Palestine goes to UN Security Council to Demand Israeli Withdrawal by 2016

By Juan Cole

AP reports that Palestine is presenting a resolution to the United Nations Security Council (through its “Arab Group”) calling for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, by 2016. Palestine will argue that Israel has systematically and over decades violated all the international laws regulating military occupations, and that it is quickly marching toward being an Apartheid state (Apartheid is itself a form of crime against humanity).

The UN Security Council has five permanent and ten rotating members, but each of the five permanent members can exercise a veto. The United States, despite prevaricating statements attempting to represent itself as an honest broker, has almost always vetoed any UNSC resolution criticizing Israeli actions, even though these actions clearly violate the Hague Regulations on Occupied Territories, the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statute and other bodies of international law.

So the likelihood is that the US will veto the resolution of Mahmoud Abbas. Though who knows, maybe a lame duck Barack Obama will finally show some spine and simply abstain instead of vetoing. The UNSC can put economic sanctions on Israel if it is defied (just as it has sanctioned Iran and North Korea, two other egregious violators of international human rights norms.)

If the US does veto the resolution, then Washington is clearly saying that it is all right with American elites if Israel goes on stealing Palestinian land on a vast scale and expropriating and oppressing the stateless Palestinians under its boot.

In that case, Palestinian circles are suggesting that Mahmoud Abbas will have no choice but finally to go to the International Criminal Court to charge Israel with crimes against humanity (i.e. systematic war crimes). This step is serious, since the US cannot block the ICC and any judgment it delivered against Israel would be taken seriously in the European Union and many other countries.

I wrote last spring:

Palestine president Mahmoud Abbas … signed a some 15 international treaties and UN legal instruments, including the Geneva Conventions, in preparation for going to the International Criminal Court over Israel’s illegal flooding of hundreds of thousands of Israeli squatters into the West Bank. These squatters have for the most part never paid Palestinians for the land on which they build their homes. They completely exclude Palestinians from their colonies on Palestinian land. Often they prevent Palestinian farmers from harvesting their crops near the settlements. They commit vandalism against Palestinian property and sometimes just shoot down Palestinian civilians. Over time, they aim to make an Palestinian state impossible by turning it prospective territory into Swiss cheese…

. . . the Palestinians signed the UN instruments and treaties that would strengthen their hand when and if they take their case to the International Criminal Court. They are also joining more UN agencies and committees, something both Israel and the US have opposed, since they don’t want Palestine recognized as a state by the international community before Israel itself can set the terms for such a state.

The ICC was established by the 2002 Rome Statute, so that previous generations of Palestinians would not have been able to resort to it. Even then, it could only take up cases of member nations, and since Israel had not signed the treaty and Palestine was not a member state, the ICC could not consider the case of Palestine until recently. Another way a non-member state can be taken to the ICC is if the UN Security Council forwards a case to it. But the US screws over the Palestinians by consistently vetoing any UNSC ruling against Israel.

When the United Nations General Assembly voted in 2012 to admit Palestine as a non-member UN observer state’]) United Nations General Assembly voted in 2012 to admit Palestine as a non-member UN observer state (the same status as the Vatican enjoys), however, it opened the door for Palestine to take Israel’s squatting policy to the ICC. Palestine as an observer state can sign the Rome Statute and can initiate a case against Israel. Previous to 2012, Palestinians had no standing before the court since they were not recognized as a state at all.

The Palestinian leadership is said to have unanimously backed Abbas in taking this step.

Abbas said, “We do not want to use this right against anyone, and do not want a confrontation with America. For we have an excellent relationship with it.” He praised Secretary of State John Kerry for his energetic diplomacy on the issue.

“We just could find no other path forward.” Given Israeli footdragging on the prisoner release, Abbas said, he was going to join UN organizations and agencies. He had agreed to put that off for 9 months, but that period has come to a close.

Palestine has gained nothing from the negotiations, since Israel has increased the size of the settlements and announced thousands of new housing units on Palestinian land since August when they began. In essence, Israel has been grabbing up the very territory over which the negotiations are being held– sort of like if you’re talking with friend how to share a piece of cake when suddenly he starts eating it up.



Related Video:

Euronews: “Abbas describes Israel’s ‘war of genocide'”

27 Responses

  1. Why wait until 2016 to take Israel to the ICC? Abbas has had plenty of opportunity to do just this since at long last Palestine to the belated step of becoming an observer state at the UN. There will be no change in Israeli policy towards the occupied territories unless it is forced to do so. I suspect this is a stalling tactic on the part of Abbas until the next “election” in the occupied territories which he hopes to win by appearing at last to be proactive before lapsing once again into complicity with Israel in their ongoing crimes against the Palestinians.

    • Abbas: “We do not want to use this right against anyone, and do not want a confrontation with America. For we have an excellent relationship with it”

      I agree. The words above do not sound like a man driven to secure justice for his people. They sound like a weak leader who is kowtowing to a country that has vetoed 41 votes in the UN Security Council.

      I don’t see how anyone that has been vetoed 41 times can call that an “excellent relationship”

      Unfortunately, if Abbas loses the next election and Hamas should win it (Will Hamas even have a representative???), the US & Israel also have that base covered to prolong the whole ordeal (they won’t negotiate with Hamas (terrorist)).

      And round and round we go…

    • Depressingly accurate. After the drawnout Kerry peace progress, Palestinians head for the UN even though the US must have privately told them they will veto any progress. Then in a couple of years – maybe – the ICC. All the hallmarks of timewasting.

    • “Lastly, the Palestinian Authority, an entity that was created with Israeli consent, and funded by US-led donor countries, cannot operate outside the US political sphere. According to a reading of the just published annual report by the Palestinian Monitory Authority, as reported by Ma’an news agency, the West Bank economic indicators for 2012 were terrible, and prospects for the next two years are even worse. The PA has no political vision, and even if it did, it is too overwhelmed by economic dependency to act as a self-respecting political entity. The PA has to play the game, fully knowing that the game has been rigged from the very start.” – link to

  2. The US will veto it again. Because that’s what the US does.

    It’ll provide more evidence that the United States’ vaunted moral superiority exists only in the imaginings of idealists and children. This may help to force a change in US policy in the long term if it becomes more difficult for the nation to find willing partners in their endeavours, but it also may not.

    I’m hopeful that the Palestinians will gain something out of the process, but I’m pessimistic and expect that they’ll have to go through another round of ramped up collective punishments.

  3. The fact that the only hope is that “a lame duck Barack Obama will finally show some spine and simply abstain instead of vetoing” shows the control of US politics and mass media by the right wing of Israel. I suspect that anyone guided by principle would have had enough courage long ago, and anyone with the visibility of the president could and would blow the whistle if he wanted to, if he had no freedom to act in the best interests of the nation. Fear of being reviled in the press when he is the first black president, would not be an excuse for abdicating essential duty. I find no excuse for him at all, but would be delighted to be proven wrong.

    • Obama has mid-term Congressional elections coming up, so don’t expect him to do anything groundbreaking between now and Election Day in November.

  4. Obama, exercising his customary hypocrisy, will veto the Palestinian resolution: this, in the face of having financed Israel’s massacre of more than 2,150 Gazans, more than 500 of them children. Obama, the not-so-great-IMPOSTOR!

  5. Of course, Obama will veto the resolution (unless the US can strongarm enough other members to oppose it). But it is not just a spineless Obama. Every President since Truman has kowtowed to the Israeli right wing with the possible exception of the elder Bush and Carter. ( both were made to pay for it).
    more to the point is the fact that Israel and the US have managed to coopt the PA through the Quisling Abbas. He seems much more interested in playing the “peace process” game and retaining his perks than in actually accomplishing something for the Palestinians. He is in office illegally, his term having expired many years ago. The Democratic will of the Palestinian people has been repeatedly thwarted. Ther is little or no hope as long as the Quisling regime is in power.

  6. Once again Israel punched Abbas and Obama in the elevator of abuse yesterday. The cameras are rolling and the whole world is watching. Netanyahu kicked Obama in the cajones once again. So has anything changed with how this will turn out? US will veto justice once again next fall.

  7. Yesterday on one of the MSNBC programs Andrea Mitchell said that Netanyahu knows that the US congress has his “back” This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Scarborough even demonstrated a bit of spine and said Israel’s latest announcement was a “cheap shot” he asked Israel “why provoke”

    Daniel Levy on Al Jazeera America said that Israel will not be “held accountable” once again. He threw out an interesting stat that “1 in 10 Israeli’s now live beyond the green line”. Al Jazeera America is almost as great as Democracy Now. Still no attention on 310 (as of Monday) US led air strikes in Syria and Iraq and the more than likely killing of innocent people. No accounting anywhere that I can find

  8. After having pinned their hopes on the United States as an honest broker for many years and having been disappointed time and time again, the Palestinians have no other option but to take the matter into their own hands and go through the UN and ICC route. If America vetoes a resolution again, it will show the whole world, including the Muslim and the Arab world, that the American government only does Israel’s bidding. This could not be in the long-term interest of the United States and it might persuade enough Americans to force their government to change course. American electorate has certainly had enough of Israeli belligerence and the attitude towards Israel’s extremist policies are changing.

  9. If the US does veto the resolution, then Washington is clearly saying that it is all right with American elites if Israel goes on stealing Palestinian land on a vast scale and expropriating and oppressing the stateless Palestinians under its boot.

    Make that: If the US does veto the resolution, then Washington is clearly continuing to say that it is all right with American elites if Israel goes on stealing Palestinian land on a vast scale and expropriating and oppressing the stateless Palestinians under its boot.

  10. It’s worth a few minutes to add some context to the frame that has been wrapped around the notions of “settlers” and “settlements.” Good job by the Likudians, hasbara-izing the slow cancerous invasion, occupation, displacement and killing of Palestinians and others, for all the complex and ugly reasons and by all the evil means discussed and displayed in these little articles:

    link to

    And Living the American Dream in the West Bank
    Hanging Out with Israel’s Illegal Homesteaders
    link to

  11. I thought a petition had gone around the world, calling for Israel to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity? They also want PM Harper to be tried as well. Harper encouraged Israel to make war on Palestine.

    Israel is now expropriating land from Palestine, to build new settlements for themselves.

    • Harper would counter that serious accusation of observable massacres by Israel against the non-existent native Palestinian population in his eyes, claiming it to be a sign of a’new age of anti-semitism’…

  12. The DOS press briefing on October 1 revealed a uniquely tough position on the latest Jerusalem settlement announcements;

    Matt Lee: … but I wanted to know if you got answers to some questions that have been raised over the past couple days about Israeli activity or plans in East Jerusalem, also on the Palestinian draft resolution that’s been floating around at the – in New York today.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. We are deeply concerned by reports that the Israeli Government has moved forward the planning process in the sensitive area of Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem. This step is contrary to Israel’s stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians, and it would send a very troubling message if they proceed with tenders or construction. This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies; poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians, but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations; and call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

    and then later in the same briefing:

    QUESTION: But based on your – this is contrary to Israel’s stated goal, you’re condemning it, you say it poisons the atmosphere and calls into question their commitment, what’s the consequence of that? Is there one? Is there any?
    MS. PSAKI: Look, I think, Matt, that it’s not just the United States, it’s the international community who will respond strongly to this kind of continued activity.

    I may be reading too much into it but that seems to suggest the US may be ready to let the International community pick up the baton, which could imply that the Administration is not going to interfere with Abbas’ next steps. Spine?

    link to

    • Nice catch. We’ll see. But the Administration has already said it will veto Palestinian resolution on 3 year time-table for withdrawal. Maybe the Europeans will float one condemning settlements.

      • It’s an interesting moment. I think you are right and the Administration will veto it but only because it’s hands are tied. So long as the US veto stands alone, it will be seen an offer of self sacrifice on the pyre of Zionist aspirations. The gamble, and I would say it’s a good one, is that the the US will sustain the damage but Netanyahu won’t.

    • Uri Avinery, currently 90 years of age and a former Knesset member, represents Israel’s far left and was a close friend of Yasser Arafat.

      He had warned PM Golda Meir in the 1970s about the rise of Palestinian nationalism when she doubted Arabs had any legitimate claim to a Palestinian state.

  13. I wouldn’t ever rely on President Obama lame duck or not showing any spine. Has anyone seen the minimum wage increase he proposed? Has he campaigned for it like G.W. Bush did the Iraq war? He’s a profound disappointment and folds quicker than a lawn chair.

  14. 2016 is too far away. It is time Abbas did what is best for his people, who have suffered for decades. Enough of pleasing the US and Israel. Time the Arab nations stepped in and supported them. Abbas must realize that the US is not an honest broker, and that Israel is it’s top priority.

  15. The US will quietly veto the petition to take this to the security council. If the US provides an explanation it will be on some hyper-technical grounds such as a procedural glitch, or an issue of legal standing, or whatever. The US got Israel’s back

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