Beginning in 1977, the United Nations has observed the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” every year on November 29th. This is the date in 1947 when the UN General Assembly approved its partition resolution envisaging the establishment of two states – an independent state of Palestine and an independent Jewish state of Israel. The Palestinians and their surrounding Arab neighbors rejected the original two-state solution with their usual response – violence. The creators of the Jewish state, on the other hand, were willing to accept the partition compromise. Israel subsequently offered the Palestinians a succession of opportunities for their own state, which the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly rejected. Nevertheless, the Palestinians, with a lot of help from their friends, have managed to turn the United Nations into their propaganda arm. The highlight every year is the UN’s treatment of the November 29th anniversary of its own original two-state General Assembly partition resolution as, to quote former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, a “day of mourning and a day of grief.” To assuage its grief, the UN General Assembly passes annually a series of blatantly one-sided anti-Israel resolutions, which have deliberately overlooked decades of Palestinian terrorism aimed at killing civilians.
Fiery anti-Israel speeches precede the votes. The UN-sponsored pro-Palestinian forum known as the UN Committee for the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People gets things started at least a day in advance. This year, not content with leaving it to the Palestinians’ friends among the member states to make their case, the committee invited Marc Lamont Hill, a CNN commentator, to the anti-Israel hatefest. CNN called Marc Lamont Hill “one of the leading intellectual voices in the country.” This “intellectual” advocated the use of violence if necessary as a legitimate form of “resistance.” He supported the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel and the so-called “right of return.” He voiced the words that Palestinians have regularly used to call for the end of the Jewish state: “a free Palestine from the river to the sea.” When criticized afterwards for using dog-whistle language appealing to the anti-Semitic destroy Israel crowd, Hill did not apologize. He argued that the “river to sea” expression is “a phrase used by many factions, ideologies, movements, and politicians. My reference to ‘river to the sea’ was not a call to destroy anything or anyone. It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza.” CNN was not buying Hill’s lame explanation, nor should anyone else who knows anything about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most likely responding to public backlash than acting on principle, CNN announced that “Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN.”
The good news this year is that for the first time the UN member states will not just be asked to vote on the usual anti-Israel resolutions to mark the anniversary of the General Assembly partition resolution. As a result of an initiative promoted by the Trump administration, they will also have to decide whether to approve a separate draft resolution condemning Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence that put “civilians at risk.” The draft resolution also demands that “Hamas cease all provocative actions and violent activity.” The administration, led by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, has reportedly been negotiating the final text of the resolution with other member states, which may require some tinkering while leaving the core condemnation of Hamas intact. There is a particular focus on obtaining European Union support. Hamas is on the 28-member EU bloc’s terrorism blacklist, which the European Court of Justice has upheld.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, who has been working with Ambassador Haley on the anti-Hamas resolution, is cautiously optimistic that there will be enough votes to approve it by majority vote. That vote could occur by this Monday. However, even if the resolution does not pass this time, Ambassador Danon considers the process itself, forcing the member states to take a stand on Hamas terrorism, a win-win. “The fact that now people are talking about Hamas, and that the Palestinian Authority – we all know about its relations with Hamas – is sweating to explain why they are suddenly in favor of Hamas, means we have already won,” he said.
Past attempts by Nikki Haley to have the UN Security Council and General Assembly condemn Hamas violence have been thwarted by procedural obstacles invoked by the Palestinians’ enablers. This time, however, a straight up-and-down vote approving the U.S. sponsored draft resolution by majority vote is a distinct possibility, especially if the European nations do not weasel out of doing the right thing. Hamas is apparently getting nervous that it may no longer be able to count on the UN entirely for kid-glove treatment. Thus, it has suddenly decided to launch a diplomatic offensive at the UN and invoke “international law” to justify its campaign of terrorism against civilians.
Like the criminal who murdered his parents and then pleads for mercy on the grounds that he is now an orphan, Hamas is reported to have sent a letter to the UN General Assembly President, Maria Fernanda Spinosa, condemning the U.S. initiative. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, wrote in his letter that “We reiterate the right of our people to defend themselves and to resist the occupation, by all available means, including armed resistance, guaranteed by the international law.” He added that Hamas would “greatly count on the members of the UN General Assembly [to] stand by international legitimacy in support for the right of peoples to defend themselves and thwart these aggressive American endeavors.”
According to the twisted logic of the terrorist Hamas leadership, “the right of peoples to defend themselves” includes the launch of thousands of rockets aimed deliberately at civilian populations in Israel and the use of Palestinian women and children as human shields. In response to the Hamas letter, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, vowed that “Israel and the United States will continue to mobilize the countries of the world into a united front against the terrorism that Hamas engages in on behalf of Iran.”
Hamas forcibly took control of Gaza in 2007 from Fatah, the party loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah had exercised control in Gaza from the completion of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 until Fatah’s ejection in 2007. Fast forward to 2018. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have still not reconciled, undermining any reasonable claim of Palestinian readiness for genuine statehood. Abbas has demanded that Hamas give up its weapons as a condition for reconciliation. “I won’t accept the reproduction of the Hezbollah experience in Lebanon” in Gaza, Abbas said last year. He has also used economic leverage to squeeze Hamas, at the expense of the Gazan people.
Despite Abbas’s in-fighting with Hamas for control over Gaza and any future Palestinian state, he has hypocritically decided to show solidarity with Hamas at the United Nations. His Palestinian Authority has conducted its own campaign against the proposed General Assembly resolution condemning Hamas’ violence. This hypocrisy puts a lie to any notion that Abbas has any interest in compromising to negotiate a workable two-state solution under which Israel and an independent Palestinian state can live side by side securely in peace.
During the opening debate in the General Assembly on the anti-Israel resolutions, Israeli Ambassador Danon turned to the Palestinians and set out three conditions that would lead to a new era in the region: “Recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people; stop the terrorist payments and incitements; and choose a leadership that is committed to the Palestinian people. Only when these conditions materialize can we continue forward in the region.”
Abbas has no intention of meeting any of these reasonable conditions for a durable peace. He would rather use Hamas to violently provoke an Israeli military response that Abbas can then exploit at the United Nations for propaganda purposes, portraying the Palestinians as innocent victims of a brutal occupying power. Too often, the UN has played by Abbas’s rules. Hopefully, Nikki Haley will succeed in taking an important step forward to change those rules.