Unlike Iraq, Iran, Libya, N. Korea, Israel has Impunity from Defying UNSC (Gaza Ceasefire)

By Juan Cole

The United Nations Security Council is theoretically a sort of sovereign in international law. If it designates a regime like that of Gaddafi in Libya as a threat to international peace, it can deputize the nations of the world to remove it. One major exception to UNSC authority is Israel, which routinely thumbs its nose at the world body while suffering no sanctions or other punishment.

Defying the UNSC can be extremely dangerous and costly. It demanded that Iraq dismantle its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and destroy any stockpiles of such unconventional weapons, in a series of resolutions after the Gulf War. The Bush administration alleged that Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein had declined completely to destroy those stockpiles and so was in violation of international law, and therefore claimed a sort of indirect sanction from the UNSC to invade and occupy Iraq in order to finish the job. (Unfortunately for Bush, the Baath regime in Iraq had in fact destroyed the stockpiles; this had not stopped Bush propagandists from continuing to this day to cite Saddam Hussein’s alleged defiance of the UNSC as a justification for the US war on Iraq.) Saddam Hussein was hanged in December 2006.

The UNSC demanded a decade or so ago that Iran mothball its civilian, peaceful nuclear enrichment program, aimed at gaining the capacity to fuel nuclear reactors to produce electricity. Iran refused, citing the pledge in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that guarantees all countries the right to close the fuel cycle. (Note that Israel went for broke to develop a nuclear warhead, of which it has several hundred, and never suffered any sanctions at all.)

As a result of the UNSC resolutions against Iran, the Obama administration was emboldened to impose a financial boycott on Iran, having it kicked off all the major banking exchanges and making it difficult or impossible for Iran to get paid for its petroleum. Then the US went around strong-arming countries like South Korea in a bid to force them to stop importing Iranian petroleum. A simple US congressional resolution would probably not have given the US the legitimacy to pursue this financial blockade against Iran, but the UNSC resolutions were much more persuasive, combined with US threats to sanction companies that traded with Iran.

Iran’s oil export earnings fell to $61.92 billion in 2013, “down 46% from $114.75 billion in 2011.” That was an over $50 bn annual fine for defying the UNSC, even when it wasn’t clear that international law justified the UNSC stance.

UNSC resolutions against the North Korean nuclear weapons program (a kind of military program Iran does not even have) imposed an arms embargo and even permitted other countries to board North Korean vessels at will on the high seas if they suspected that weapons were aboard– a severe attack on the country’s national sovereignty.

So when the UNSC calls on Israel and on Hamas in Gaza to institute an immediate ceasefire, and they refuse, they will attract sanctions, right? These demands, everyone knows, would be full-fledged resolutions if they weren’t watered down by the US. (And let us face it, Israel is the one with the firepower here; it has killed over a thousand in this round of fighting, 80% of them non-combatants; Hamas has killed four dozen or so Israelis, all but three soldiers). I mean, Saddam Hussein was hanged merely for being falsely accused of violating UNSC resolutions! And what if, as with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel not only refuses the demand for an immediate ceasefire but actually accuses the world’s major powers of being accomplices to terrorism? Doesn’t that sound a little bit like Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking of “global arrogance”?

Wouldn’t the UNSC do something to Netanyahu for sassing them that way? Wouldn’t they devastate the Israeli economy the way they did the Iranian? Wouldn’t they authorize military action to protect civilians in Gaza from Israeli war crimes, as they did in Libya?

Nope.

President Obama will protect Israel from any accountability by wielding his veto.

And that is one of the reasons for the mess in the Mideast. The Israeli leadership is completely fearless because it knows that the US will protect it no matter what it does, up to and including calling high American officials terrorist sympathizers.

The truth is that Mr. Obama could end the madness fairly easily. He could just abstain when the UNSC votes sanctions on Israel for its violations of international law.

The European Union has forwarded the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the US, as an American sphere of influence. The US congress and government more generally, in turn, has been bought and paid for by the Israel lobbies, including the “Christian Zionists.” Unless and until counter-lobbies are formed that effectively contest with AIPAC for influence over US representatives, the problems in the Mideast are unsolvable.

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Related video

Gaza Crisis: ‘Accountability & justice for both sides’ says UN chief Ban Ki-moon- BBC News

30 Responses

  1. “The European Union has forwarded the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the US, as an American sphere of influence.” Is that because it’s US Oil /Gas interests at stake there?

  2. To be fair both side ignored UN cease-fire proposal. Hamas wanted israelis troops to depart the Gaza trip before they can agree to a cease-fire. While the israelis wanted the tunnels destroyed. Both side have a legit claim on this matter and this where UN must rise up to these demands. Not just oral cease-fire.

    • Let’s see, Israel has one of the best air forces in the world, warships, well armed and well trained ground forces, and the usual superb collection modern communications and warfare electronics. And the threat from the other side is tunnels.

      So Gaza gives up it’s formidable tunnels, which have obviously been around long before the latest fighting, yet have not facilitated an MSM level attack on Israel. Then what does Israel give up? Not even the right to do it all over again. Hamas dare not grab a shovel, but Israel will repair its damaged equipment, replace it’s lost equipment, and probably shop the US for newer and better stuff.. .

  3. So let us (the rest of the world) BDS the US. No more tourism, buying of good/services produced by/in the US or by US multinationals, and BDS politicians of your own country that buy US made goods (such as munitions, planes, weapons etc.,). Money talks to US citizens, and that will get their attention.

  4. Yes, the US will protect Israel until the pain get too high and then it will stop overnight and throw Israel to the wolves.

    This is the thing Israelis can not seem to understand, the US does not stay bought and when they become un-bought, they get viscous about expressing that.

    I have no idea what the trigger will be, but I can guarantee that the US will eventually not only walk away from Israel but will set it on fire in the process.

    Israel has scorched so much earth, when the US walks away, they will have run out of options. The result will not be pretty, and Israelis will insist that they are “innocent” but will still suffer for their hubris.

    Israel has just accumulated far too many enemies and burned too many “friends.”

    • It may not be so simple.
      In his 1991 book “The Samson Option, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy”, Seymour M. Hersh suggests that the State of Israel, if it feels too threatened, may detonate its atomic bombs to kill its enemies and itself as the biblical Sampson did.
      Judging by Israel’s ongoing military ferocity, the global moral condemnation and the suggested USA abandonment,, Hersh’s admonition seems to be more significant now, 23 years later.
      One of the greatest travesties of the American MSM journalist is that they have withheld from the American public the crucial knowledge that Israel has an arsenal of atomic weapons. Worse yet, MSM journalists, together with the USA government, propagandize Israel as vulnerable.
      Things would be very different if the American public knew about Israeli atomic power.
      Before it is too late, for the sake of Israel and the survival of the rest of the world, we need a decent, open MSM. We ought not die due to having kept our heads in the sand.

      • I don’t think most Israelis are any more interested in committing suicide than any other humans and non-Israeli Jews are definitely not suicidal, although if a group of extremely insane Israelis actually did try the Samson Option, EVERY Jewish human left alive would probably pay a heavy price leading to the end of the Jewish culture..

        Threatening to nuke a substantial part humanity is definitely a sign of insanity and the rest of the world should ensure that Israel is completely disarmed.

        It would not require military power, but basic economic weapons because Israel is not self sufficient in either energy nor food. I suspect that if the sane Israelis started going hungry, the weapons would be turned over fairly quickly, just like Syria decided to turn over their chemical weapons.

        Other than a miniscule number of humans, all humans want to live as long as possible, even when their dreams die..

        • Maybe most Israelis are not suicidal, but it sure looks to me like the ones with the keys to the Dimona Devices are freakin’ crazy, up to and past the mandatory demarcation set by the architects of MADness back in the comfy old duck-and-cover Cold War Days. Ready, willing and able to kill the whole blasted planet, just to be sure that they and their tribe might not win, but by the Ever-Loving G_D they would not be LOSERS, and nobody else was going to Take Over, harumph gumble growl hunch down grimace…

          Seems like the only connection to claims of Global Victimhood the Israelikudians have any more is provided by thick application of the full range of the New! Improved! Luxurious! “Hasbara” Line of Cosmetics (R).

  5. So true, and so sad. As I see the news from Gaza, I feel the same shock and dismay that I felt when we attacked Iraq. In this case, it isn’t the U.S. Army and Air Force, but we provide the weapons and the impunity. Morally, we are complicit. Now, as then I feel helpless, impotent, and deeply saddened. Only Mr. Obama has the power to change this tragic dynamic, yet he does not. I wonder, Is he a coward, or a sociopath? His behavior and his character remain mysterious for me.

    • Hard to understand Obama indeed. Supposed to be smart and balanced, & doesn’t face reelection. Cannot resist the lobbies ? Really disappointing legacy, if not cowardly.

    • Since WWII, the US has left a lot of friends and allies hanging by cutting and running. Notwithstanding, I don’t see this happening with Israel.

  6. why isn’t the mainstream media picking up on the huge disparity between Israeli casualties and Palestinian casualties? It isn’t even close!

  7. Not to distract from Israel’s behavior, but also in Ukraine another US ally gets away with murder. UNSC Resolution S/RES/2166(2014):

    “The Security Council…Demands that all military activities, including by armed groups, be immediately ceased in the immediate area surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation.”

    Australian and Dutch investigators have been unable to get through to the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine for the third day running as fighting continues in the rebel-held region.

    Ukrainian troops “had entered into” the towns of Shakhtarsk and Torez and “battles were continuing for the complete liberation” of the towns of Pervomaysk and Snizhne, the press office for the Ukraine military operation against the insurgents said.

    • The UNSC is just a paper tiger, no matter who they are dealing with. Why? Because either China, Russia, or the US makes it thus by their voting pattern.

    • I wonder if the architects and profiteers who create and maintain “this” give a hoot what “history” offers by way of judgment. “Impunity” is living high and high-handed, dying fat, wealthy and comfortable, with the most toys and the best looking trophies, and knowing there’s not a dam’ thing “history” can do about any of it.

      If ordinary people can’t get their act together and take away the money and toys and fake “legitimacy” of the actors who rule US, there’s not a consequence in the world to stop a dead-end run of all-too-human human idiocy by those we are stupid or fearful enough to let rule US.

  8. Sir,
    Yesterday you posted “Why Obama & Kerry are Furious”.
    I thought it a bit optimistic.
    Now you say: “One major exception to UNSC authority is Israel, which routinely thumbs its nose at the world body while suffering no sanctions or other punishment.”
    Seems to me more realistic.

    To me it is beyond understanding that what today is happening in the Gaza Strip is allowed to happen by the world statesmanship.
    So, I do not buy any guess which optimistically supposes a “solution” which constrains the Israeli strangulation of the Gaza Strip to what can be called a bearable nightmare.

    • Beyond understanding? Perhaps most Countries have too many problems within to really care about other Countries….

  9. This is yet another reason why it is vital that we in the U.S. work to enact meaningful reforms of campaign finance laws and lobbying regulations. We will not have a system that crafts good policies until we make those reforms.

  10. “The truth is that Mr. Obama could end the madness fairly easily. He could just abstain when the UNSC votes sanctions on Israel for its violations of international law.”
    So what is he afraid of? impeachment? assassination?

    • It only takes 34 votes in the Senate to stop Impeachment (what the house does is actually pretty meaningless under Constitution – it is essentially a grand jury request to try the suspect).

    • This gets to how LITTLE Obama has to do: namely let Israel be accountable for its actions. It’d be far less than any active measures. What if Samantha and her potential deputees somehow, accidently, just missed a key vote? Because even this incredibly low bar to US independent action would be next to impossible (and yet, the most realistic and positive scenario I’ve heard.

    • Both consequences are possible. The latter happened to a US president already, and it would seem it had its effect on all the following presidents. But, maybe, the buying-off solution is the one the most used and most efficient. After all, the yearly 3 billions are a huge and steady source of money to use back in the U.S.A. for special political ops…

  11. Oh, the story gets even better than this.

    The latest reports out of Israel is that Netanyahu has been advised to sideline Kerry by….
    …. wait for it….
    …. wait for it…
    …. wait for it…
    … writing his own UNSC Resolution (Chapter VII?) and then ramming that Israel-crafted resolution down the Security Council’s throat.

    Apparently Israeli hubris and chutzpah is so immense that it thinks it can
    (a) shaft the US Secretary of State
    but still expect that
    (b) the US will still snap to attention at the UN.

    Hmmmm, actually, they may be right.

    But get all the other members of that Security Council to drop their pants? Why, exactly, would they do that?

  12. “UNSC resolutions against the North Korean nuclear weapons program (a kind of military program Iran does not even have) imposed an arms embargo and even permitted other countries to board North Korean vessels at will on the high seas if they suspected that weapons were aboard– a severe attack on the country’s national sovereignty. ”

    Not when those ships transported weapons resupply from Russia to Ethiopia to be used in the west’s proxy war on Somalia! Not even a whimper from the US… Which the NY Times noted had sponsored the sanctions.

    Much like my town’s laws that are selectively enforced against the poor displaced, and homeless, apparently UN sanctions are selectively enforced as well.

  13. Just to remind you buddies, Israel accepted the ceasefire, which was broken by Hamas an hour and a half after it started…

    • “Just to remind you buddies,” (you aren’t my ‘buddy’ dude) that’s what Israel claims:

      “…The Palestinian Islamic Resistance movement, Hamas, has rejected the accusations of the UN and the US that it bears responsibility for the collapse of the humanitarian truce which started on Friday morning.

      Hamas spokesman Dr Sami Abu-Zuhri said in a statement that blaming Hamas for the breakdown of the truce is “illogical.” He added: “The UN [statement] has taken the side of Israel.”

      Abu-Zuhri said that a shootout took place inside the Gaza Strip after Israeli forces violated the truce and entered the territory. “The Palestinian resistance responded as an act of self-defence,” he said.

      The UN statement concentrated on the issue of the missing Israeli soldier. The Israeli occupation quickly used the issue to justify its attacks on civilians. Meanwhile, Abu-Zuhri said, the UN statement deliberately ignored the massacre.

      According to Palestinian officials, Israel violated the truce by targeting civilians who had returned to their destroyed houses in Rafah as soon as the truce went into effect.
      link to middleeastmonitor.com.”

      Hamas also says thy don’t know wtf happened to one IDF trooper, that he was likely part of the pile of body parts and pink/purple mush that was created by the firefight

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