Opinion

Obama’s Legacy: Is Resolution 2334 Really a Stance with Palestine?

December 26, 2016
Source: Wikimedia Commons

By Ali Nasrallah

The UN security council has voted 14-0 in favor of a resolution condemning israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while the U.S. abstained from voting. Thus, a new number is added to the list of U.N. resolutions: 2334.

The resolution gained widespread media coverage, especially with the diplomatic drama between the Obama administration, Netanyahu administration, Donald Trump, and Sisi’s administration – which initially adopted the resolution before withdrawing it, under pressure from Trump.

There are many people cheering the new UN resolution because it states that israeli settlements are illegal. The credit goes primarily to Obama as the U.S. has abstained from voting and didn’t veto the resolution as it usually does. Obama, who has four weeks left as president, orchestrated this stunt for his own personal gain. This will contribute to his legacy in twofold; he wants to be remembered as a president who tried to protect israel from itself destroying the dream of a Jewish democratic state by reviving the two state solution, and to be remembered as a president who stood up against the conspicuous injustice towards Palestinians. This move will add to his legacy without the consequences of having to go head to head with israel to actually enforce the resolution.

This move will add to [Obama’s] legacy without the consequences of having to go head to head with israel to actually enforce the resolution.

To spare you a few minutes of reading the resolution, it is bullshit. It does nothing but state the obvious; it’s the equivalent of a UN resolution condemning rape. The resolution condemns settlement building, which has been stated many times in the past and has been supported by various UN resolutions already like resolution 446 in 1979 that affirms that “the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”.

The new resolution is also unsatisfactory in comparison to the previous 465 resolution and doesn’t address important issues like its predecessor, which “calls upon the government and people of Israel to rescind those measures, to dismantle the existing settlements”, and addresses the depletion of natural resources particularly water resources in occupied Palestinian lands. Additionally, the new resolution desperately tries to breathe life back into the long dead two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli “conflict”.

This can be seen in the U.S. delegation’s speech by Samantha Power to the U.N regarding the resolution: “It is because this forum too often continues to be biased against Israel; because there are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed in this resolution; and because the United States does not agree with every word in this text, that the United States did not vote in favor of the resolution. But it is because this resolution reflects the facts on the ground – and is consistent with U.S. policy across Republican and Democratic administration throughout the history of the State of Israel – that the United States did not veto it.”. And then she adds: “The settlement problem has gotten so much worse that it is now putting at risk the very viability of that two-state solution.”

We tend to have very short memory. So to remind you, settlements are already illegal. The Fourth Geneva Convention that was held in 1949 and became a part of the international law explicitly states in article 49: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” To add insult to injury, israel has violated tens of UN resolutions previously. When it comes to the Obama administration, it has recently signed a memorandum of understanding to provide $38 billion in security assistance to israel over the next 10 years, the largest single pledge of military assistance in U.S. history to any country. Furthermore, a similar resolution by the UN security council has been vetoed by the U.S. in 2011.

Netanyahu has already rejected the resolution, saying that israel will not abide by its terms, and called it “shameful”. To be effective, such a resolution needs to have an extensive monitoring system and penalties to israel if it does not oblige. Economic sanctions and military sanctions could’ve been a choice, as we’ve seen with Iran, North Korea, Syria, and others. However, the resolution contains no consequences to israel if it does not cease to build settlements. Obama’s attempt is too late and void as it will have no real results. Obama had eight years to end the settlements and coerce israel to compel, but he only decided to act now.

The only benefit of such a resolution is to use it as an updated version of past UN resolutions to back the ever increasing pace of the global Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement (BDS). The new resolution affirms that the settlement issue is still relevant and that israel has no intentions of reaching a solution with Palestinians.

With the rise of the far right in israel and the U.S with Netanyahu’s and Trump’s wins, the two state solution is officially dead. This resolution is nothing but a futile PR stunt for Obama to state that he’s against settlements and that he supports a two state solution that guarantees israel’s hegemony and its dream of a democratic Jewish state.
The struggle continues.