This December 23rd is the fourth anniversary of the infamous United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which declares that “the establishment of settlements by Israel in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” The Obama-Biden administration broke with the longstanding practice of both Democratic and Republican administrations to protect Israel from one-sided, anti-Israel United Nations resolutions when it refused to veto Resolution 2334 and abstained instead. Biden was reportedly involved behind the scenes in pushing the resolution forward for approval, including purportedly pressuring Ukraine to vote for the resolution rather than abstain. Biden has not expressed any regret since then for his participation in the Obama-Biden administration’s decision to sell out Israel.
Resolution 2334 demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” Resolution 2334 also calls on all nations “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” According to the resolution, “East Jerusalem” (including the Western Wall in the Old City) is specifically considered a part of the so-called Palestinian “territories occupied since 1967” that are supposed to be off limits for any nation’s dealings involving Israelis. When it comes to the resolution’s call to prevent “acts of terror” and “to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric,” the resolution refers elliptically to “both parties.”
As a 2017 Harvard Law Review article noted, “the resolution’s legal language vindicates the Palestinian story of dispossession and could facilitate prosecutions of Israeli officials at the ICC [International Criminal Court].” The article went on to say that “2334’s legal rhetoric entrenches the PA’s [Palestinian Authority] maximalism.”
Resolution 2334 remains in effect to this day. However, despite what the resolution’s supporters continuously assert, it is not legally binding under the UN Charter because it was not passed under the provisions of Chapter VII of the Charter. The resolution is not self-enforcing and would require a further resolution to impose sanctions or other punitive measures, which the Trump administration would surely have vetoed.
The question now is whether Joe Biden as president will return to the Obama-Biden administration’s support of the anti-Israel resolution and its distancing from our closest ally in the Middle East. The answer is most likely yes, despite Biden’s claims of unwavering support for Israel’s security. Biden, his Secretary of State-designate Tony Blinken and incoming chief of staff Ron Klain are adamantly opposed to Israel’s settlement activities.
The left-wing J Street group endorsed Biden for president. J Street’s endorsement stated that “Biden has long championed many of J Street’s most important priorities.” J Street had previously supported the anti-Israel Security Council Resolution 2334, which it called “the benchmark set by the international community.” J Street praised the Obama-Biden administration’s decision to abstain rather than veto the resolution. For his part, Joe Biden said that he was “honored to have earned J Street’s first-ever presidential endorsement.” With Joe Biden declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, J Street intends to cash in on its endorsement.
There will be intense pressure on Biden from the so-called “international community” and the Democrat progressive base in the United States to go along with even stronger Security Council resolutions against Israel, including international economic sanctions to punish Israel for continuing its settlement policies or annexing any portion of the West Bank. The pressure will be too strong for globalist Joe Biden to resist. A Palestinian journalist wrote that “it is not unreasonable to expect the new administration to implement Resolution 2334 immediately.”
Biden will also be under pressure from America’s European allies to reverse the Trump administration’s punitive actions against the kangaroo International Criminal Court, which declared last year that it would launch “a full investigation” into alleged war crimes committed in Palestinian territories by Israeli forces. The ICC is also undertaking a phony war crimes probe into U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan, which resulted in actions taken by the Trump administration against ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and another senior court official.
“The International Criminal Court is facing persistent external challenges and the European Union stands firm against all attempts to undermine the international system of criminal justice by hindering the work of its core institutions,” Peter Stano, spokesman for EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell, told reporters. “We are committed to strengthen our support to the ICC because this is key factor in fighting against impunity. We are standing by the ICC and we are not happy to see steps which are going against the activities of the ICC.”
Biden’s reverence for multilateral institutions and his eagerness to please our European allies make it likely that he will buckle.
Joe Biden’s choice to serve as his Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, has said that the Biden administration would continue to support Israel and stand up for the Jewish State at the United Nations. Biden himself has said that he would not use the continued provision of U.S. military aid as leverage to pressure Israel on policy issues, including potential Israeli annexation of portions of the West Bank. Biden has also said that he opposes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS).
That’s certainly good news for Israeli officials to hear, if true. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. For example, Biden could easily adhere to his pledge to oppose BDS when it comes to dealings with businesses located within pre-1967 Israel, while supporting international economic sanctions against business entities and individuals involved with any Israeli enterprise located in what the UN defines as occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. This distinction would be consistent with the distinction explicitly set forth in Resolution 2334.
“The incoming administration and Congress should make absolutely clear that US taxpayer dollars should not and will not be allowed to support programs and institutions in the settlements,” the president of the Biden-endorsing J Street said in a statement. “And they should reverse the harmful and reductive new decision to designate all forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel or the occupied territories as inherently ‘antisemitic.’”
Sooner or later, Joe Biden’s impulse to go along to get along and satisfy the “international community” as well as the Democratic Party’s progressive base will clash with his professed support for Israel. Sadly, the latter will likely give way and Biden will acquiesce, for example, if another resolution comes up for a vote in the UN Security Council to enforce Resolution 2334’s prohibition of Israeli settlements. Such enforcement measures could well include international economic sanctions if the Palestinians’ many friends in the UN, including the cowardly Western Europeans, say they are necessary.
There is certainly nothing to indicate in the long foreign diplomacy record of Biden’s choice to serve as his administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, that she will unswervingly stand up for Israel in the mold of Ambassadors Kelly Craft, Nikki Haley and Jeane Kirkpatrick.