Israeli Ambassador to the Gilad Erden: 'We have all witnessed that the UN holds not even one ounce of legitimacy. ... The UN is committed to ensuring further atrocity. According to the family of nations, Israel has no right to defend itself. ... Why are you not holding Hamas accountable? ... This is a dark day for the UN and mankind. Israel will defend itself and will do what must be done to eradicate Hamas’ capabilities and bring the hostages home.'
/ November 3, 2023
By John J. Metzler
War clouds are swirling in the Middle East as the region steps closer to the precipice. The Second Stage of Israel’s military offensive against Hamas has now begun with all out fighting in the Gaza strip between the terrorists and the State of Israel. But beyond tiny Gaza it appears that regional destabilization now seems a certainty.
Amidst the chaos, the Islamic Republic of Iran plays puppet master to terrorist proxies such as Hamas and even more so Hizbullah based in Lebanon on Israel’s northern frontier. And what of a gaggle of Iranian militia forces stoking chaos in Iraq and Yemen? Conflict can easily spread from Gaza to the wider region.
Naturally the political default setting for Mideast crises and conflicts has traditionally been the United Nations, where the powerful Security Council would weigh in on the crisis through peacemaking efforts to contain the chaos. This no longer seems the case.
There’s a dangerous diplomatic dynamic building in the UN Security Council where more than a decade of political deadlock among the powers is hampering current efforts to help civilians caught in the crossfire from the Gaza war.
The U.S. moved to pass a draft resolution; American Amb. Linda Thomas Greenfield stated passionately before the vote, “Our resolution unequivocally condemns the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups. It affirms the right of Member States to defend themselves against the threats to peace and security posed by acts of terrorism. It urges all parties to fully respect and comply with obligations under international law.”
The U.S.-backed draft resolution which equally offered strong humanitarian aid for Gaza’s beleaguered civilians, was unceremoniously shot down by a rare Double Veto by Russia and China. Nonetheless ten countries of the fifteen-member Council supported Washington, with three against including veto-holding Russia and China and the United Arab Emirates. Brazil abstained.
Later the USA and UK reciprocated by blocking a Russian draft resolution which was floated at the last minute, offering humanitarian aid but without condemning Hamas terrorism. Moscow’s delegate later lamented that countries did “not have the strategic wisdom to support the Russian text.” (sic) While the Russian draft was backed by a mere four states, it was stopped cold by the U.S. and UK, both veto wielding members. Yet importantly 9 countries abstained including France, Japan, and Switzerland among others.
Three draft resolutions separately sponsored by Brazil, the United States and Russia failed to pass.
Since the Syrian conflict in 2012, the fifteen member UN Security Council has been largely paralyzed by a revival of Cold War era type bloc politics and standoffs. The Ukraine war has only worsened the dilemma and the Gaza crisis has flared the fires of long smoldering emotions.
The political logjam broke when a draft resolution came before the full 193-member General Assembly which called for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas. The text appealed for a “humanitarian pause” with food and water supplies into besieged Gaza, still shamefully failed to mention Hamas terrorism or over 200 Israeli hostages held by Hamas.
Canada pressed for an amendment which “Unequivocally rejects and condemns the terrorist attacks by Hamas that took place in Israel starting on 7 October 2023 and the taking of hostages, demands the safety, well-being and humane treatment of the hostages.” Sadly, the move fell flat.
Besides largely Israelis, the hostages are from twenty-five other countries as well.
The non-legally binding resolution easily passed in a political supercharged environment followed by almost giddy and venal applause.
Related: Crushing of Hamas seen forcing Iran’s response
, October 31
The voting saw 120 states support the resolution including the Arab states, China and Russia, most of the developing world, aka Global South such as Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Thailand. Only 14 countries were opposed including Israel, the United States, Austria and Hungary. And 45 countries abstained including Italy, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
The Arab world’s disingenuous “brotherhood” with the Palestinian people goes as far as political rhetoric but abruptly ends there; Which Arab state save for the Kingdom of Jordan and Lebanon has does much to resettle or seriously assist Palestinian refugees, least of all from Gaza?
Israel’s UN Amb. Gilad Erden stated bitterly, “Today is a day that will go down as infamy. We have all witnessed that the UN no longer holds even one ounce of legitimacy or relevance,” he said, telling the Assembly: “Shame on you.”
The world as we know it is dangerously unravelling while we watch.
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014).
Free Press International
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