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UN Security Council Resolution on Palestine Defeated by 1 Vote, Fortunately

On 30 December 2014, the UN Security Council resolution on Palestine was defeated. The resolution was put forth by Jordan, on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, de facto leader of the Palestinian Authority. It would have mandated a peace agreement in Israel-Palestine within a year and an end to Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestinian territories by the end of 2017.

  • 8 countries voted yes, including France, China, and Russia.
  • 5 abstained, including the UK.
  • 2 voted against, the US and Australia.
  • The resolution lost by 1 vote (although, as a permanent member of the Security Council, the US alone could have vetoed it and it still would have been defeated).

Although many advocates for Palestinian human rights may be depressed, this loss is, strangely, in many ways a fortunate development. Leading Palestinian-American intellectual and Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah is glad to hear the news.

On 18 December, Abunimah published an article convincingly arguing that the resolution would be a step backward, away from Palestinian liberation: “Why I want Obama to veto Abbas’ UN resolution on Palestine.” In it, he writes (emphases mine):

Here’s why I hope that one of the permanent members – almost certainly it will be the Obama administration – vetoes this terrible resolution.

I evaluate any steps related to Palestine through a simple and consistent lens: does this measure take us closer to the fulfillment of Palestinian rights, all Palestinian rights?

These rights are set out most succinctly in the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS):

  • an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land during and since 1967;
  • an end to Israel’s institutionalized racism against Palestinians in present-day Israel (the areas on which Israel was established in 1948); and
  • the return of Palestinian refugees to their land and homes.

I believe in a positive vision of a Palestine whole and free, where all people live in a decolonized and reunified territory without discrimination based on religion or ethnicity and without sectarian territorial partition.

This is why I have consistently opposed steps to “recognize” the so-called “State of Palestine.”

Those “recognition” initiatives are an effort to undo the death of the “two-state solution” and rescue Israel as a racist Jewish state, as Joseph Massad explained in an essential article for The Electronic Intifada. …

This resolution tries to do exactly the same thing, except in a more legally binding and therefore dangerous manner. It makes the claim that “a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-state solution.”

It insists that the entire question of Palestine be reduced to the question of the 1967 occupation and that merely ending this occupation would effectively end all Palestinian claims.

The resolution uses vague, deceptive and in some places outright dishonest language that would enshrine in international law the “liberal” Zionist two-state solution and deal a devastating blow to Palestinian rights, particularly the right of return for refugees.

The places it speaks about “rights” relate to the Palestinian “right to self-determination” – a vague formula which has come to mean in effect a bantustan state and no more.

It also states the “right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders” – meaning in effect that it recognizes Israel’s “right” to be a racist state.


  • failing to guarantee the Palestinian right of return, yet alone the end of apartheid in Israel,
  • effectively being “pro-settler and pro-settlement,”
  • insisting that Israeli occupation forces must be replaced by “a third-party presence” (likely the US), and
  • codifying the “terrifying ‘security’ apparatus – a police (non)state that collaborates with the Israeli occupation to suppress Palestinians” – built “under the dictatorial leadership of Abbas,”

the resolution very well would have been a hindrance to the movement for true Palestinian liberation.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the “draft resolution contains massive concessions” and violates Palestinians’ “non-negotiable rights.” “This blueprint gives the occupation more legitimacy than it had ever dreamed of,” Zuhri insisted.

As Abunimah eloquently avers,

The vision this Abbas-backed resolution puts forward is the same old prison for Palestinians masquerading as “self-determination” and “statehood” that Palestinians have resisted and rejected for decades.

The fact that Israel opposes the resolution should not fool anyone. This is because, as Massad explained, the current Israeli government prefers forcible annexation of all the land to the step-by-step “liberal” Zionist approach that this resolution embodies.

But in the end the result is the same: Israel gets the settlements and the land and gets to remain a racist state while Palestinians surrender their rights.

We are now in the bizarre position where the most likely course to save Palestinians from this disaster is an American veto.

For once, we can be happy about a US Security Council veto.

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