Today’s Top Stories
1. A day after Egypt withdrew its anti-settlement resolution, the US allowed the UN Security Council to pass a similar resolution. Here’s the full text of resolution 2334.
Israel rejected the resolution, calling it “shameful” and saying Jerusalem would not abide by it. The White House said Netanyahu brought the US abstention on himself. And Palestinians called the vote “a big blow” to Israel. Indeed, the potential ramifications noted by YNet are gloomy:
The resolution makes Israeli citizens that are involved in the settlement enterprise in the West Bank vulnerable to lawsuits in courts all over the world.
Jerusalem is also worried that the resolution opens the door for lawsuits against Israeli officials at the ICC: government ministers and senior IDF officers who make decisions about construction in the settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes, or the expropriation of lands could be accused of war crimes under the Geneva Convention.
The resolution can also lead to the creation of mechanisms to monitor and report Israeli actions, which could lead to sanctions being imposed against it.
The resolution’s wording can also be seen as a victory to the BDS Movement, as it opens the door for boycotts of goods produced in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
More on the fallout below.
2. In response to the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would stop funding UN institutions, recalled Israel’s ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand (Jewish Kiwis are worried Israel will close the embassy in Wellington), cancelled a visit by Ukraine’s Prime Minister, and nixed foreign aid to Senegal. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered the IDF to scale back civilian contacts with the PA. And YNet notes another possible countermeasure:
Israel is also considering stopping work visas to employees of these UN agencies and expelling UNRWA spokesman in Israel, Chris Gunness, who Jerusalem is accusing of inciting against the State of Israel.
3. If you think fake news is innocuous, think again. It started when a fake news site called AWD News “reported” that ex-Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon threatened to destroy Pakistan with a nuclear attack if the Pakistanis sent Sunni ground forces to Syria.
Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh.Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too AH
— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) December 23, 2016
(By the way, fake news also led to baseless accusations of anti-Semitism in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. More on that at Haaretz.)
4. The Metro Rewrites History: Historical revisionism contributes to a false narrative of the Mideast conflict that so favors the Palestinians today.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Haaretz: At a cabinet meeting following the vote, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned that the world might try to take additional measures against Israel before the end of the Obama presidency.
• Discussing the UN vote, an analyst suggested to Radio New Zealand that Wellington’s eagerness to sponsor the vote may have been motivated by financial considerations.
Israel has instructed its ambassador in New Zealand to return home for consultation, but Steve Hoadley said the country need not be worried.
“New Zealand also trades with the Arab states, is about to sign a free trade agreement with the Gulf Co-operation Council.
“There’s huge profits being made to export lamb and other dairy products, other food products to the Arab states.
“If there was to be a big trade payoff, the calculations would be in favour of going with the Arab and the Muslim countries.”
• In defiance of the UN, Israeli lawmakers told the Times of Israel that contentious legislation legalizing West Bank outposts will be back on the agenda.
• Haaretz looks at how the Palestinians navigated their agenda through the UN.
• The IDF’s looking for Palestinians who opened fire on the entrance to the Beit El settlement in a drive-by shooting this morning. No injuries reported. On Saturday, police thwarted a Palestinian stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City. And on Friday night, an Israeli man was stabbed in the West Bank settlement of Efrat. Soldiers searching for the terrorist surrounded a nearby Palestinian village.
• Firefighters successfully battled a blaze at a Haifa petrochemical facility, preventing the fire from spreading from one fuel storage tank to other nearby tanks. No indications of terror. More at the Jerusalem Post.
• Number of items censored by Facebook in Israel has quadrupled this year.
Around the World
• Stephen Pollard‘s furious at the BBC for erasing the Israel origins of an important breakthrough in cancer treatment.
• The Daily Telegraph takes a closer look at anti-Semitism on UK campuses, interviewing Baroness Ruth Deech of the House of Lords, Sir Eric Pickles, and publishing an op-ed response by Josh Nagli of the Union of Jewish Students.
• In Ireland, an upcoming conference at University College Cork is raising concerns among Jewish students. Israel advocates say the program, “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility” will just be an Israel-bashing hatefest providing “activists the opportunity to hide their antisemitism behind a cloak of academic legitimacy,” according to The Algemeiner.
• A Barcelona court nixed a suburb’s illegally-passed BDS resolution as unconstitutional.
• This snippet from a Washington Post staff-ed pretty much sums up the problem with resolution 2334. I didn’t see much acknowledgement of a 10-month settlement freeze in 2010.
Nevertheless, settlements do not explain the administration’s repeated failures to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas proved unwilling to negotiate seriously even during the settlement freeze, and it refused to accept a framework for negotiations painstakingly drawn up by Secretary of State John F. Kerry in 2014. In past negotiations, both sides have acknowledged that any deal will involve the annexation by Israel of settlements near its borders, where most of the current construction takes place — something the U.N. resolution, which was pressed by the Palestinians, did not acknowledge or take into account.
• Plenty of commentary and crystal ball-gazing over the UN vote.
– Elliott Abrams and Michael Singh: The US just made Middle East peace harder
– Avi Issacharoff: In doleful West Bank, UN vote brings little cheer to Palestinians
– Spengler: The “settlements” are not an obstacle to peace but a precondition for peace
– Orly Azoulay: Trump won’t be able to change the UNSC resolution
– Herb Keinon: Differentiation clause will boost BDS
– Raphael Ahren: UN punctures Netanyahu’s theory that settlements are a non-issue
– Alan Dershowitz: Trump was right to try to stop Obama from tying his hands on Israel
– Dennis Ross: Obama has been against Israel settlements since taking office
– Jonathan Tobin: Obama’s betrayal
– Peter Baker: For Obama and Netanyahu, a final clash after years of conflict
– Moshe Arens: Obama broke it, Trump will fix it
– Wall St. Journal (staff-ed): Obama’s anti-Israel tantrum (click via Google News)
– New York Daily News (staff-ed): Obama shafts Israel
• Here’s what else I’m reading today . . .
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