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February 2, 2017 7:44 am

When Will the UN Make the Palestinians Uphold Their Commitments?

avatar by Thane Rosenbaum

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The audience reacting to United Nations Security Council's Dec. 23 vote on Resolution 2334. Photo: UN Photo/Manuel Elias.

The audience reacting to United Nations Security Council’s Dec. 23 vote on Resolution 2334. Photo: UN Photo/Manuel Elias.

Welcome to Israel’s world of ethereal expectations — the standard of moral perfection to which it is routinely held, and the dizzying array of double standards to which it is casually subjected.

This is all the more tragically absurd when compared with the zero standards by which the world judges the Palestinians. When it comes to holding Palestinians accountable for their misdeeds or noncompliance, the international community merely shrugs and offers them the proverbial “Palestinian pass.”

Take, for instance, the miserably misguided UN Security Council Resolution 2334. Setting aside its many contradictions from UN Security Council 242, which for decades stood as the basis upon which the exchange of land for peace would end the Middle East conflict, this new resolution directly indicts Israeli settlements as a “major obstacle” to the two-state solution. The resolution claims that these settlements have “no legal validity,” but it also has something to say about terrorism and violence.

Resolution 2334 calls for “immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation.” Unfortunately, it castigates no particular party, as if terrorism is an Israeli preoccupation — as if Israeli children are being taught that Palestinian children are pigs and monkeys, instead of the other way around. The resolution specifically condemns Israel for its settlements; Palestinians, however, are blamed for nothing in particular. If one didn’t know better, or simply wished to remain in an alternate reality, he might believe that terrorism is Israel’s fault, too.

No one should be surprised by this omission of responsibility. When it comes to the Palestinians, the international community always looks the other way. Even Resolution 242 instilled a legacy of focusing on Israeli withdrawal from territories, and treading more gently on what is expected of Arabs in return.  Specifically, under Resolution 242, Israel must withdraw from territories, but there must also be a “termination of all claims or states of belligerency,” mutual recognition, and “the right to live in peace within secure boundaries.”

Whenever someone self-righteously points to UN resolutions and expresses moral outrage that Israel still “occupies” the West Bank, he is, unwittingly at best, and maliciously at worst, applying obligations against Israel unilaterally — while ignoring the mutually reinforcing obligations that these UN resolutions imposed on the Arab world.

Where is the Palestinian “termination of all claims”? Surely the “right of return,” or the shrill, genocidal chanting of “from the river to the sea,” is not suggestive of a people who understand that Israel is under no duty to surrender any land unless Palestinians are faithful to the terms that apply to them.

Similarly, where is the mutual recognition of Israel in the PLO and Hamas charters? A determination to kill all Jews is not the kind of good faith that these resolutions contemplated. And, finally, when Israeli civilians are tormented by terrorism, and rockets from Gaza, how exactly is Israel’s “right to live in peace within secure boundaries” being honored?

It’s not. And yet the world still calls for Israeli withdrawal. The hard gaze is always on the land; meanwhile, the joint exchange for peace, which is no less of an essential requirement, is treated as an illusory promise that no Palestinian is ever obligated to fulfill.

The day after passage of Resolution 2334, the Palestinian Authority celebrated the news with a cartoon on its Facebook page showing a bloody knife thrust into a map of Israel.

Clearly, ending violence and incitement is not part of the Palestinian agenda. Indeed, through Palestinian eyes, Resolution 2334 was interpreted not as imposing an affirmative obligation on the Palestinians, but rather granting them an additional license to kill — as if they required any further motivation.

This fashionable excusing of Palestinian terrorism is borderline racism, ascribing barbarism to an entire population. The world seems to be saying: Palestinians can’t possibly end the violence.They have no impulse control.  The rules of civilization do not apply to them.

Imagine saying this about any other people: that they must be permitted to stab at will, to mow down civilians in their cars. Holding them accountable is pointless and unnecessary.

What should we make of this infantilizing of Palestinians? Perhaps it’s just a form of forgivable antisemitism taken to new levels of ingenuity.

Instead of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, perhaps the Trump administration should undertake a more novel strategy: Place the Palestinians on notice that terrorism is as much an impediment to peace as are settlements, and that foreign aid, and America’s goodwill in the peace process, will depend on the Palestinians honoring their obligations.

There are meaningful gestures for Israel to make, as well. But Palestinians have proven over and over again that their lust of violence is much stronger than their taste for nation building.

Thane Rosenbaum is an author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, an essayist and a Distinguished Fellow at NYU School of Law where he directs the Forum on Law, Culture & Society. His most recent book is the novel, “How Sweet It Is!”

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  • Holy Shirt

    The writer asks “When will the UN demand ‘Palestinian’ compliance?” Not until Elephants Fly, Pork is Halal, Hillary is Truthful and Obama is Zionist.

  • StanleyTee

    “hate speach (sic)” – whatever that is?? What on earth are you on about? You are clearly not thinking rationally.

  • Abbas, a man completing his tenth year of a four year term, has never recognized Israel’s right to exist

  • I am somewhat surprised and amazed at all the commotion regarding the U.N resolution 2334 that is non-binding with no legal standing, which condemns Jewish Communities and Settlements in the West Bank aka Judea and Samaria. It should be noted Israel regained land and rebuilt communities previously taken from it illegally via the Defensive War of 1967 when it had to defend itself from an unprovoked attack from Jordan. If the U.N voted a resolution declaring the Vatican as Muslim territory, is anyone going to abide by it?

    According to my research, the U.N. Charter only provides for the non-binding recommendation(s) of a Resolution. In fact, the U.N. has absolutely no legal standing or power to enforce any Resolution(s). Furthermore, it cannot be ignored the U.N. has recommended hundreds of non-binding Resolutions against Israel with no legal, or factual standing to support said Resolutions. There is also the U.N. Article 51 which provides for a country right for defense against attack.

    Israel is on solid legal and historical ground as far as its’ territorial boundaries west of the Jordan River. In fact, history proves Israel has both a legal and historical claim for a lot of land held by Jordan.

    The World at large has for thousands of years wrongfully persecuted the Jews, confiscated and stole their assets including land. The world at large will try and push us around if we let them. It is time to put an end to such unjustified and vile persecution.
    All the distortions of history up to and including modern day, by biased nations relying upon fictitious, deceptive, make-believe facts and wishful beliefs, must not be tolerated any more. While most of the biased world continues to unjustly assail Israel, the nation of Israel contributes to the world a substantial amount of advancement and technology in all fields, including medicine, energy, water desalination, IT, and much more.

    Today the Jewish State of Israel in The Land of Israel has the man-power and the resources to defend itself against most world powers. Thus, it is time for us Jews to become unified and stand up for ourselves as was done during the days of Moses, King David and King Solomon.

    We are supposed to be “a stubborn nation” (Am Kshey Oref). Stop trying to placate the world at large. It has not worked in the past it will not work now. Let us utilize our “stubborn” resolve with a strong backbone steeled with our unwavering faith. If we stand our ground without capitulations, we might encounter some obstacles and suffer some set-backs. But in the long run we will be stronger and the world at large will respect us more.

    We must overcome the “victim mentality” we have too easily accepted over thousands of years in the Diaspora. It is time for all Jews worldwide to raise our heads, and steel our resolve as a proud nation with proud people who stand for their rights.
    “A Unified Israel is a Strong Israel”

    YJ Draiman

  • Mark_NYC

    Mr. Rosenbaum’s comments apply not only to the international community but to many elements of the liberal population here in the U.S. (including Jewry) who continuously place demands on Israel while ignoring and giving a pass to Palestinians for their encouragement and incitement of terrorist action against Israelis and Jews. I am thinking in particular of the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton, as her Party’s nominee last year, prevented the Platform Committee for including outright anti-Israeli planks (one of the reasons I voted for her), but all too many individuals in the Party, including her own Vice-Presidential candidate, have exhibited hostility to Israel while making barely a whisper about the PLO’s incitement of murder against Jews. So we are left in the unfortunate position of having to hope that the Republican President Donald Trump, an unstable individual who many of us find repugnant, will have to implement policies that are supportive of Israel and demanding of the Palestinians. While the previous President Barack Obama, who many of us admired as an individual and for his intellect, carried out policies that were harmful to Israel but seemingly ignored or giving a pass to Palestinian behavior. Talk about cognitive dissonance. As a notorious tweeter likes to say, “So Sad!”

    • Latest news, Trump is climbing on the anti-settlement bandwagon

      More fake promises

      • StanleyTee

        Actually, no, Trump did not ‘climb on the anti-settlement bandwagon”. He specially did not say anything about construction in existing settlements, which drove Obama and his crowd nuts. He also did not say anything about actual construction of settlements elsewhere. He said that announcing construction was “not helpful”. Read the full statement, not CNN or the NYTs reporting on it.