The U.N.’s repeated buckling to U.S. and Israeli pressure stands contrary to claims of an anti-Israel bias.
By Ben White / Al Jazeera
August 12, 2017
When Haley, Netanyahu and others make the accusation that everyone is singling out Israel, “in fact, the exception is made in the reverse direction — Palestine is singled out from similar treatment to other colonies or other peoples living under foreign domination and subjugation. Palestine, like other sites of settler-colonialism, remains an exception to the world order.”
— Noura Erakat, human rights lawyer
Nikki Haley, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, made headlines in June when she denounced what she claimed was a pattern of “anti-Israel” behavior at the U.N.
“I have never taken kindly to bullies, and the U.N. has bullied Israel for a very long time,” she said. “We are not going to let that happen any more. It is a new day for Israel in the United Nations.”
While Haley’s words were music to Israeli leaders’ ears and echoed long-standing talking points of pro-Israel advocacy groups, analysts say there is little substance to her allegations that, in the words of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Israel has been “the U.N.’s punching bag.”
According to human rights lawyer Noura Erakat, the attention given to Israel/Palestine at the U.N. harkens back to a particular historical moment in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when “national liberation movements and newly decolonized countries used the U.N. as a site of protest” against “imperialistic” Western politics.
While issues concerning Namibia, South Africa, Cape Verde, Vietnam, Laos and others have in one way or another been resolved, Erakat told Al Jazeera, “the only one that hasn’t is Palestine.”
In 2016, the U.N. Security Council’s activity focused on the likes of North Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Somalia and Libya. Sudan and South Sudan produced the most Security Council resolutions last year, with 11, while just one resolution dealt with Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. It was the first in almost eight years.
It is a different story, however, elsewhere within the U.N., where Israel faces frequent condemnation for its actions through bodies such as the U.N. Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.
“Undoubtedly, the UNHRC and General Assembly do devote disproportionate attention to Israel/Palestine,” South African international law professor John Dugard, the U.N.’s former special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, told Al Jazeera.
“But this must be viewed in the context of the UN political organs as a whole,” Dugard added. “The Security Council and Quartet on the Middle East [U.N., European Union, United States and Russia] are notoriously pro-Israel and refuse to pay adequate attention to Palestinian issues.”