The UN Security Council may vote as soon as today on a resolution setting a twelve-month deadline to achieve a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal and calling on Israel to withdraw from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip by the end of 2017.
The draft was formally put forward by Jordan at the behest of Mahmoud Abbas, the de facto leader of the Palestinian Authority bantustan.
The text of the resolution was published in the Israeli daily Haaretz and is reproduced in full below.
PA foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said, as Haaretz reports, that the resolution is a “French-sponsored version.”
Here’s why I hope that one of the permanent members – almost certainly it will be the Obama administration – vetoes this terrible resolution.
I evaluate any steps related to Palestine through a simple and consistent lens: does this measure take us closer to the fulfillment of Palestinian rights, all Palestinian rights?
These rights are set out most succinctly in the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS): an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land during and since 1967; an end to Israel’s institutionalized racism against Palestinians in present-day Israel (the areas on which Israel was established in 1948); and the return of Palestinian refugees to their land and homes.
I believe in a positive vision of a Palestine whole and free, where all people live in a decolonized and reunified territory without discrimination based on religion or ethnicity and without sectarian territorial partition.
Those “recognition” initiatives are an effort to undo the death of the “two-state solution” and rescue Israel as a racist Jewish state, as Joseph Massad explained in an essential article for The Electronic Intifada this week.
This resolution tries to do exactly the same thing, except in a more legally binding and therefore dangerous manner. It makes the claim that “a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-state solution.”
It insists that the entire question of Palestine be reduced to the question of the 1967 occupation and that merely ending this occupation would effectively end all Palestinian claims.
The resolution uses vague, deceptive and in some places outright dishonest language that would enshrine in international law the “liberal” Zionist two-state solution and deal a devastating blow to Palestinian rights, particularly the right of return for refugees.
The places it speaks about “rights” relate to the Palestinian “right to self-determination” – a vague formula which has come to mean in effect a bantustan state and no more.
It also states the “right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders” – meaning in effect that it recognizes Israel’s “right” to be a racist state.
As of this writing, there were reports the draft could still be amended in order to try to avoid a US veto. But of course any further amendments would make it worse than it already is.
The resolution is long, so I will not go through every point but I will raise a few key issues.
The right of return
The resolution does not speak about the “rights” of Palestinian refugees. Instead it speaks about the “the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative.”
(UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948 resolves that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date” and should receive compensation).
This draft speaks of a “just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace Initiative [sic], international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194.”
This convoluted language – which refers to the Arab League “peace initiative” of 2002 – is designed to reassure Israel that Palestinians would not insist on their right of return but would instead accept various relocation and resettlement plans designed to guarantee Israel its violently gerrymandered Jewish majority. (I explained how the Arab Peace Initiative undermines Palestinian rights, especially refugee rights, in a 2008 brief for the Palestine Center.)
Palestinian refugees are not the “problem.” Israel’s denial of their rights, solely on the racist basis that they are not Jewish, is the problem.
The draft resolution declares among other things that “the negotiated solution will be based” on “borders based on 4 June 1967 borders with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent and swaps.”
The repeated insistence on the term “based on” here is very much like when we are told that an almost entirely fictional and fantastical Hollywood movie is “based on a true story.”
This is simply a formula to allow Israel to keep most, if not all, of the illegal colonies it has built in the occupied West Bank including Jerusalem – as the Abbas authority has previously proposed and endorsed.
In fact, under precisely the same formula, Abbas offered Israel that it could keep virtually all of the settlements, resulting in what PA negotiator Saeb Erekat called, using the Hebrew name for Jerusalem, “the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history.”
It is especially notable that the draft resolution calls for a “phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces which will end the occupation that began in 1967” by the end of 2017.
But nowhere does it call for the dismantling of Israeli settlements or withdrawal of settlers. It only calls for the withdrawal of “security forces.” Instead it adopts a version of the US formula that settlements are merely an “obstacle” to “peace.”
True, the draft states that the “policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
But earlier resolutions, for example UN Security Council Resolution 465 of 1980, demand that Israel actually “dismantle the existing settlements and … cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning” of new ones. This draft mentions resolution 465 in passing in its preamble but does not repeat its explicit demand that settlements must be removed from occupied land.
This is because the resolution is, in effect, pro-settler and pro-settlement.
Replacing Israeli with American occupation?
Along the lines of previous failed “peace” initiatives, this draft resolution calls for Israeli occupation forces to be replaced by “a third-party presence.” In the past, Palestinian Authority figures have spoken of asking American or NATO armed forces to take the place of Israeli occupation forces to act as Israel’s proxy and protector.
In this way, Israel would be relieved of all the direct costs of occupation but would continue to enjoy its full benefits.
The draft resolution repeats the lie that over the last few years under the dictatorial leadership of Abbas there has been “important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts.” Many have debunked this lie, but I have done so in detail in my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine.
The only thing that Abbas has built is a terrifying “security” apparatus – a police (non)state that collaborates with the Israeli occupation to suppress Palestinians.
Such is the oppression and fear of this petty dictatorship that two-thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank are now afraid of criticizing Abbas lest they be harassed or worse by his Israeli-backed and American- and EU-financed militias and intelligence.
The vision this Abbas-backed resolution puts forward is the same old prison for Palestinians masquerading as “self-determination” and “statehood” that Palestinians have resisted and rejected for decades.
The fact that Israel opposes the resolution should not fool anyone. This is because, as Massad explained, the current Israeli government prefers forcible annexation of all the land to the step-by-step “liberal” Zionist approach that this resolution embodies.
But in the end the result is the same: Israel gets the settlements and the land and gets to remain a racist state while Palestinians surrender their rights.
We are now in the bizarre position where the most likely course to save Palestinians from this disaster is an American veto.
Full text: Draft UN Resolution
This is the draft of the UN resolution as published by Haaretz:
Draft Resolution (17 December 2014)
Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967); 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,
Reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,
Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947,
Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,
Affirming the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative,
Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, including the sustained and regular opening of its border crossings for normal flow of persons and goods, in accordance with international humanitarian law,
Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognised by the World Bank and the IMF in 2012 and reiterating its call to all States and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for independence,
Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties, and fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties,
Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001),
Recalling the obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict,
Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,
Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013/14 to facilitate and advance negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement,
Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a long-term solution to the conflict,
Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfills the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders;
Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters:
borders based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps ;
security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine, including through a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed the end of 2017, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effective border security and by preventing the resurgence of terrorism and effectively addressing security threats, including emerging and vital threats in the region.
A just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace Initiative, international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III);
Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States which fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship;
an agreed settlement of other outstanding issues, including water;
Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to the occupation and an end to all claims and lead to immediate mutual recognition;
Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed at the center of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution;
Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations within the timeframe defined in the present resolution;
Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and refraining from all acts of incitement and provocative acts or statements, and also calls upon all States and international organizations to support the parties in confidence-building measures and to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations;
Calls upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;
Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighborly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative;
Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that ensures the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status, including through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements, and welcomes the proposition to hold an international conference that would launch the negotiations;
Calls upon both parties to abstain from any unilateral and illegal actions, including settlement activities, that could undermine the viability of a two-State solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;
Calls for immediate efforts to redress the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip, including through the provision of expanded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations agencies and through serious efforts to address the underlying issues of the crisis, including consolidation of the ceasefire between the parties;
Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months;
Decides to remain seized of the matter.