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UAE, Bahrain bash Israel at UN, despite normalization deals

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The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan bashed Israel at the United Nations this week, in spite of their burgeoning normalization agreements with Israel. 

They were among the many countries that signed onto seven draft anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian resolutions that the UN General Assembly’s Fourth Committee approved this week. No other country has that many resolutions levelled against it on an annual basis.

The texts are part of what has been an annual slew of almost 20 anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian approved by the UNGA at the end of each year. 

Israel’s diplomatic relations with nations is often divorced from this process, so that countries otherwise considered allies of Israel, still vote against it at the UN. This includes Egypt and Jordan, who have peace deals with Israel, but who always oppose it at the UN, including drafting and submitting texts against it.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan warned the UN that these cyclical resolutions harmed the cause of peace and pointed to the normalization deals as an example of what is possible outside the arena of the UN.

“In the past couple of months, Israel has made peace with three Muslim countries. One of the reasons that we were able to achieve this peace was because the UN, with its distorted view of reality, was not involved,” Erdan said. 

“Rather than play a constructive role in leading the Palestinians on the path to negotiations and peace, these resolutions further encourage Palestinian intransigence,” he added.

Erdan did not mention that the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan had continue to pursue Israel at the UN.

A diplomatic source, however, expressed disappointment that the countries with which Israel newly established ties did not change their vote against Israel at the UN, but was not surprised, pointing out that it was unlikely for Arab countries to vote with Israel when friendly European countries don’t.

A United States representative charged that the resolutions were part of institutional bias against Israel and asked the UN member States to reject them.

The UN is once again “taking up a disproportionate number of resolutions that are unfairly critical of Israel, demonstrating a clear and persistent institutional bias directed at one member state. These anti Israel resolutions recycle the tired habitual rhetoric that only lock both sides into the same intractable conflict,” she said when the votes were cast on Wednesday at the committee,

“They presuppose the outcome the outcome of final status issue that can only be resolved thorough negotiations between the parties.  They also damage UN credibility casting into doubt the impartiality of the UN,’ she said.

The US “will once again vote against these one sided resolutions and encourages others to do so. The cause of peace will be served when the bias against the UN ends,” she said.

The United States was the only country to consistently stand with Israel, voting against all seven of the resolutions.  

A slightly larger circle of countries abstained and or opposed all seven of the resolutions.

This included: Cameroon, Canada, Kiribati, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Serbia either voted against them or abstained. 

It’s the first time that Malawi and Serbia have been included in that narrow circle. Last year Malawi was often absent and Serbia supported the resolutions. 

But both countries have made moves in the last year to be closer to Israel, including weighing relocating their embassies to Jerusalem.

Australia abstained on five of the resolutions, voted against one of the texts and supported one.

The European Union has rarely been able to maintain a unified voting record on Israel at the UN, with some of its countries standing with Israel either by opposing some of the resolutions or abstaining. 

Hungary this year, changed its position and rejected three resolutions, including one that called for a boycott of settlement products. The Czech Republic also opposed one of the resolutions and abstained on another.

With the exception of one resolution where the entire bloc of 27 Eu countries abstained most of them supported the texts, including one resolution that condemned Israel’s continued presence on the Golan Heights despite Syria’s continued civil war.

The Palestinians have an automatic majority of support at the UN General Assembly, and Israel measures success there in small increments. Even Israel’s allies prefer to abstain. 

Such an abstention, differed from being absent all together, is meant to show solidarity without consensus, but at times it backfires because it allows for the passage of texts that lack a majority.

One of the resolutions approved this week did so with only 72 out of 193 possible votes, down from 81 last year. The number of abstentions, 76, was larger than the number of approvals.

The resolution, called “work of the special committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories,” has rarely had such low support.

The same was true for the resolution on “Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories,” which was passed by 142 votes, down from 157 last year.

The resolution on “Israel practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people” went from 157 votes last year to 138 this year.

Many of the resolutions are repetitive, often condemning the same Israeli action multiple times. 

Two of the resolutions affirmed the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, an organization that provides vital humanitarian services to 5.6 million refugees in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. While it.s spoke of the need of the Palestinians in all those countries, that resolution expressed grave concern only with regard to their situation under Israeli “occupation.” 

The United States and Israel which opposed both resolutions, holds that UNRWA is helping to perpetuate the conflict by conferring refugees status on the descents of those who fled their homes as the result of the 1948 and 1967 wars and by accepting the Palestinian right of return to sovereign Israel.

“One of the biggest reasons for the UN’s failure in ending the conflict is its continued support of UNRWA. UNRWA is an ineffectual organization that operates in stark contrast to the UN’s purported principles and perpetuates the conflict. Simply put, UNRWA’s very existence makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unsolvable, and I don’t intend to allow business as usual anymore,” Erdan said.

The Palestinian representative thanked the countries that supported the resolutions, including those on behalf of UNRWA, particularly Cuba, Indonesia and South Africa. 

These resolutions are important contributions by the UNGA to address the issues and challenges Palestinians face, more than 72 years “since the Nakba of  1948 and as a result of more than 53 years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land and the oppression of the Palestinian people ,” she said.

She rejected all charges of bias and called for the implementation of the resolutions so that Israel could be held accountable for its actions, noting that failure to do so called the viability of the UN into question.

“Implementation is paramount for the credibility of this organization,” she said.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report. 



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