Israel finds few allies at UNGA 70
Governments from around the world had their say at the speaker’s podium of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) general debate held in New York from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3. The Jewish and Israeli communities have stakes in many of the issues addressed by the speakers, including the Iran nuclear deal, the question of the Palestinians, and overall stability in the Middle East region.
Israel and the general Jewish community found barely an ally among the nations present at the UN. Many countries followed a script of support for the Iran nuclear deal, denunciation of the State of Israel for supposed mistreatment of Palestinians, and near total ignorance of the terror inflicted on those in the State of Israel simply seeking to live. The only variable actually present in the speeches by respective governments was the level of verbal vitriol. Not all states were openly accusatory like Lebanon, some, such as Indonesia, implied their sentiments.
Tammam Salam, prime minister of Lebanon, accused the State of Israel of “barbarism of colonization…which seeks to hide under a modern and democratic cloak.” He did not, nor did anyone else, note that, in fact, the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” in which “colonization” supposedly takes place were never “seized” by Israel. Israel lawfully retook what was seized from it during previous military excursions by Palestinian and Arab groups.
On the issue of the Iran deal many nations expressed their scripted support. Walid Al-Moualem, deputy prime minister of Syria, congratulated Iran on attaining “victory” in its aspirations for nuclear energy, and Salam said that he hoped that the agreement opened a “new page of international relations” for the world.
An interesting second side to the issue emerged when multiple Arab nations denounced Iran for its interference in their internal affairs. Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, was perhaps the most direct in this regard, stating that Iran is “unwelcome in Bahrain.” Al Khalifa took his criticism of Iran to an interesting point when he asserted that the Iran nuclear deal “does not touch on the real problems” of Iran in the region, including Iran’s support for terror and weapons smuggling in support of various insurgent groups throughout the region. Bahrain is an almost ally of Israel, however, as al Khalifa spoke against the supposed “illegal and inhuman acts against the al-Aqsa mosque” carried out by the Israelis—an assertion that has little basis in facts. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted, it is the Palestinian youths who bring pipe bombs to the grounds of the mosque who assault the compound as Israel is so accused. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, admitted to altering the “status quo” of the Temple Mount compound, including the al-Aqsa mosque, in his address to UNGA on Sept. 30.
Although the United Arab Emirates representative, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, claimed that the Palestinian issue is the “core of the conflict in the [Middle East] region,” other issues include the civil war in Syria. Still, addressing the war provided yet another opportunity for avoiding the issue, and instead, alternately blaming and attacking Israel. Al-Moualem claimed that Israel attacks Syria and arms and helps terrorists, and a member of the Iranian mission to the UN took the floor on Oct. 1 to make the wild claim that Israel supports “elements of ISIS [Islamic State terror group] in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
Netanyahu discussed the “obsessive Israel bashing” that plagues the UN in his address to the Assembly. As he noted, the previous session passed 20 resolutions against the Israelis and only 1 resolution against the Syrians on account of the Syrian civil war, although almost half a million Syrians have died in the past several years. Most nations are historically united in an idealistic front against Israel, and this front continued at UNGA’s general debate.
The front barely excludes the United States, who remains committed, in theory, to the security of the State of Israel. The United States was one of eight countries who voted against the symbolic UN resolution to raise the flag of Palestine at UN Headquarters, which passed on Sept. 10 and was carried out on Sept. 30. The other seven nations (excluding Israel itself, who voted against the measure) may prove an interesting group of allies for the State of Israel, including Australia, Canada, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, and Tuvalu. The outcome of the membership of the group of Israeli allies after the general debate remains to be seen.
Caleb R. Newton is a global affairs analyst and pre-law student living in Central Florida. Find him at the Times of Israel, Dissecting Society, and Global News Breakdown. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.