Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A UN Resolution on Jerusalem: Barack Obama’s poisoned Christmas gift to Donald Trump

This is not something that I have been paying much attention but it has been a bit of riddle why New Zealand which takes the position of Empire on abolutely EVERYTHING should co-sponsor a UN resolution on Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Why would Murray McCully who is quite happy to bribe Saudi headchoppers suddenly take a position of principle? Anything to do with the zionist PM John Key being out of the way?


Our until-recently PM, John Key was not only Jewish but also zionist. He would never hae taken any action against Israel unless directed by his Amerca superiors. When Israeli spies were uncovered in the midst of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake his reponse was to have them spirited out of the country

Of course the answer is that the NZ government is once again doing the Obama administration’s bidding and that perhaps it all has less to do with undermining Israel (although it is no secret that Obama and Netanyahu hate each other), but more than undermining Trump.

Like Alexander Mercouris, I am solidly anti-zionist and would normally greet anything that undermined Israel. However, I am not willing to suddenly see Obama and the NZ government in its entireity as any thing other than what they are.

It seems that we need to stop seeing things from a fixed ideological position and instead try to disentangle the geopolitics. Otherwise things start to get very complicated and confusing.

Therefore I recommend to you the article below by Alexander Mercouris from the Duran.

Trump could punish NZ over UN resolution
New Zealand may be punished by the incoming United States government for its position on Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, an international law professor says.
A placard in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Donald Trump had pressed for the US to use its veto to prevent a UN Ssecurity Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements from passing.A placard in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Donald Trump had pressed for the US to use its veto to prevent a UN Ssecurity Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements from passing. Photo: AFP

28 December, 2016

New Zealand co-sponsored and voted for a resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council this month, that called Israeli settlement building in occupied territories 'illegal' and demanded that it stop.

The resolution passed after the United States - which, as a permanent Security Council member, holds the power of veto - abstained from the vote.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already summoned and reprimanded the ambassadors of 10 of the countries that voted in favour, and has cancelled meetings with their foreign ministers - a freeze on relations that includes New Zealand.

Waikato University international law professor Al Gillespie said the incoming United States president Donald Trump was likely to be hostile as well.

Mr Trump had pressured for a veto of the resolution by the US and called the United Nations "sad" after the resolution passed.

"He's likely to remember the countries that voted for this resolution and did not support it the way that he wanted to go," Dr Gillespie said.

"He will have expected that other countries like New Zealand and Senegal would not have picked up the baton as they did. Whether he will forgive or forget that is a matter of debate."

But New Zealanders should be proud of the courage the government showed in co-sponsoring the resolution, he said.

"We've been on the Security Council for coming up to two years now, but it's only in the last few months that we've developed a really strong, independent voice.

"A lot of countries voted for us to be [on the Security Council] and to speak, as we have done, as an independent voice."

Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu's administration is insisting the United States orchestrated the passage of the resolution.

His diplomatic retaliations, which also included cancelling aid to countries that voted in favour, have raised concerns he is isolating Israel.

CNN analyst Oren Liebermann said Mr Netanyahu felt betrayed by President Barack Obama after the US chose not to use its power of veto.

Although the resolution was only a recommendation or guideline, it still set a legal precedent.

"It may take years for that precedent to be acted upon but Netanyahu and the Israeli government know it's been set."

This article from Haaretz focuses on New Zealand

Britain Pulled the Strings and Netanyahu Warned New Zealand It Was Declaring War: New Details on Israel's Battle Against the UN Vote

The British secretly worked the Palestinians and urged New Zealand to move ahead with the resolution, and a call from Netanyahu to Putin triggered a real drama at the UN HQ just one hour before the vote.


27 December, 2016


Last Friday, a few hours before the UN Security Council vote on the settlements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully. New Zealand, together with Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela, was leading the move to resubmit for a vote the resolution from which Egypt had backed down the day before.

A few hours earlier, a senior official in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem called New Zealand’s ambassador to Israel, Jonathan Curr, and warned that if New Zealand’s move came to a vote, Israel might close its embassy in Wellington in protest. Ambassador Curr noted this and reported it to his government, but when dawn came in New York Israel understood that things were still moving ahead.

Netanyahu’s phone call to McCully was almost his last attempt to prevent the vote, or at least to postpone it and buy a little time. Western diplomats say the conversation was harsh and very tense and Netanyahu let loose with sharp threats, perhaps unprecedented in relations between Israel and another Western country.

This is a scandalous decision. I’m asking that you not support it and not promote it,” Netanyahu told McCully, according to the Western diplomats, who asked to remain unnamed due to the sensitivity of the matter. “If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences. We’ll recall our ambassador to Jerusalem.” McCully refused to back down from the vote. “This resolution conforms to our policy and we will move it forward,” he told Netanyahu.

Just one month earlier, when McCully visited Israel and met with Netanyahu, he found the latter an entirely different man. Netanyahu was pleasant, friendly and overflowing with warmth. He showed McCully the famous PowerPoint presentation that he had shown in a round of background briefings for the media last summer. Laser pointer in hand, Netanyahu told McCully that Israel was expanding its foreign relations, breaking through in the region and making friends in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The Western diplomats said that McCully, who over the past two years had been consistently pushing the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the UN Security Council, spoke with Netanyahu about the resolution his country wanted to promote. It was a much softer and more moderate version than the motion that passed last Friday. New Zealand’s resolution did talk about freezing construction in the settlements, but also about freezing Palestinian steps in the UN and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and called for direct negotiations without preconditions.

Netanyahu rejected this outright. If it were up to him, the Palestinian issue would not have come up in the meeting at all. His message to McCully was similar to what he said endlessly in public over the past few weeks. The world doesn’t care too much about the Palestinian issue. The automatic majority against Israel in the UN is about to become a thing of the past. “The vote Friday proved differently and showed that Netanyahu’s assessment was wrong,” a Western diplomat said.

Discussions with Western and Israeli diplomats reveal many interesting details about some of what happened behind the scenes at UN headquarters in New York between Thursday afternoon, when Egypt announced it was backing down from the resolution on the settlements, and Friday morning, when New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela announced that they would continue to push for a vote.



Form the moment Egypt backed down on Thursday, the Western and Israeli diplomats say, New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela were pressured to move ahead anyway. The Palestinians were the first to exert pressure, but they were joined by some of the Gulf States and Britain. The Western diplomats said that the British encouraged New Zealand to continue pushing for a vote even without Egyptian support.

The British had become active regarding the resolution a few days earlier. The Israeli diplomats say that from information that reached the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, British legal figures and diplomats had been working directly with the Palestinians on the wording of the resolution even before it was distributed by Egypt the first time on Wednesday evening. According to the Israeli diplomats, the British did this secretly and without informing Israel

An editorial from Haaretz

With his destructive reaction, Netanyahu is shutting down channels for dialogue with countries that Israel needs now and in the future


A UN Resolution on Jerusalem: Barack Obama’s poisoned Christmas gift to Donald Trump

AlexanderMercouris
27 Deceber, 2016
UN Security Council Resolution 2334 - acquiesced in and quite probably engineered by the Obama administration - by reaffirming that Jerusalem is not Israel's capital and that east Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory - seems intended to tie Donald Trump's hands.
UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which has just passed the UN Security Council on a 14 to nil vote (the US abstaining) is being widely reported as US President Barack Obama’s parting shot at Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu.
Supposedly Obama reversed traditional US policy, whereby the US would have ‘protected’ Israel by vetoing a Resolution such as this, in order to spite Netanyahu whom he personally dislikes.

Israel’s furious response is allegedly the result of Netanyahu’s anger at Obama’s action.

It is true that Obama and Netanyahu dislike each other.  Netanyahu has made no attempt to conceal his dislike of Obama, and Obama all but admitted to his personal dislike of Netanyahu in the mammoth series of interviews he gave earlier this year to The Atlantic.  It is also scarcely a secret that Obama disapproves of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, and considers Netanyahu to be the primary obstacle to achieving Middle East peace.

I would add that Obama’s bad relations with Netanyahu are not just the product of policy differences.  A feature of Obama’s Presidency has been Obama’s inability to get on with any world leaders apart from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  Where Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President and Obama’s main geopolitical rival, excels at forging close personal relations with world leaders and in “telephone diplomacy”, Obama comes across as aloof and friendless, and not caring much about it.

There is no doubt that this factor of personal dislike between Obama and Netanyahu played a role in the passing of Resolution 2334, and in Israel’s reaction to it.  However it is not the whole story.

Firstly, it should be said that Resolution 2334 is unlikely to have come to the vote so quickly without the US quietly giving the green light to it, and making it known that it would not veto it.

As it happens when Resolution 2334 was first proposed it would have been open to Obama and his administration to ask for voting on it to be postponed until the new President had taken office, on the grounds that it was inappropriate for an outgoing administration to decide US policy on such an important Resolution when it was known that the incoming President had a different view.

Indeed that is arguably what Obama should have done.  This is an important Resolution (I attach the full text below) and given how controversial it is and its possible effect on future negotiations where the US plays a key role, there is a strong case for saying that the Obama administration should either have asked for voting on the Resolution to be postponed until after the new President had come into office, or – if that was impossible – should have consulted with President elect Donald Trump and his transition team to decide how the US would respond to it.

In the event we know from Trump’s angry reaction that he was not consulted, and there seems to have been no attempt to seek a postponement.

Obtaining a postponement looks as if it was perfectly possible.  Some countries on the Security Council – Malaysia and Venezuela especially – might have wanted to press ahead immediately.  However Egypt, which had initially proposed the Resolution, effectively disowned it, possibly under Israeli pressure, but more probably in order not to antagonise the incoming administration of Donald Trump, whilst the US’s allies, Britain and France (both Security Council Permanent Members) and Japan and New Zealand, would undoubtedly have gone along with a US request.

As for Russia, which is considering a Middle East peace initiative involving Israel and the Arabs of its own, its ambassador Vitaly Churkin in his comments to the Security Council made clear that he had expected a request for a postponement and would have supported it.  This is how the UN Press Office reports his comments
VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation), explaining that he had been puzzled by the process around the resolution and by the haste with which it had been “pushed” to the vote, agreed  with other speakers that settlement activities undermined the chances for a two-State solution, as did acts of terror and incitement to violence.

(bold italics dded)

Since that was Russia’s position it is a certainty if a request for a postponement had been made that China also would have supported it.  In that case, with all the Great Powers agreed, it is a certainty that voting on the Resolution could have been postponed until after Inauguration Day.  That a postponement did not happen is a sure sign that Obama did not want one, and that despite the US abstaining on the vote he actually wanted the Resolution passed.

The wording of the Resolution shows why this was so, and also shows who the Resolution is actually targeted at.  The key words are the following
Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and statusof the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,……
1.   Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
2.   Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
3.   Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
4.   Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution;
5.   Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;
(bold italics dded)

The context of the Resolution is that Israel captured east Jerusalem in 1967 during the Six Day War, and has ever since insisted that it forms part of Jerusalem, which it claims as its sole undivided capital.

This stance is rejected by the overwhelming majority of states including up to now the US.  Donald Trump has however spoken of formally recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and of transferring the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The key point about Resolution 2334 is that it formally reaffirms the internationally recognised status of east Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territory.  It expressly rejects Israel’s claim to it as part of its undivided capital, and not only condemns Israeli attempts to change east Jerusalem’s status and demographic composition but says that these actions have “no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation under international law.”  Moreover Resolution 2334 does all these things just weeks before Trump is due to be inaugurated.

Though there is some division within Israeli society about the West Bank settlement policy, there is overwhelming agreement within Israeli society about the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.  For most Israelis – and not just for Netanyahu – this is a very sensitive issue.

A UN Security Council Resolution has however now been passed, having behind it the whole weight of the UN Security Council’s authority, and binding on Israel and all UN Member States as an act of international law, which says that Israel’s claim to east Jerusalem, and by extension its claim to Jerusalem as its capital, has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

In light of this the strength of the Israeli reaction to Resolution 2334 is not surprising.  The Israelis would be furious about such a Resolution – which calls into question the legal status of their capital – irrespective of who the US President is.  Netanyahu’s known dislike of Obama is neither here nor there.
As for why Obama wanted such a Resolution passed in the closing weeks of his Presidency, the answer unfortunately almost certainly has little to do with Middle East peace, and everything to do with Donald Trump.

It has become increasingly clear over the last few weeks that Obama’s overriding objective during the closing weeks of his Presidency is to do whatever he can to undermine Donald Trump’s legitimacy and authority as the US’s next President, and to lock Trump in to Obama’s existing foreign policy positions.

Thus Obama has colluded in the paranoid campaign which alleges that Donald Trump owes his election to Russia; he has sought to nominate German Chancellor Angela Merkel as his true successor and guardian of his policies instead of Donald Trump; and he has cut across Trump’s known wish to improve relations with Russia by having US and EUsanctions against Russia increased and extended.

By allowing UN Resolution 2334 to pass, Obama is doing more of the same.  He knows that Trump wants closer relations with Israel and is contemplating recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there, so Obama allows a Resolution to slip past the UN Security Council that says that doing that would be against international law.

No wonder Trump – like Benjamin Netanyahu – is furious, and is making the fact known with angry comments about the UN.

Speaking for myself, on the specific issue of east Jerusalem, I happen to agree with Obama, and with Resolution 2334.

Though I understand the importance of Jerusalem not just for Israelis but also for Jewish people generally, Arabs and Muslims have at least comparably strong feelings about this issue, and given the overriding importance for the world of securing Middle East peace, it is wrong and unreasonable for Israel to try to remove the question of east Jerusalem from the negotiating table by deciding its status –¶unilaterally.

There is of course vastly more which can be said about this subject, and about Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Territories and the Arab-Israeli conflict generally, but as this is a huge subject I will not discuss it here.

The point is that Obama’s constant campaign to box in and undermine his successor, even on issues where Obama might actually be in the right, is nonetheless petulant and wrong.

What makes it even worse in this case is that Trump, Netanyahu and probably the Russians almost certainly all believe that Obama is the true author of Resolution 2334.

Obama has a constant habit of trying to deflect criticism from himself by working through others whilst keeping his own intentions secret.  This enables him to blame others for his own mistakes – as he did for example when he managed to transfer the blame for the Libyan debacle onto Hillary Clinton – or to reverse policy quickly if his existing policy runs into criticism or opposition –  a good example being the way he let last September’s Kerry-Lavrov agreement over Syria unravel when it became clear that the Pentagon and the neocons in the State Department and the CIA opposed it.

It is this habit of Obama’s of constantly failing to commit himself publicly, and of working as much as possible from behind the scenes, which in large part explains why internationally he has become so mistrusted.

The case of Resolution 2334 is a case in point.  The full story of how this Resolution suddenly materialised before the UN Security Council just a few weeks before Donald Trump was due to become President may never be known.

However, given Obama’s history and the fact that he undoubtedly wanted the Resolution to pass, there has to be a suspicion that he got his diplomats to arrange for a friendly country – probably Egypt – to sponsor the Resolution, so that it could be passed without his having to take responsibility for it.

If Obama really did act in this way – arranging moreover for the US to abstain on a Resolution which he privately supported in order to cover his traces even further – then Trump’s and Netanyahu’s anger becomes even more understandable.
Ultimately Obama’s attempts to box in his successor will probably fail, and whatever one’s views on specific issues such as that of east Jerusalem, it deserves to.

In the case of Resolution 2334, the status of east Jerusalem is far too important to be played with in this way.  It is one thing for Obama to speak out against Donald Trump’s intended policy on this issue if he think it is wrong.  It is quite another for Obama to use his remaining weeks as President to try to sabotage in advance his successor’s policy on this and on any other issue.

Obama has had eight years as US President to fashion US policy on east Jerusalem.  He could have supported a Resolution of the sort the UN Security Council has just passed at any time during his Presidency.  A good possible moment might have been shortly after his reelection in 2011, when he would have had less reason to appease Israel’s supporters in the US than he had had previously.

Had Obama supported such a Resolution before, he might have been able to build on it to work for Middle East peace.  As it is, almost certainly because Obama finds Middle East peace-making too risky and too controversial to engage in, he has allowed efforts to achieve a peace settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict to stagnate during his Presidency.  At a political level that was probably wise because none of the efforts of previous Presidents to achieve Middle East peace have borne fruit.  Nonetheless it is what a President who genuinely cared about this issue would have done.

Instead, acquiescing in or actively engineering a Resolution like Resolution 2334 at the very end of his Presidency in order to spite his successor – and possibly Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as well – is a small minded and spiteful act, which is all but guaranteed to lead nowhere.

Trump and Netanyahu are bound to ignore it, and as there is no means to enforce it, it will join the many other Resolutions the Security Council has passed over the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which are listed in the preamble to Resolution 2334, and which are regularly invoked by those who seek Middle East peace, and as regularly ignored.

Unfortunately it is the sort of small minded and spiteful act which is all too typical of this President, and which shows why Obama’s conduct of foreign policy has in the end fallen so far short of its promise, and has been so generally unsuccessful.
There now follows the complete text of UN Security Council Resolution 2334
The Security Council,
Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967)338 (1973)446 (1979)452 (1979)465 (1980)476 (1980)478 (1980)1397 (2002)1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008),
Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,
Reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice,
Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,
Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines,
Recalling the obligation under the Quartet Roadmap, endorsed by its resolution 1515 (2003), for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including “natural growth”, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001,
Recalling also the obligation under the Quartet roadmap for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons,
Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,
Stressing that the status quo is not sustainable and that significant steps, consistent with the transition contemplated by prior agreements, are urgently needed in order to (i) stabilize the situation and to reverse negative trends on the ground, which are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality, and (ii) to create the conditions for successful final status negotiations and for advancing the two-State solution through those negotiations and on the ground,
1.   Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
2.   Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
3.   Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
4.   Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution;
5.   Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;
6.   Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and calls for compliance with obligations under international law for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism;
7.   Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law, including international humanitarian law, and their previous agreements and obligations, to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace;
8.   Calls upon all parties to continue, in the interest of the promotion of peace and security, to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process and within the time frame specified by the Quartet in its statement of 21 September 2010;
9.   Urges in this regard the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;
10.  Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement;
11.  Reaffirms its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions;
12.  Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution;
13.  Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

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