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The UN is another lost battle for the Palestinians

December 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm

UN Ambassadors voting at the UN Security Council meeting in New York, United States on 18 December 2017 [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]

After the US used its veto at the UN Security Council to block the adoption of a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Palestinian Authority (PA) immediately announced it would turn to the UN General Assembly to seek a vote on the same resolution where the US would not be able to use its veto.

Riyad Al-Maliki, the PA foreign minister, said in a statement: “The member states of the [UN] General Assembly will be asked to vote on the same draft resolution that we presented to the [UN] Security Council, which the US has blocked with the veto. In the General Assembly, the US will not be able to use this privilege.”

Though this would appear to condemn the US decision and defend the status of the holy city, this is not the reality. Egypt – which proposed the draft resolution condemning Trump’s decision on behalf of the Palestinians, the Arab and the Islamic states – could have included the US as a country that violated the international consensus on Jerusalem. This way, the US would not have been able to veto the resolution – paragraph 3 of Article 27 under Chapter V of the UN Charter stipulates that “any member that is a party to a dispute must abstain from voting”.

Read: The PA shapes facts on the ground, for Israel’s benefit

Instead, the text of the Egyptian, internationally-backed, draft resolution said “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council”. This is a very good text, but it is useless as it does not name any country as party to the dispute over the Holy City.

Consensus on the UN General Assembly decision on the US-Jerusalem move is expected but it would not be useful because it is non-binding to the US, which makes this another lost battle by the PA and its allies.

The PA and its allies insist on going in for lost battles. Dr Abdul-Sattar Qasim, a political analyst and professor of political sciences at Al-Najah University in the occupied West Bank, said that the PA is not taking the side of their people: “They were chosen by the Israeli occupation and proposed for the US to instate them. So their existence is conditional to the support of the US and its allies,” he said.

During the UN Security Council meeting US Representative Nikki Haley noted that the US had given more than $5 billion to the Palestinians since 1994, claiming it was more than any other country. Haley was wrong because Israel is the recipient that receives the highest amount of US foreign aid. Egypt has also been a recipient of US foreign and military aid for decades. Because of this neither the PA nor Egypt are ready to gamble with losing this.

Read: Jerusalem is lost only in the eyes of the insolent

Haley considered the vote of the countries which supported the Egyptian draft resolution as an “insult” to the US and hinted that her country would take revenge for this. “What we witnessed here in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten,” she wrote on Twitter. This is also another reason Egypt and the PA are not going in for a battle that embarrasses the US as they cannot bear its hostility.

In another Tweet posted this morning Haley overtly warned the countries which supported Egypt’s “useless” resolution at the UN General Assembly: “When we make a decision, at the will of the American people [at the UN], about where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us,” she wrote. “On Thursday, there’ll be a vote criticising our choice. The US will be taking names,” she warned.

In a letter sent to the representatives of the UN member states, a copy of which sent to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Haley made it clearer: “The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those who voted against us. Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to contact my team with any questions or concerns.”

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.