jerusalem.

“Israel, like all nations, has the right to determine its capital city,” Ambassador Haley said. “In virtually every country in the world, U.S. embassies are located in the host country’s capital city. Israel should be no different.”

The principal objections to President Trump’s decision are that it sets back the chances for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the two-state solution, it is apt to destabilize and trigger violence in the region and beyond, and it violates international law.

The first two objections can be given short shrift. For seventy years, there has been no peace because the Palestinians have consistently pursued an absolutist policy rejecting the idea of a Jewish state living side by side with an Arab state. The Palestinians and their Arab state neighbors rejected the partition recommended in UN General Assembly Resolution 181 in 1947. The Palestinians did not declare an independent state of their own when they had the chance. They embarked instead on a campaign of violence. Hamas, Palestinian President Abbas’s coalition partner, still calls for Israel’s destruction. Abbas, who has incited sectarian violence and rewards terrorists, spurned a peace offer from Israel in 2008 that would have resulted in Israel’s withdrawal from virtually all of the West Bank and the relinquishment of Israeli control of Jerusalem’s Old City in favor of placing it under international control. Abbas has refused to this day to agree to direct unconditional negotiations with Israel, a position which long preceded President Trump’s decision.

As for the violence that critics of President Trump’s decision seek to lay at his feet, violence has indeed erupted, not only in the Middle East but elsewhere including Europe. However, President Trump’s decision is being used as a pretext for such behavior that Palestinians and Islamists throughout the world have displayed time and again. We have seen excuses for violence ranging from cartoons and an obscure anti-Muslim video to the installation of metal detectors at the Temple Mount (despite the presence of metal detectors at mosques in other countries). Foreign policy and national security decisions cannot be held hostage to mob rule. Giving in to threats of a violent reaction will only encourage the increased use of such threats to thwart other controversial decisions.

Turning to the objection to President Trump’s decision based on “international law,” the critics have claimed that his declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem violate a whole host of UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Sovereignty over Jerusalem, they have argued, is a “final status” issue to be negotiated between the parties themselves. They have argued this position while also holding on to the characterization of “East Jerusalem” as part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” in the various UN resolutions they cite. In short, the Israel bashers have no problem exploiting UN resolutions to pre-determine the final status of “East Jerusalem,” which contains the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as belonging to the Palestinians.

Moreover, the UN resolutions that the critics of President Trump’s decision rely upon to support their objections on “legal” grounds do little to help their case. As a matter of international law, there is nothing in the United Nations Charter that grants the General Assembly any power that would render its resolutions, declarations, or recommendations legally binding or enforceable. In any case, the Palestinians and their Arab state neighbors, including Jordan, which illegally seized and annexed the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948, completely rejected the original UN two-state partition resolution, Resolution 181. Their attempt to invoke that resolution or subsequent General Assembly resolutions now to rationalize their position on international law grounds is specious at best.

President Trump’s critics also point for support of their position to UN Security Council resolutions stating that East Jerusalem is part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” declaring Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem to be illegal, concluding that Israel’s assertion of sovereignty over a unified Jerusalem is null and void, and calling upon member states to withdraw their embassies from the Holy City of Jerusalem.  These resolutions were not explicitly adopted in the exercise of the Security Council’s Chapter VII enforcement powers, which is significant in determining whether they are legally binding unless they are expressly framed as “decisions” of the Council or, at the very least, use such words as “demand” in the applicable provisions. Words and phrases such as “calls upon,” “urges,” “reaffirms,” “underlines,” and “stresses” are deemed insufficient by legal experts in the field to reflect an intention on the part of the Security Council to create a legally binding obligation on any of the member states of the UN.

Many of the ambassadors speaking at Friday’s Security Council meeting invoked Security Council Resolution 478 as a principal basis for declaring President Trump’s decision to be in violation of international law. However, Resolution 478 used the word “decides” only in the context of refusing to recognize Israel’s “Basic Law” declaring Israeli sovereignty over the “Holy City of Jerusalem” and “such other actions by Israel that, as a result of this law, seek to alter the character and status of Jerusalem.” Resolution 478 then “calls upon” (not demands) the member states “to accept this decision,” which means it is up to each member state to agree or not. Moreover, Resolution 478 only “calls upon” the member states “that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City.” Again, this does not constitute a legally binding obligation. Moreover, it would not appear to apply explicitly to the western sector of Jerusalem, outside of the Old City where the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are located.

President Trump’s decision in no way is inconsistent with Resolution 478. To the contrary, as discussed above, President Trump specifically called for maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem and left it to Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate the final status of the boundary lines within Jerusalem as a whole. President Trump’s announcement of the intent to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, particularly if relocated outside of the boundaries of the Old City as it most certainly will be, would not be enjoined by Resolution 478’s express provisions, which are not legally binding in any event. Moreover, it is way too premature to consider the legality of such a move since it is likely to take three years or more to occur.

The critics also have referred to Security Council Resolution 2334, passed at the end of last year after the Obama administration decided to abstain rather than exercise its veto power. Resolution 2334 principally addresses Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, which, as in previous resolutions, are said to include “East Jerusalem.” It states 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.” Although most of the resolution’s operative paragraphs use non-binding words and phrases such as “calls upon,” the resolution does once refer to the Security Council’s “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.” (Emphasis added)

Whichever provisions of Resolution 2334 are legally binding on Israel and all other UN member states, President Trump’s December 6th decision does not have any bearing on the sensitive issue of Israeli settlements or on Israel’s claims to sovereignty over “East Jerusalem.” Thus, invoking this infamous anti-Israeli resolution in the context of President Trump’s decision is a red herring.

“Over many years,” Ambassador Haley said in her remarks to the Security Council, the United Nations has been one of the world’s “foremost centers of hostility towards Israel.”  The Security Council became a kangaroo court on Friday, turning a perverted version of “international law” against the Trump administration for its just defense of the Jewish state of Israel and Israel’s right to choose its own capital as every other member state has the right to do.

Commendable defiance

December 8, 2017

Commendable defiance, Israel Hayom, David M. Weinberg, December 8, 2017

What do you do when they untruthfully blame Israeli “settlements,” expressly including home construction in Jewish Jerusalem, for the failure of their botched peace process, and then abstain as the U.N. Security Council savages Israel, and only Israel, for obstruction of peace diplomacy?

You pray for new leaders in the United States who will right the wrongs, defy the rotten and callous consensus, be willing to introduce a dose of realism and truth-telling to the Arab-Israeli dynamic, and be brave enough to say, at least, that Jews have profound rights in Jerusalem and that the U.S. recognizes the indisputable fact that Jerusalem functions as Israel’s capital, justifiably so. And that the American Embassy will move to Jerusalem, as should all embassies.

You pray that somebody with Trump’s gumption will come along, become president of the United States, and do what he has just done.

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The Palestinians have no one to blame except themselves for President Donald Trump’s declaration on Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. The same goes for European leaders, who were busy this week condemning Trump’s move.

The Palestinians and the Europeans brought this on themselves by running an ugly campaign of denialism and denigration against Israel. Their brazen persistence in delegitimizing the Jewish people’s historic roots and rights in Jerusalem led to this defiant and ultimately honorable result: a reassertion of reality.

Over the past decade, and certainly since he rejected then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2014 peace initiative, President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has been on an outrageous path, an assault on the core identity of Jews and Israelis and an offensive to deny the most fundamental, basic building blocks of Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.

At Abbas’ express urging, UNESCO has adopted insane and nonsensical resolutions declaring Jerusalem an exclusively Muslim heritage city and criminalizing Israel’s custodianship of the holy city. Most of Israel’s European allies went along with this affront, either voting for or abstaining on the resolutions.

So what do you do when the Big Lie is evident everywhere, and no one seems to care about the truth? What do you do when Abbas repugnantly engages in gross inversions of reality and says that Israel is “paving the way for bitter religious conflict” that he doesn’t want – when, in fact, it is he who is driving the conflict, not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Israel?

What you do is keep the faith, and re-assert basic truths, such as the fact that for 3,000 years Jerusalem has been the Jewish people’s ancient patrimony and that for 70 years Jerusalem has been the sovereign capital of the State of Israel.

What do you do when Abbas shamefully, regularly and falsely accuses Israel of committing “violations” against Islamic and Christian holy sites, including the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, when it is his Waqf Muslim religious trust that has turned Al-Aqsa into an armed fortress and turned every Jewish visit to Judaism’s holiest site into a skirmish?

What do you do when it his Waqf that wantonly has dug up and destroyed thousands of years of Jewish archaeological treasures on the Temple Mount, and the world has stood by without protest? What do you do when Abbas’ people have destroyed Joseph’s Tomb, sought to destroy Rachel’s Tomb, and have run Christians out of Bethlehem?

You change the way Israeli (and  hopefully now American) diplomats present Israel’s case by emphasizing Israel’s legal, historic and religious rights in this land, not just our security needs. You do not forfeit to the Palestinians the international discourse regarding human, national and civil rights, especially on Jerusalem.

You push back by declaring – against the advice of all the inveterate peace process experts and high-and-mighty European commissioners – that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, plain and simple.

What do you do when Abbas has the gall to call for “international protection for Palestinians in Jerusalem against assaults by the occupation army” and accuses Israel of “executing” teenage Palestinian terrorists, when it is Israelis who have to be afraid of Palestinian stonings, knifings and shootings in every corner of this country and who are (uncomfortably and heroically) restraining themselves from unleashing the full force of Israel’s military?

You demonstrate resilience. And you ask your good friends in the U.S., be they Republican or Democrat, evangelical or secular, to defend you and to affirm that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

What do you do when the U.N. secretary general and the pope swallow every bit of Abbas’ bile about exclusive Arab rights in Jerusalem, while ignoring his denial of Christian history in Jerusalem? What do you do when they denounce “hateful discourse on both sides,” when there is no moral equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian discourse and no factual equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian propensities to violence?

You do not go running scared. You make the determination not to be cowed by yet more threats of Palestinian rage. You resolve not to melt from adopting moral policies just because of Arab stonings, stabbings, bombings and other forms of bullying.

What do you do when the president and secretary of state of your main ally, Barack Obama and John Kerry of the blessedly expired previous American administration, doubt Israel’s sincerity in maintaining calm on the Temple Mount and cast aspersions on the defensive measures taken by the Israel Police and IDF in response to Palestinian terrorism, when in fact Israel has studiously (and I think too diligently) maintained the status quo on Temple Mount, and its security forces have acted with immense restraint in response to Palestinian atrocities?

What do you do when they untruthfully blame Israeli “settlements,” expressly including home construction in Jewish Jerusalem, for the failure of their botched peace process, and then abstain as the U.N. Security Council savages Israel, and only Israel, for obstruction of peace diplomacy?

You pray for new leaders in the United States who will right the wrongs, defy the rotten and callous consensus, be willing to introduce a dose of realism and truth-telling to the Arab-Israeli dynamic, and be brave enough to say, at least, that Jews have profound rights in Jerusalem and that the U.S. recognizes the indisputable fact that Jerusalem functions as Israel’s capital, justifiably so. And that the American Embassy will move to Jerusalem, as should all embassies.

You pray that somebody with Trump’s gumption will come along, become president of the United States, and do what he has just done.

David M. Weinberg (www.davidmweinberg.com) is vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies.

Special Counsel Mueller Probing Kushner’s Role in Blocking Obama’s Betrayal of Israel at UNSC

November 22, 2017

Special Counsel Mueller Probing Kushner’s Role in Blocking Obama’s Betrayal of Israel at UNSC, Jewish PressDavid Israel, November 22, 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and President Donald Trump (left) with Jared Kushner (center) at the start of their May 22 meeting in Jerusalem.

Robert Mueller’s investigation is now moving to Jared Kushner’s interactions with foreign leaders during the presidential transition (between the Nov. 8, 2016 election and the January 20, 2017 inauguration), with an emphasis on his attempt to prevent President Barak Obama’s parting shot at Israel at the United Nations Security Council in December, when the US abstained in a landmark resolution demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement in the “occupied territories,” the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Washington custom dictates that a president-elect is not expected to come to the nation’s capital until the inauguration other than for a few substantial policy or procedural discussions with the outgoing administration. Although this custom was violated by several incoming US president elects, it was rare for any of them to actually attempt to reverse the sitting president’s policies.

According to the WSJ, the Mueller team is now questioning witnesses about Kushner’s involvement in that controversial resolution, when Israeli officials asked the Trump team to help block the UNSC vote with a US veto, even though Trump was not yet in office.

The Obama administration held back its final and most stinging blow to its ally Israel until after the presidential vote so as not to cause Democratic Jewish voters to retaliate by abandoning presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, then signaled its approval for a vote condemning Israel as soon as the election results had been announced.

The UNSC then cast 14 votes with one US abstention for a resolution saying that Israeli settlements in the disputed territories liberated in 1967, including eastern Jerusalem, have “no legal validity” and demanding a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities,” saying this “is essential for salvaging the two-state solution.” The resolution reiterated that Israeli settlement was a “flagrant violation” of international law.

Among the Trump officials Israel contacted for help were Trump’s son-in-law Kushner and Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

According to the WSJ, Mueller is also looking into Kushner’s outreach to other foreign leaders during the presidential transition, and his role in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with representatives of the Russian government, presumably to “collect dirt” on Clinton.