As the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza continues, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the Security Council to intervene immediately to stop this aggression. The spokesman for the Palestinian presidency also warned the US administration against allowing the Israeli occupation authorities to persist in their continuous crimes against the Palestinian people, especially children, women, and sanctities.
However, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan announced on 11 May that his country had succeeded in preventing the issuance of a statement condemning it in the UN Security Council because of the current military operation in Gaza. Erdan confirmed to the Israeli Army Radio that Israel succeeded in stopping a proposal in the UN Security Council, a few hours ago, to publish a statement condemning it, and the hearing last night ended with nothing. Consequently, the Israeli Defense Minister stressed that the military operation in Gaza has not ended yet, expressing the Israeli army’s readiness to prolong the operation launched in the Gaza Strip.
This is not the first time that the Security Council has retracted its condemnation of Israel at the last minute in response to the American and Israeli pressures that both sides are proud to announce. Last February, for example, after reportedly intense efforts by American diplomacy, a draft resolution condemning the Israeli occupation was retracted. Instead, the Security Council adopted a weak, non-binding presidential statement with wording that reaffirms the right of all nations “to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders.” It also asserts that “both peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, have the right to equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, justice, and dignity.”
The Security Council also affirmed in this presidential statement, which was softened under pressure from the United States, “its firm commitment to the vision of a two-state solution, where two democratic states live; Israel and Palestine, side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, under international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. In this softened statement, the Security Council also expressed its “extreme concern and indignation at Israel’s announcement on 12 February 2023, of further construction and expansion of settlements and the legalization of outposts,” reiterating that “the continuation of Israeli settlement activities seriously threatens the viability of the two-state solution,” the basis of the 1967 lines.
The Security Council declared that it “strongly opposes all unilateral measures that impede peace, including, among others, Israeli construction and expansion of settlements, confiscation of Palestinian land, legalization of outposts, demolition of Palestinian homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians.” However, American pressure prevented the issuance of a binding decision as usual. It is also worth noting that Washington described its ability to pressure the Security Council to back down from issuing a binding resolution, despite its deep dissatisfaction with the crimes committed by the Israeli entity, as “real diplomatic skill.”
With that double-standard American diplomacy, President Joe Biden’s administration was able to avoid a potential diplomatic crisis regarding Israeli settlements that could constitute a political headache for him as he approaches the 2024 presidential elections. This is at a time when Washington was leading Western efforts in the United Nations and abroad to highlight and condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the first anniversary of the war.
Also last year, specifically in June 2022, the Security Council held a ministerial session on accountability and non-impunity for violators of international law and perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. However, unfortunately, it turned out that the main purpose of this session was to target Russia only because of its war on Ukraine. Western countries remembered that international law must be applied and that no one should escape accountability or punishment, but only in Ukraine. But the daily atrocities committed by Israel against a defenseless, besieged, oppressed occupier, and its continued violation of international law, do not matter to talk about it. Most importantly, the assassination of journalist Sherine Abu Aqleh was mentioned, but the Council was unable to classify that crime as a war crime, which confirms that political considerations prevent the Security Council from playing a real and influential role in the Palestinian cause in particular.
The situation today in the Palestinian territories is more dangerous than ever. Israel currently enjoys unprecedented regional diplomatic recognition, with few international or domestic restrictions on its activities in the West Bank, in addition to the return of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power with a violent far-right coalition, along with Washington’s absolute protection for Israel in international organizations when Facing valid allegations of violations of international law constitutes a grave threat that the Palestinian people cannot confront.
These intertwined factors that gathered at one time lead only to one result, which is the complete elimination of the two-state solution and the success of Israel in launching a single state, which will of course be based on the principle of apartheid. There is also a more serious threat, which is the ability of Israel to expel the Palestinians from the West Bank or even Jerusalem.
The current Netanyahu government, made up of a coalition of religious right-wingers and ultra-nationalists, is making its intentions public with blunt bravado. Members of this government flaunt their mission to create a new Israel that is less liberal, more religious, and more willing to discriminate against non-Jews. Netanyahu repeatedly emphasized that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens” but rather “of the Jewish people only.” Itamar Ben Gvir, who was appointed by Netanyahu as national security minister, also declared that Gaza should be “ours” and that “Palestinians can go to Saudi Arabia or other places, like Iraq or Iran.”
All tangible evidence on the ground confirms that this government, which enjoys absolute American and Western support, seeks to consolidate the concept of an apartheid state and impose its control over all Palestinian lands, including the Gaza Strip, by force and a fait accompli. What confirms this claim is the escalation of violence since the advent of this government in all its forms, such as expropriation and human rights violations, in addition to the rise in tension between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupation authorities. This is especially after what the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s grounds have witnessed recently of repeated incursions and continuous attacks on worshipers in the Temple Mount, attacks on Christians and preventing them from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, in addition to the military operations on the Gaza Strip and the expansion of the settlements in the West Bank lands. According to reports, this escalation is the bloodiest since 2005.
Add to all of the above, the fact that the attitude of American public opinion has changed significantly in recent times. This is where support for the two-state solution decreased, and support for one state that guarantees equal citizenship increased throughout the year. Of course, this is due to the loud voices within the elites close to the decision-making circles in the United States and some Western countries, which call for adopting a one-state solution as a fait accompli, especially with the approaching 2024 elections and Biden’s desire to satisfy the Jewish lobby. This is because they consider this to be a legitimate Israeli right, given that Israel is a liberal state, and they are trying to delude the world with that false truth.
Indeed, despite the artificial adoption of the Biden administration for the two-state solution, this administration bears a great responsibility in consolidating the one-state reality based on apartheid. It is sufficient to say that the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank would not have continued and accelerated, and the occupation would not have survived had it not been for the efforts of the United States and this administration, in particular, to protect Israel from repercussions in the United Nations and other international organizations.
Dr. Marwa El-Shinawy: Academic and writer