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The United Nations and Israel

Speaking of the UN

October 4, 2002

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's statement this week that there is no double standard for those who violate UN resolutions is unfortunately inaccurate.

Fortunately, as one of the veteran members of the organization, Israel is sufficiently familiar with its rules and procedures, and has indeed lost no time abiding by the Security Council's resolution last week that called for the lifting of the siege the IDF had laid to Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound.

Unfortunately, in apparently seeking to soothe Arab wrath as Washington and London prepare to attack Iraq, Blair helped nurture one of the most manipulative anti-Israeli propaganda ploys, namely that in the Mideast conflict, Israel is the one who habitually violates UN resolutions.

The fact is that the most anti-Israeli UN resolutions are passed by its General Assembly, which comprises delegates from every country in the world and whose decisions are not binding. The UN's binding resolutions are those passed by the Security Council, which has only five permanent members.

Moreover, even in that forum most Israel-related resolutions are passed under the UN Charter's non-binding Chapter 6, while those passed in response to Iraq's behavior since 1991 were passed under the charter's Chapter 7, which deals with the settlement of conflicts that threaten international security.

These are not mere procedural formalities. Rather, they are a reflection of the fact that Israel's wars, whatever one thinks of their circumstances, have never made the international community perceive the Jewish state as a threat to world peace. If not for any other reason, that alone should make one let alone a sincere friend of Israel like Tony Blair refrain from comparing Israel's UN record with its enemies'.
Even more tellingly, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, so frequently bandied as evidence of Israel's ostensible ill will, actually testify to the contrary. Originating in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, these called for the Arab states to make peace with Israel in return for its withdrawal from territory captured during that war.

Since then, Israel has relinquished territories to Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian hands, only to see the greater Arab world's leaders remain formally at war with the Jewish state.

An evenhanded observer can only conclude that when it comes to Resolution 242 the central binding UN resolution it is Israel that has taken drastic measures to comply, while much of the Arab world stands in defiant violation.
It follows that the UN must show a willingness to confront the Arab bloc for its decades-long failure to abide by UN resolutions it prefers to ignore or distort.

For most honest Western observers, expecting this kind of fairness from the UN has become unreasonable over the years. That is not the case with Tony Blair, who has proven himself in the past more honorable and courageous than the average statesman.

In fact, if he really wants to arrive at a UN that avoids double standards, as he himself put it, then the British premier may want to contemplate a plan for the reinvention of the UN in the aftermath of a war in Iraq.

The major flaw of the UN is that it pretends that a democratic mechanism - one country, one vote - can sanitize the fact that most of the countries that are voting are themselves undemocratic. If freedom and democracy are to be the founts of legitimacy in the world, then votes among dictators cannot be treated as the pinnacle of international legitimacy.

For UN votes to become fully legitimate, either a distinction must be made between the voting power of democracies and dictatorships, or the democracies must band together to reflect their true power and legitimacy. Otherwise, those nations pursuing the cause of freedom and prosperity will have to make end-runs around the UN, as the United States may be forced to do concerning Iraq.

Blair seems to understand that with respect to Iraq, there is a difference between what must be done and what the UN, left to its own devices, would do. The same is true regarding what is called the Arab-Israeli conflict, but is more accurately seen as the Arab world's half-century-long quest to eliminate a member of the UN, the State of Israel.

For most of this period, the UN has been enlisted on the side of this illegal and immoral Arab quest. If Blair is looking for a real revolution to back, he would not seek to implement UN resolutions as the Arab world has distorted them, but as the UN Charter envisioned, namely to protect nations from the aggression of other states.

©2002 - Jerusalem Post

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