Thursday, November 29, the 193-nation United Nations General Assembly granted de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine.
The symbolic victory for Palestine was accomplished despite the opposition of the United States and Israel, along with a small contingency of allies who voted against elevating the Palestinian Authority's observer status at the United Nations to "nonmember state" from "entity.”
At the meeting, 138 nations voted in favor of the measure, nine opposed it, with 41 abstaining. Notably, the vote was held on the 65th anniversary of the adoption of UN resolution 181 that divided Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.
Swiss Info reports “thousands of flag-waving Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip set off fireworks and danced in the streets to celebrate the vote.”
Not everyone was in the mood to celebrate, however.
In a statement, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) simultaneously reminded the world of his own fierce fidelity to Israel, as well as to remind the Palestinian Authority and Egypt (broker of the peace talks between Israel and Gaza) of their dependency on the largesse of the United States.
"This is a provocative unhealthy step that could undermine the peace process," Graham said.
At an appearance with Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Graham expressed concern that an elevated Palestine might seek redress of its grievances from the global government.
"If you make a petition to the International Criminal Court against the state of Israel ... that will put the peace process in a ditch and undermine any chance of a peaceful solution anytime soon and we will cut off funding," Graham said.
“I will not sit on the sidelines and use American dollars in a situation where the Palestinians make every IDF member a war criminal simply by defending the sovereignty of the state of Israel," he continued.
Finally, Graham warned that he would see to it that $935 million in foreign aid to the Palestinians would be withheld should they attempt to flex their new UN muscle to call Israel to answer charges of war crimes in the International Criminal Court.
The $935 million aid package to the Palestinians includes $495 million in 2012 that hasn’t been paid, as well as $440 million for Fiscal Year 2013.
Graham’s response reveals two critical flaws in the official U.S. response to the UN’s actions regarding the stature of a sovereign Palestinian state.
First, Graham and nearly every other U.S. politician proclaim themselves to be friends of Israel. The tone of the pro-Israel rhetoric is very patronizing and paternalistic, assuming that Israel needs the protection and patronage of the United States to remain free.
Is it not odd, also, that Congress would coalesce behind Israel and its right to protect its sovereign borders, yet authorize millions in foreign aid to be sent annually to most of the nations that surround it?
For example, Egypt receives nearly $1.5 billion in aid annually from the United States. Jordan receives over $800 million in financial aid from the American treasury.
Gaza and the West Bank receive $575 million annually thanks to the largesse of the American taxpayer. Ironically, the enemy of our purported ally stands in the same U.S. welfare line as Israel herself.
The second problem with Graham’s rigid anti-Palestinian posture is that it fails to address the larger constitutional problem: the source of the UN’s authority and the participation of the United States in an international body whose ultimate end is the obliteration of borders and the consolidation of all legislative, executive, and judicial power from the otherwise sovereign nations on earth.
Last September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the Palestinian Authority’s intent to seek official recognition of statehood by the United Nations.
Predictably, the United States immediately responded that it would veto any Security Council resolution accepting Palestine’s application for recognition. The exercise of the veto would prevent the proposal from being placed before the 193-member General Assembly for the needed two-thirds vote.
Neither the United States nor its allies, however, have ever addressed the fact that the UN created this conflict by passing the Partition Plan in 1947. Could the silence on this issue be evidence of the belief by the rulers of these nations that they intend to support the UN and assist in its drive to rid the world of sovereignty?
It cannot be too often repeated that the UN is the primary cause of the contention in the Middle East. Neoconservatives in the U.S. government display the contradictory reality of their dual loyalties by annually supporting the UN agenda and by so often subjugating the sovereignty of the United States to the will of an unaccountable and unconstitutional international body. As Ron Paul once wrote:
The UN is a threat to our sovereignty — and as we are the main source of its income, it is a threat to our economic well-being. Increasingly over the past several years, we see the United Nations providing political and legal cover for the military aspirations of interventionists rather than serving as an international forum to preserve peace.
In his book, Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom, Paul correctly identifies the role played by the United Nations in not only the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but in its genesis, as well. "One of the first decisions made by the UN was when the UN General Assembly accepted the Security Council’s recommendation in 1947 to partition Palestine. Considering the lives lost and the money spent, it doesn’t say much for the UN’s peacekeeping efforts or our own foreign policy of the past sixty years," Paul writes.
These early decisions on the part of the world body, insists Dr. Paul, “turned a local and demographic issue into an international and highly politicized one.”
With this opinion of the United Nations and its despicable history of “peace-keeping,” it is no wonder that Paul would counsel the Palestinians “to avoid the United Nations.” After all, what benefit has the United States or any other nation derived from this ill-conceived and unconstitutional organization? Every country seeking membership in the UN must offer up on the internationalist altar a measure of sovereignty, as well as the right of citizens to hold elected representatives responsible for laws passed to govern them.
There is no safety to be found in allying oneself with the UN or relying on its goodwill to promote peace and prosperity. As Ron Paul explained:
UN membership and participation is no guarantee that sovereignty will be respected. We see what happens to UN members such as Iraq and Libya when those countries’ leaders fall out of favor with US administrations: under US and allied pressure a fig leaf resolution is adopted in the UN to facilitate devastating military intervention. When the UN gave NATO the green light to bomb Libya there was no genocide taking place. It was a purely preventative war. The result? Thousands dead, a destroyed country, and extremely dubious new leaders.
How many more will die in Israel and Palestine as a result of American insistence on the perpetuation of the UN's 1947 partition? Witness this story from Friday’s New York Times:
As the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinians’ status Thursday night, Israel took steps toward building housing in a controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, where Jewish settlements have long been seen as the death knell for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
After the General Assembly vote on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice called for resumption of peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
"The Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded," Rice said.
Sadly, Rice is right. As long as the United Nations is supported financially and philosophically by the federal government of the United States and is allowed to retain its center of operations on our shores, very little is likely ever to change for the better in the Middle East or elsewhere.
Photo of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressing UN General Assembly November 29: AP Images