A MORAL victory for Palestinians? Most definitely. And, it cannot be denied that it is a symbolic win for them as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted to adopt UNSC Resolution 2334 recently, which states unequivocally that the Israeli settlements in “Palestine territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem” are a “flagrant violation” of international law. It urges, too, that Israel abides by the rules of the Geneva Convention, which makes land grabs by occupying powers illegal. Of importance to note, Resolution 2334 recognises East Jerusalem as being part of the Palestinian territory. Unfortunately, this resolution was adopted under Chapter VI, making it non-binding. It is, to all intents and purposes, toothless because Chapter VI means that the resolution is not accompanied by enforcement mechanisms.
Nevertheless, how was this possible? The Obama administration, on its way out, wants to make a difference and in abstaining, allowed for the resolution to pass. Malaysia played a part in ensuring that the text of 2334 was put to the vote — together with New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela — after Egypt withdrew its draft following a call from President-elect Donald Trump. And, what of Trump’s incoming administration? The president-elect has proclaimed that the United States should have vetoed 2334 as it has done in the past for all anti-Israeli resolutions. So far, he has taken to insulting the UN and promised that things there will change when he steps into office on Jan 20. As for Israel, as sure as day comes after night, it will duly ignore the resolution and proceed apace with more settlements. It has already threatened to do so. It has, too, begun withholding funds to the UN and generally throwing diplomatic tantrums.
More significantly is the support of the other four permanent members: China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom. Today, Palestine is a “non-member observer state” of the UN, which effectively is a “de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine”, a status won with the support of all major powers except the US and Canada. It was a diplomatic setback for Israel and its sponsoring power, the US. Resolution 2334, therefore, is the latest setback for Israel and its sponsor, and may signal the snowballing of the support for a solution to the humanitarian problem in Palestine on the diplomatic front.
A solution to the Palestinian problem is urgently needed given the ever-expanding Israeli occupation. Gaza is being held captive, deprived of basic amenities and continually bombed, its population terrorised. To call it a genocide is no exaggeration. Diplomatic victory at the UN is indeed a matter for rejoicing, but until such time as Tel Aviv can be brought to heel, the reality on the ground may yet overtake events. Will the world sit by and allow Israel’s war of attrition and regular bouts of violence to be the solution? Surely, neither the Holocaust nor the notion of the “Promised Land” is reason enough to justify this inhumanity? The sovereign state of Palestine must come to pass now, and not tomorrow.