In the past twenty-four hours United Nations bodies have engaged in a frenzied attack on Israel over the Turkish-facilitated effort to end the naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. In the process, the Obama administration’s Israel policy has been outed.
With virtually unprecedented speed and only hours to go before the Lebanese presidency of the UN Security Council expired at midnight on May 31st the Council unanimously agreed on a Presidential Statement – with American approval. And in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) unanimously decided to invent new procedural rules and hold its first-ever “urgent debate”, with no objection from the United States.
The Obama administration had options. In the past, the United States has avoided efforts to railroad presidential statements or resolutions through the Security Council by allowing only so-called “press statements” made on behalf of just some of its members.
It also could have put its toe in the water and waited until 12:01 a.m. when the presidency would have been transferred to Mexico, thereby slowing the campaign for a middle-of-the-night UN grenade lobbed without time for informed consideration.
Or the administration might have pointed out that the Council could spend its time dealing with international peace and security items constantly delayed or ignored, like an Iranian bomb or the torpedoing of a South Korean naval ship by North Korea.
At the Human Rights Council, the United States could have objected to the invention of the new procedure. After all, it joined the HRC specifically with the promise to end the one-sided fixation of the UN system on Israel. The HRC has carefully-drafted rules allowing it to hold exceptional special sessions. It also has a carefully itemized regular agenda and its fourteenth such session began on May 31st.
Today, the HRC was in the midst of agenda item three, the permanent Israel-bashing agenda item being number seven. All these procedures were thrown out the window and the political lynch mob let loose without a peep from the Obama administration.
Day two of the HRC’s “regular” session, therefore, saw the entire afternoon devoted to the flotilla incident, replete with accusations of massacres and genocide. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) made no effort to cover up the real point, namely, the rejection of Israel’s right to exist and the concomitant right to defend itself. Speaking on behalf of the OIC, Pakistan called for relief from “the yoke of Israeli occupation for the last six decades.” Another 30 speakers, both states and non-governmental organizations, are scheduled for Wednesday.
The OIC, Sudan and “Palestine” have now tabled a resolution for the HRC under an agenda item supposedly about “organizational and procedural matters.” A few hours ago the U.S. sent out signals that it will agree to their initiative if it is aligned with the Security Council statement. The vote, breaking more procedural rules, is expected to occur as early as tomorrow.
The Security Council Presidential statement paints the loss of life which occurred entirely in the framework designed by its Arab and OIC sponsors. All the civilians who participated in the flotilla are cast as humanitarians – including the armed thugs caught on video-tape brutally attacking Israeli soldiers. Gaza is made out to be a humanitarian problem arising in a vacuum.
There is no mention of its government’s dedication to Israel’s annihilation, no mention of the smuggling of arms into Gaza, and no mention of the use of such arms against Israelis. Consequently, according to the Security Council there appears to be no justification for Israel’s interest in the ship’s cargo or its legal blockade of an entity with which it is at war. In fact, the Presidential statement does not mention Hamas at all.
Instead, the Security Council calls for an “impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.” That’s code language for a repeat of the UN-sponsored investigation of the 2009 Gaza war. The investigation in that case produced the widely-discredited, but politically toxic, Goldstone Report.
It was headed by the former South African judge, Richard Goldstone, later exposed as an appointee of the apartheid regime who sentenced many black defendants tried under apartheid laws to death. It may turn out that the investigation in this instance is handed off to 9/11 conspiracy enthusiast and current UN special investigator on Israel, Richard Falk, who issued a statement yesterday in support of more “urgent action.”
The Obama administration chose to join the HRC despite the fact that the HRC’s reputation preceded it: the HRC has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 states in the world combined. Having made its bed with the Council, however, the Obama administration is now lying in it.
The U.S. statement during today’s debate, delivered by American ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahue, says “the United States remains deeply concerned by the suffering of civilians in Gaza.” It expresses no concern about the suffering of Israeli civilians, paying the price for weapons smuggled into Gaza including by sea.
The policy shift by the Obama administration away from protecting Israel from UN hordes was also in evidence last Friday at the close of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). With the support of the President, that Conference adopted conclusions singling out Israel though Israel is not a party or subject to the treaty.
The agreed NPT document called for an international conference intended to force Israel to give up its (undeclared) nuclear deterrence capabilities without linking it to the realization of the country’s national security needs. And the United States promised to facilitate the 2012 meeting. By contrast, the Conference conclusions made no reference to Iran, which is a party to the treaty and in violation of its provisions.
In a formal statement delivered at Friday’s closing session, Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, said: “The Final Document this Conference adopted today advances President Obama’s vision.” She called it a “forward-looking and balanced action plan” and described negotiations as resulting in “a thorough review and constructive outcome.”
At the meeting that was to have taken place today between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Netanyahu was reported to have hoped for assurances from the President that he would not advance another UN-driven onslaught against Israel. In view of the administration’s willingness to participate in just such events days later, a positive response – and improvement in the Obama administration’s relations with Israel – is even more unlikely.
Anne Bayefsky is a Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute and Director, Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.
Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her on Twitter @AnneBayefsky.