UK abstains in UNSC vote calling for end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday December 31 2014
Al Jazeera and BBC News cover the UN Security Council vote yesterday on a resolution submitted by the Palestinian Authority calling for a peace settlement with Israel within a year and an end to Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian Territories by 2017.
The vote required nine votes in favour to pass but failed by one vote.
BBC News relays the voting pattern of the 15 members of the Security Council:
- Russia, China, France, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg voted in favour
- The US and Australia voted against
- The UK, Lithuania, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda abstained
The Palestinians, who believed they had secured the support of nine countries to pass the resolution expressed surprise at Nigeria’s turn of heart. The Guardian reveals that “The apparent change by Nigeria, which is a rotating member of the council, came after both the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the US secretary of state, John Kerry, phoned the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, to ask him not to support the resolution.”
The US envoy to the UN, Samantha Power, said after the vote: “We voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because… peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table.”
The US’s position is particularly galling in its dependence on ‘hard comprises that occur at the negotiating table” when the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, himself expressed that Israel was on a fast track to becoming an ‘apartheid state’ if she failed to engage constructively in the US-sponsored peace talks.
Sir Alan Duncan, former Minister for International Development, expressed much the same disdain for Israel’s reluctance to get serious about peace in a speech earlier this year stating:
“Everything for a sensible agreement was offered by the Palestinians – borders, land swaps, the retention of some major settlements, a shared Jerusalem, a demilitarised Palestine. They even started by offering all these main components of a sustainable agreement, yet the Israeli Government finished by having offered absolutely nothing substantial… But we all stuck by the process.”
Sir Alan went further and criticised the support shown for a ‘process’ that had manifestly failed to deliver peace adding, “But the price we have paid for focussing only on the process is that we have increasingly lost sight of the principle. The principle that has been sacrificed and subordinated to the false dawn of process is the stand we ought to make on Israel’s illegal settlements.”
Despite this, and a non-binding motion passed by Parliament in October overwhelmingly supporting statehood recognition for Palestine, the UK abstained in yesterday’s vote. Not that this should come as any surprise to British supporters of Palestine’s right to self-determination. During Israel’s savage assault on Gaza this summer, neither the Prime Minister nor the Conservative Foreign Secretary could bring themselves to describe Israel’s brutality as disproportionate. And if the PM’s address at the Chanukah reception at Downing Street this month is anything to go by, we can expect a re-run of Conservative obsequiousness to Jewish voters as we approach the next general election. Not that this will prevent the party from falsely declaring its fulsome support for the two-state solution while it, hypocritically, does everything it can to prevent its realisation.