UN Security Council Resolution 2334
Re-Posted from the Canada Free Press By Joseph A. Klein, CFP United Nations Columnist —— Bio and Archives—December 21, 2020
On December 23, 2016, the Obama administration broke with the longstanding practice of both Democratic and Republican administrations to protect Israel from one-sided United Nations resolutions. The Obama administration abstained, rather than veto, UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which declared that the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” The resolution demanded that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” When it came to the resolution’s call to prevent “acts of terror” and “to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric,” the resolution referred elliptically to “both parties.”
Resolution 2334 remains in effect to this day. However, despite what the resolution’s supporters continuously assert, it is not legally binding under the UN Charter because it was not passed under the provisions of Chapter VII of the Charter. The resolution is not self-enforcing and would require a further resolution to impose sanctions or other punitive measures, which the Trump administration would surely have vetoed.
The question now is whether President-elect Joe Biden will return to the Obama-Biden administration’s support of the anti-Israel resolution and its distancing from our closest ally in the Middle East. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Biden was involved in getting Ukraine, then a member of the Security Council, to vote for Resolution 2334 in 2016. We do not know if then-Vice President Biden was simply carrying out the directions of his boss Barack Obama or acting also on his own beliefs. In any case, we can expect the Biden administration to be under intense pressure from Israel-haters in the so-called “international community” and the Democrat progressive base in the United States to go along with sanctions against Israel for violating Resolution 2334’s edict against Israeli settlements.
Biden will also be under pressure from America’s European allies to reverse the Trump administration’s punitive actions against the highly politicized International Criminal Court (ICC), which declared last year that it would launch “a full investigation” into alleged war crimes committed in Palestinian territories by Israeli forces. The ICC is also undertaking a war crimes probe into U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan, which led to actions taken by the Trump administration against ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and another senior court official.
“The International Criminal Court is facing persistent external challenges and the European Union stands firm against all attempts to undermine the international system of criminal justice by hindering the work of its core institutions,” Peter Stano, spokesman for EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell, told reporters. “We are committed to strengthen our support to the ICC because this is key factor in fighting against impunity. We are standing by the ICC and we are not happy to see steps which are going against the activities of the ICC.”
Biden’s reverence for multilateral institutions and his eagerness to please our European allies make it likely that he will buckle.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Security Council on December 21st regarding recent events impacting the implementation of Resolution 2334. His briefing focused on Israeli actions that he said violated Resolution 2334 and international law, coupled with a plea for more “humanitarian” aid for the Palestinians.
“I remain deeply troubled by continued Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” Mladenov said. “Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, constitute a flagrant violation of United Nations resolutions and international law. Settlements entrench Israel’s occupation and undermine the prospect of achieving a two-State solution. The advancement of all settlement activity must cease immediately.”
Madenov deplored violence against Palestinian “civilians,” allegedly perpetrated by Israeli military forces and settlers. Mladenov devoted just one paragraph in his prepared remarks calling out Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad by name for their “indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli civilian population centers.” While naming these terrorist groups specifically was more than Resolution 2334 itself did, Mladenov later in his remarks urged Israel to lift the closures completely that have restricted the movement of goods and people to and from Gaza for security reasons. “It remains vital to also ease dual-use restrictions for imports into the Gaza Strip,” Mladenov said. It is vital only for Hamas, which would exploit such dual-use imports to further build up its military weaponry and infrastructure.
Mladenov’s brief discussion of the “wider peace process” had a glaring omission. He left out the historic peace agreements reached between Israel and four Arab countries – United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, however, made these agreements the center piece of her remarks to the Security Council. “In less than four months, four states have opened diplomatic relations with Israel, paving the way for still more engagement that will help bring about the prosperity envisioned under President Trump’s peace plan,” Ambassador Craft said. “For decades we…had seen little progress towards resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as parties continued to reflexively resort to same old, tired rhetoric and hardened positions. Today, we instead see practical, real examples that genuine economic and cultural ties are being formed. As a result, all of us here should think long and hard about what else we may have missed or misinterpreted over the years.”
Joe Biden’s choice to serve as his Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, has said that the Biden administration would continue to support Israel and stand up for the Jewish State at the United Nations. Biden has said that he would not use the continued provision of U.S. military aid as leverage to pressure Israel on policy issues. When Blinken was asked about whether it was possible that the Biden administration would use such leverage specifically in relation to potential Israeli annexation of portions of the West Bank, he said no. Although Biden opposes annexation, Blinken claimed that Biden “would not tie our military assistance to Israel to any political decisions that it makes.”
That’s certainly good news for Israeli officials to hear. Indeed, Israelis are welcoming his selection as the next Secretary of State. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Sooner or later, Biden’s impulse to go along to get along, including his intention to rejoin the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, will clash with his professed support for Israel. And the latter will likely give way if another resolution comes up for a vote in the UN Security Council to enforce Resolution 2334’s prohibition of Israeli settlements, including economic sanctions. Moreover, there is nothing to indicate in the long foreign diplomacy record of Biden’s choice to serve as his administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, that she will stand up for Israel at the UN in the mold of Ambassadors Kelly Craft, Nikki Haley and Jeane Kirkpatrick.