Obama showed grit on UN vote

Neil Snarr - Contributing Columnist

Grit may be defined as, “perseverance and passion for long term goals” and I would argue that President Obama’s recent decision to let pass a vote critical of Israel in the United National Security Council is justified — a case of grit.

Israel was targeted because of its illegal occupation of Palestinian Territories since 1967. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted 14-0 on December 23rd in support of the resolution with one abstention – the US. The UNSC ‘has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security.’ The five permanent members of the UNSC are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. These members have veto power over any issue on which they vote and, subsequently, one no vote kills any resolution and an abstention does not affect the outcome.

By abstaining, the US permitted the resolution to carry. The other members of the Security Council, called non-permanent members, are appointed for two years. The non-permanent members that sponsored this resolution were Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela.

The resolution in and of itself has no power except that in this case it could lead to other action such as taking the issue to the International Criminal Court (ICC). That body has initiated a preliminary investigation of the settlement issue and this UNSC action may prompt it to proceed to a full-scale investigation.

The issues of land ownership and confiscation started back in 1947 when the UN stepped into the question of the future of Palestine and decided to divide the land among Palestinians and Jews. At that time the percentage of Jews in the land was significantly less than Palestinians, yet the partitioning resulted in Jews receiving most of the land.

Since then, Israel has taken additional Palestinian land and the percentage that is currently under Palestinian control is approximately ten percent. By failing to veto this resolution, the Obama administration has condemned the land grabbing that Israel has practiced, and the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands.

Because of this action by Obama, Prime Minster Netanyahu has accused the US president of abandoning Israel. The two heads of state have not seen eye to eye on many issues and Netanyahu’s actions and words have been incredibly harsh.

A fair analysis of Obama’s treatment of Israel during these eight years of his presidency does not support the Israeli’s Prime Minister’s statements on Obama’s treatment of Israel. Just what the outcome of this action will be is difficult to determine, but it has already produced the clearest discussion of the issues to date in the media.

It seems clear to me that Obama is on the right side of history and is acting to save Israel from its own policies – an opinion recently expressed in the New York Times, a newspaper that rarely criticizes Israel. It is also an opinion shared by many in Israel and the US State Department.

Wilmington resident Neil Snarr is emeritus professor of sociology of Wilmington College.

Neil Snarr

Contributing Columnist

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