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Friday, June 03, 2011

Netanyahu arrogance, Congressional Israel-first bias all but guarantee overwhelming UN approval for Palestinians statehood

Netanyahu's 'no' speech could spur a resounding 'yes'

A recent assessment in New York, based on data provided by Palestinians and other Arabs, predicted a majority - 135 of 192 members - voting in favor of Palestinian statehood. After Netanyahu's speech, the majority could climb to more than 160.
(Haaretz) -- by Shlomo Shamir --

NEW YORK - If the Palestinian initiative to declare independence in the UN General Assembly in September needed a shot in the arm, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided it. The list of no's Benjamin Netanyahu proudly and emphatically enumerated on Capitol Hill reconfirmed to the United Nations and the entire international community the motive for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state: the ongoing freeze in the peace process and the lack of dialogue between the parties. The speech, as it was understood in New York, left no likelihood that talks would be renewed in the foreseeable future, and it may have brought the peace process to an end.

The relationship between UN Headquarters in New York and the Republican majority in Washington are at best problematic and at worst openly hostile, as was seen when former U.S. president George W. Bush held office. People close to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and diplomats and pundits in New York, were not surprised at all by the cheers Netanyahu received from Congress.

"It would be no exaggeration to say that every standing ovation Netanyahu received in Congress was like a stab at many a sensitive nerve at United Nations Headquarters," a veteran commentator said.

The secretary general, who usually releases statements and responses quickly, said nothing at all about Netanyahu's speech. His silence stands in stark contrast to his enthusiastic and hasty response following President Barack Obama's speech, which preceded Netanyahu's.

Even if Obama wants to prove to Israel's supporters in Washington that he stands behind his own position - that a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in September would be a mistake - Obama's ability to influence voting patterns in the UN General Assembly is limited. There have been cases when American efforts to influence a vote produced the opposite of the desired result. The most recent example is the vote on a Security Council resolution a few weeks ago against the settlements, considered a humiliation to the U.S. administration. Fourteen members of the Security Council ignored American urging and voted to condemn the settlements, pushing the United States and its veto into embarrassing isolation...MORE...LINK
Related: If Zionist-occupied Washington vetoes UN approval of Palestinian statehood in Security Council, the veto can be overcome by going to General Assembly
How Palestinians will use the GA to advance statehood

(Jerusalem Post) -- by DAVID HOROVITZ --

Early in the Korean War, frustrated that the Soviet Union’s repeated use of its UN Security Council veto was thwarting council action to protect South Korea, the United States initiated what became known as the UN General Assembly’s “Uniting for Peace” resolution.

Adopted in November 1950, UNGA Resolution 377 provides that, should the five permanent members of the Security Council find themselves at odds, rendering the council incapable of exercising its “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” the General Assembly can step into the breach. If the Security Council’s permanent members cannot reach unanimity, it elaborates, and “there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression,” the General Assembly can fill the vacuum by issuing its own “appropriate recommendations” for “collective measures” to be taken by individual states – right up to and including “the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

The “Uniting for Peace” Resolution is no dead letter. It was employed, most notably, in 1981, to outflank the Security Council and recommend both sanctions against South Africa for preventing Namibian independence, and assistance, including military assistance, for those seeking Namibian independence.

It should be stressed: The GA’s authority under the resolution is not binding, but it can certainly press supportive countries to take action, and in 1981 it did just that. It called upon member states “to render increased and sustained support and material, financial, military and other assistance to the South West Africa People’s Organization to enable it to intensify its struggle for the liberation of Namibia.” And it urged member states to immediately cease “all dealings with South Africa in order totally to isolate it politically, economically, militarily and culturally.”

The passage of that resolution, says Richard Schifter, a former US assistant secretary of state for human rights who spent years representing the US in various UN forums, “was a significant step in the process of imposing sanctions on apartheid South Africa and delegitimizing the country.”

Which is where, as you’ve doubtless figured out by now, Israel and the Palestinians come in.

AS ISRAEL’S most recent ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, explained to me this week, the existence of UNGA Resolution 377, and the precedents for its use, mean that “those who believe that the UN General Assembly’s deliberations are of a solely declarative importance are mistaken.”

The GA, under “Uniting for Peace,” has teeth.

Furthermore, Shalev acknowledged, Israel only “just found out about this” – thanks, she said, to research done by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi’s The Israel Project.

But the Palestinians have plainly been reading the UN’s small print rather better for rather longer. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat even referred to the possible use of the “Uniting for Peace” resolution in comments to the Ma’an news agency late last year.

In Shalev’s estimation, and in that of several other experts with whom I spoke this week, including veteran American diplomat Schifter, the Palestinian leadership is moving serenely toward invoking precisely this resolution in September.

The Palestinian leadership, that is, anticipating that the US will veto its unilateral bid for statehood at the Security Council, will take the matter to the General Assembly. There it will push for the necessary two-thirds GA support for recognizing “Palestine,” presumably along the pre-1967 lines and with a “right of return” for refugees, under a “Uniting for Peace” resolution to ensure global action.

And in the unanimous assessment of those with whom I spoke, the consequences for Israel should this approach succeed – international pressure to accept the GA resolution, backed by potential sanctions and boycott action, and who knows what else – could be profoundly damaging...MORE...LINK

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