Thursday, May 10, 2018

Israel and United Nations - Seeing Things the American Way

With all of the Washington-led developments in the Middle East, the topic of this posting is particularly pertinent.  On an annual basis, the U.S. Department of State is required to submit a report summarizing the voting record in the United Nations and how the votes coincide with the U.S. views on global geopolitics.  Under Public Law 108-447 dated December 8, 2004, we find the following:

"REPORT MODIFICATION.—Section 406(b)(4) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991 (Public Law 101–246; 22 U.S.C. 2414a(b)(4)) is amended by inserting after ‘‘United States’’ the following: ‘‘, including a separate listing of all plenary votes cast by member countries of the United Nations in the General Assembly on resolutions specifically related to Israel that are opposed by the United States’’

As such, the Voting Practices in the United Nations for 2017 contains the following:

1.) a listing and description of the Israel-related votes that the United States opposed.

2.) the voting coincidence percentages with the United States on the opposed resolutions in alphabetical order.

The section of the report covering UN votes on Israel-related resolutions opens as follows:

"These annual General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel are repetitive, disproportionate, and one-sided. Israel is repeatedly singled out for criticism, while the resolutions do not fully acknowledge that all parties to the conflict bear direct responsibility for ending it."

Out of 193 UN member states, only 16 nations voted at least once against an Israel-related resolution (i.e voted against a resolution that would have had negative repercussions for Israel).  Here is a list of the 16 nations and the number of times that a country voted against one of the 21 Israel-related resolutions that were brought to the floor of the United Nations:

As you can see, other than Germany, France and the United Nations, there aren't a lot of "heavy hitters" when it comes to voting with the United States and its best friend in the Middle East.

Here are screen captures showing the entire list and descriptions of Israel-related votes that took place during 2017:

As you can see, many of the resolutions involve Israel's occupation of Palestine, the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the sovereignty of the Palestinian people and this issue which is particularly pertinent given the recent announcement by the Trump Administration that it was going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and establish an embassy there:

"Jerusalem - A/RES/72/17 dated November 30, 2017

The General Assembly has adopted a resolution concerning Jerusalem every year since 1967. The United States believes that the final status of Jerusalem should be resolved by the parties to the conflict as part of a final, permanent status resolution that also includes the status of borders, refugees, and settlements."

Here is a listing of the nations voting against this resolution: United States of America, Canada, Micronesia (Federated States of), Israel, Marshall Islands, and Nauru.  Out of the total membership of the United Nations General Assembly, 151 voted in favour of the resolution, 6 voted against and 9 abstained.

Not only does the Department of State track which nations voted against resolutions involving the State of Israel, it uses a "voting coincidence" measure which compares how the United States and each member nation vote against Israel-related measures.  According to the report, the methodology for obtaining the “voting coincidence” is comparing how the United States and the listed country voted. Votes are placed into one of four categories; same, opposite, partial, and absent. “Same” is the total number of times the United States and the listed country voted together. “Opposite” is the total number of times the United States and the listed country voted counter to each other. As part of this year’s updated methodology, a new column was included. “Partial” is the number of times the United States and the listed country were partially aligned (one country, but not both, abstained on a resolution). “Absent” is the number of times the listed country did not vote. The “Voting Coincidence” with the United States is calculated by adding one point for every ‘same’ vote, zero points for every ‘opposite’ vote, and one-half point for every ‘partial’ vote.

With that background, let's look at the voting coincidence measures for a few key member nations:

Afghanistan - 5 percent

Australia - 57 percent

Canada - 98 percent

China - 5 percent

Cuba - 5 percent

France - 21 percent

Germany - 21 percent

India - 7 percent

Iran - 5 percent

Iraq - 5 percent

Japan - 17 percent

Korea (North) - 5 percent

Korea (South) - 17 percent

Libya - 5 percent

Russia - 12 percent

Saudi Arabia - 5 percent

United Kingdom - 24 percent

It is interesting to note that, other than Canada, America's traditional allies like France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom do not share the U.S. vision of Israel and how it manages its ongoing issues with Palestine.  It is also pertinent to note that, when votes come up on Israel-related issues, the  average absentee rate for these votes is 9 percent.  While the Trump Administration claims that it will link its global financial support to support for its United Nations geopolitical agenda, it is rather surprising to see that Saudi Arabia, the recent beneficiary of $100 billion worth of military arms, only votes with the United States on Israel-related resolutions five percent of the time, the same as Iran and North Korea, the world's pariah nations and the targets of Washington's wrath.

Other than Canada and a few select tiny nations, the United States vision of the Middle East and, in particular, Israel, is not widely shared globally, leaving the United States as one of the very few nations that has handed Israel a blank cheque to do what it wants in its corner of the Middle East.  From the United Nations voting records on Israel's treatment of Palestinians and its continued establishment of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, it's quite clear that Israel's agenda has met with widespread condemnation by the member states of the United Nations.

This posting begs this video of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a closer:  

When asked if he was concerned about what the world, especially the United States would say about Israel's aggression against the Palestinians, he states that:

"America is something that you can easily maneuver and move in the right direction."

America's role as Israel's protector in the United Nations proves that Bibi was right.

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