Friday, December 24, 2010
[The following, by Vic Rosenthal, is crossposted from FresnoZionism.]
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday informed the US and EU of its intention to request a UN Security Council resolution that condemns construction in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem.
The announcement was made during separate meetings held by Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat with US Consul-General Daniel Rubenstein and EU representative to the Palestinian territories Christian Berger.
Erekat said that the PA was hoping that the resolution would condemn the construction as illegal and in violation of international law.
There are good arguments that the settlements are quite legal in international law. In any event, such a decision could not be made by a political body, like the Security Council. It would require an impartial court to consider the legal issues, which of course doesn't exist.
Maybe it is finally time for Israel to consider leaving the UN.
On the one hand, such an action would be applauded by her enemies as an admission that the state lacks legitimacy. So it's very unlikely.
On the other hand, the UN is dominated by non-democratic states. There is an automatic majority in the General Assembly for any anti-Israel resolution, and the UN actually has a 'division' set up to support the cause of the Palestinian Arabs. Here is a 2002 list of some of the ways the UN acts against Israel. It's only gotten worse since then.
In truth, the UN has lost its ability to perform its intended mission, which is to prevent conflict. It has been incapable of dealing with several high-profile genocides or stopping numerous wars. Can you think of one conflict situation in which UN intervention has actually helped? I can't.
UN agencies do perform useful functions in the area of health, disaster relief, coordination of various international standards, etc. But these could be done far more effectively and cheaply by independent agencies.
In recent years, UN efforts in the area of human rights have become politicized and controlled to a great extent by the violators of human rights. So resolutions are passed to protect 'human rights' in Gaza -- that is, to prevent Israel's legitimate self-defense against Hamas -- while real rights violations committed by the numerous dictatorships who control the UN are ignored.
The UN is not quite as directly confrontational to the US as it is to Israel, but this is because we provide the major portion of its funding. It is not a good deal. In 2009, the US contributed $598,292,101 to the regular budget (22% of the total), plus an additional amount for 'peacekeeping' operations, some of which have been going on since 1978. In 2010, the US budgeted over $2 billion for 'peacekeeping'!
One example of a peacekeeping operation is the UNIFIL in Lebanon. It failed to prevent Hizballah's attack which led to the 2006 war, and then failed to enforce UN resolution 1701, which forbade Hizballah to rearm. It did file protests regarding Israeli overflights of Lebanese territory.
UN Watch reports that near 3:00 AM today the General Assembly voted, over US opposition, to hold a "Durban III" conference on 'racism' in New York in September 2011, exactly one week after the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Like the first Durban conference, it's expected to be primarily an opportunity to bash Israel and the US.
What if the US were to leave? Probably the UN would quickly collapse into well-deserved irrelevance. And then collapse altogether. Think of the improved parking situation in lower Manhattan!
I don't think the UN, with its entrenched bureaucracy, can be fixed. What's really needed is a new international organization in which a member state's voting power depends in part on the number of people it democratically represents. So for example, Saudi Arabia, whose delegation represents one family, should have much less influence than Israel, a democracy of several million people.
There's not much chance of that, but I think it's time for Western democracies -- particularly the US -- to say that they've had enough, to withdraw from the UN and create an international organization with less lofty goals, but which will have a method of governance that takes into account the legitimacy due to democratic nations, and which doesn't espouse a radical pseudo-Marxist ideology which purports to favor the poor and oppressed, but which actually supports the worst dictators and murderers on the planet.