B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin penned the following Op-Ed, which appeared in Algemeiner on Tuesday, Dec. 23rd.
In it, Mariaschin examines the actions of Palestinians to subvert face-to-face negotiations with Israel, and instead make unilateral appeals to international bodies like the European Union and United Nations for political gain.
Mariaschin asserts that the involvement, and possible U.N. Security Council veto of the United States government could play a critical role in shaping Middle East politics in 2015 and beyond.
Read the Op-Ed in its entirety:
Once Again, Palestinians Looking to Circumvent
Negotiations With Israel Through U.N.
One would think that the killings of 132 children in Pakistan at the hands of Taliban terrorists would cause the international community to focus on how to deal with the untrammeled mayhem and chaos caused by jihadi organizations.
Instead, that old favorite of multilateral organizations, bashing and marginalizing Israel, is back with a fury, but with some new twists.
Over the past few months, a perfect storm of bias has come about: from the “recognition” of a Palestinian state by a growing number of European parliaments, to the convening of the signatories to the Geneva Convention to condemn Israel’s acting in self-defense during this summer’s Gaza conflict to the current attempt to impose a date and time certain for creation of a Palestinian state in the United Nations Security Council.
In some instances, and in some capitals, there are winks and nods to the need for negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. But these efforts are not serious, being lame attempts to be politically correct.
Indeed, they are cover for an attempt to impose “peace” on the parties. The hypocrisy at play here is not hidden.
Both the United Nations and the European Union are members of the Quartet, a group which also includes the United States and Russia. All four parties have endorsed face-to-face negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians as the only path to reaching an agreement that stands any chance of holding.
No one said this would be easy. The last attempt to accomplish such an outcome was this year’s initiative led by Secretary of State John Kerry, which at some point showed some promise, but ultimately faltered.
During these talks the Palestinian side once again demonstrated its customary intransigence on a range of issues, including the right of return, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and a long-term Israeli security presence along the Jordan River line.
Why should we be surprised? The Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas has a playbook whose objective is to win not by negotiating in good faith, but by simply running out the clock. Other pages from Abbas’ book include turning a blind eye to incitement against Israelis and frightening the international community into believing that only continued pressure on Israel without PA concessions will deliver the ultimate reward for the Palestinians.
And what is that reward? Some suggest, an independent Palestinian state. Others say, not necessarily a state of their own, but an internationally ostracized and weakened Israel against which to continue their march to a “one state (i.e. Palestinian) solution.”
So Abbas and his minions work European parliamentary bodies, the EU Commission and the entire U.N. system into a tizzy, threatening to go to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Human Rights Council to brand Israel a perpetrator of war crimes and a serial abuser of human rights.
Their work is beginning to bear new fruit. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the EU’s listing of Hamas as a terrorist organization should be dropped on “procedural grounds;” that is, Hamas was listed on the basis of only media reports about its murderous track record of violence and terror.
As they say, if this were not so serious, the ruling would be laughable. But it’s not.
The latest maneuver to force a resolution through the U.N. Security Council is not accidental. In January, two nations that have no formal diplomatic relations with Israel will join the council: Malaysia and Venezuela. They will take up non-permanent seats for two-year terms and the PA will be counting on their votes when the “recognition” issue is raised, forcing, perhaps, an American veto.
The United States Congress may well be the last hold-out to recognize the danger of any plan that uses the United Nations to marginalize Israel in the peace process. The spending bill Congress just passed actually cancels funding to the PA if it pushes for statehood absent negotiations with Israel.
The Palestinians agreed during the Oslo process to negotiate. What makes it right to negate that obligation now?
It is clear that they wish to circumvent any process that is not “my way or the highway.”
So forget the Pakistani children, the girls abducted by Boko Haram, the Syrian barrel bombs and the attacks on Christians by ISIL and others.
One would hope that key players in Europe, those in the U.N. system and the international diplomats dealing with this situation would understand that imposing a “solution” by excluding Israelis and a real negotiating process will lead absolutely nowhere.
It’s inexplicable that all of the other issues roiling the Middle East and the rest of the world must take a back seat to this obsession with Israel. History will have to judge those who looked the other way at the wholesale killing and human rights abuses being carried out globally, real time.
If these folks really care about an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they’d spend their time pressing the Palestinians to get serious, go to the table and work a deal. Anything short of that is precious time wasted.
Geneva, Security Council Maneuvers Signal Escalation in Campaign Against Israel – And Disconnect from Middle East Reality
This week mainstream Palestinian leaders’ explicit effort to “internationalize” their conflict with Israel—that is, to use global bodies to force Israeli submission to Palestinian demands without the need for bilateral negotiation and compromise—symbolically entered a new phase.
And, for now at least, symbolically is the operative word. By succeeding in prodding the Swiss custodians of the Fourth Geneva Convention to hold a meeting of its state parties scrutinizing Israel, and by having a resolution seeking an ultimatum for unconditional Israeli acquiescence formally submitted to the Security Council, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not hastened the actual goals of Palestinians, let alone Middle East peace.
Israel will continue to prioritize the safeguarding of its security over other considerations. Moreover, while the PA may seek to score popularity points domestically for a confrontational posture toward Israel, the considerable futility of its global machinations will again spur disillusionment among Palestinians. As to the United Nations and other international institutions, exploitation as transparent political tools can only further undercut the standing of these bodies, above all among the Israelis who must be fully invested in any resolution of the conflict.
The Palestinians’ international efforts, then, may be largely symbolic for now, but they cannot be described as benign. The fact that, in the history of the Geneva Conventions, the state parties to these essential humanitarian protocols have been convened exclusively to scrutinize Israel speaks to the shoddiness of the global human rights architecture. The result is a cynical defaming of one small, beleaguered democracy—Israel; the neglect, in an era of North Korean gulags and ISIS mass beheadings, of the most systematic human rights violations worldwide; and the diverting of the Palestinians from a path of constructiveness to a path of, at best, more-of-the-same.
On Dec. 17, 126 signatory countries of the Geneva Conventions adopted, at the conclusion of a two-hour meeting, a ten-point declaration affirming belligerents’ humanitarian obligations, while also specifically reiterating the perceived “illegality” of Israelis’ presence in Palestinian-claimed territory, a position clearly contested by Israel.
Switzerland seems to have made an effort to keep yesterday’s “conference,” regularly demanded by Palestinian activists, low-profile, noting that its conclusions were not binding on states not present and asserting that a “tribunal” of any one particular state had not been intended. But at a time when, escalated Palestinian terrorism and incitement notwithstanding, the parliaments of the European Union and several of its member states are voicing support for expedited recognition of “Palestine,” the attempt to further smear and isolate Israel through the Geneva proceedings was apparent. Accordingly, a small handful of democratic allies, including Canada and the United States, declined to attend.
Now, focus shifts again to New York. After months of PA threats to submit a text in defiance of American and Israeli opposition, Jordan—the current Arab member of the United Nation’s most important body, the Security Council—formally tabled a council resolution insisting that a “solution” providing for the establishment of a Palestinian state be reached within a year and that Israel complete a withdrawal from relevant territories acquired in 1967 (with “limited, equivalent land swaps” accounting for any discrepancy).
The resolution draft, which does not include recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, also invokes U.N. resolution 194 and the 2002 Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Initiative. It fails to ensure that Israel’s Jewish identity and peace are protected by directing any influx of Palestinian refugees, or their descendents, to a future Palestinian state rather than to Israel itself.
If the Security Council—within which the U.S. holds veto power—declines to adopt the Palestinian-backed resolution, the PA has warned that it will dramatically intensify its unilateral diplomatic offensive against Israel, seeking a new foothold as a “state” member of major international institutions, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), which could then be used to initiate judicial proceedings against Israelis.
In one more symbolic step, the Palestinians were admitted as an “observer state” of the ICC’s Assembly of State Parties this month. The court could be used to try to constrain and penalize efforts to defend Israelis against the terrorism of groups like Hamas, with which the PA has been engaged in a tenuous governing partnership (but which retains effective dominance over the Gaza Strip). Israel could respond with charges of its own—and the Palestinian-Israeli stalemate, far from thawing, could grow yet more intractable.
Although a vote on the Palestinian motion at the Security Council may be held before then—and Western European countries have reportedly been weighing an alternative council resolution of their own—it might suit the PA to wait until January to push for a decision to be taken. If, as appears to be the case, there is not a minimum of nine council members in support of the Palestinian motion, the United States would not be forced to consider employing a lone veto for the resolution to fail. Beginning in January, a changed composition of the Security Council is expected to give the Palestinians the critical mass of support needed to push through a resolution, as long as none of the five permanent, veto-wielding members vote “no.”
Despite its record of siding with Israel against the importation of the conflict to the United Nations, Washington, meanwhile, has remained ambiguous about how it will react to the newest resolution before the council. Undoubtedly, the U.S. administration is engaged in private bargaining with Palestinians, Israelis and others on how to revive some semblance of a peace process and avoid a bruising, high-stakes battle of wills at the Security Council.
It is not clear what those deliberations will yield. But American commitment to disallowing unilateral Palestinian recourse to the United Nations will be vital to ensuring that direct talks—long urged by the world body itself—remain recognized as the only route to addressing the fundamental needs of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
David J. Michaels is Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs at B'nai B'rith International, where he began working in 2004 as Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President. A Wexner Fellow/Davidson Scholar, and past winner of the Young Professional Award of the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America, he holds degrees from Yale and Yeshiva University.To view some of his additional content, Click Here.
Jewish refugees from the Middle East as a group that has been largely overlooked by the international community. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees were forced from their homes at the turn of the 20th century as a result of the Middle East conflict.
Earlier this year, the Israeli Knesset passed a bill marking Nov. 30th as a day of commemoration for the expulsion of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands. This date is essential for the purpose of remember the vast, centuries-old Jewish legacy in the Arab and Muslim world, which was largely erased in the 20th century.
B'nai B'rith and its partners have also supported legislation in the U.S. Congress that promotes the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran.
In the United Nations, we've seen more than 100 resolutions dedicated to the situation of Palestinian refugees, but not one, single resolution has ever been passed on the issue of Jewish refugees who emerged from the same conflict.
It's high time for some historical balance, and justice for Jewish refugees who had their homes and heritage mercilessly taken from them. Without setting the record straight, justice can never be achieved.
Eric Fusfield, Esq. has been the B’nai B’rith International director of legislative affairs since 2003 and the deputy director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy since 2007. He has worked in Jewish advocacy since 1998. To view some of his additional content, Click Here.
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