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The UN Should Not Reward the Palestinians for Oct. 7th

May 09, 2024

The United Nations General Assembly is expected to vote Friday on one of the worst resolutions to come before that body – one that would confer upon the “State of Palestine” many of the rights and privileges reserved for member states. The U.S. and other U.N. member states should reject it.

The resolution is based on false premises, for one thing. It would also invite financial distress on the UN, throw chaos into the membership process of the General Assembly, and, most importantly, reward terrorism.

Considering the ongoing support for indiscriminate violence against Israeli civilians by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, a majority vote of the General Assembly in favor of this resolution is tantamount to encouraging terrorism and endorsing hostility toward a fellow UN member state.

Among the false premises are the claim that “the State of Palestine is qualified for membership in the United Nations… and should therefore be admitted to membership…” Although over 100 governments recognize the State of Palestine, this is a political determination. In truth, the Palestinian territories lack key characteristics of statehood, including a defined territory – its formal borders are subject to future negotiations with Israel – and a government that exercises sovereign authority over that territory. The Palestinian Authority arguably does not control the entirety of the West Bank, much less Gaza.

The second false premise in the resolution is the judgment that Palestine is a “peace-loving state” as required by Article 4 of the UN Charter for membership in the organization. In fact, the governing authorities of the “State of Palestine,” the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, are the furthest thing from peace-loving. Both are extremist organizations that actively encourage and reward terrorism against civilians. They indoctrinate hate among ordinary citizens to the point where they overwhelmingly support the terrorist atrocities committed on October 7, and their founding documents endorse the destruction of Israel.

So much for the UN Charter principles and purposes to maintain international peace and security and develop friendly relations among nations.

But there could also be other significant broader ramifications for the organization that should give all legitimate UN member states pause.

The resolution “decides” to confer many of the rights and privileges reserved for member states to the “State of Palestine.” As laid out in an annex to the resolution, among other privileges, the Palestinians would be granted the right to: be seated among the member states in alphabetical order; offer proposals and amendments; make statements; raise procedural motions; and stand for and be elected as officers in the General Assembly and its Main Committees.

In effect, the Palestinians would be member states except for the inability to “put forward its candidature to United Nations organs” and vote in the General Assembly. Depending on how the resolution is interpreted, they might, however, be able to vote in UN conferences and meetings. This is a dramatic elevation in status for the Palestinians, granting them the same standing as UN member states with two, albeit significant, exceptions.

Should the resolution be adopted, two U.S. laws prohibiting U.S. funding could be triggered.

One, adopted in 1994 in Public Law 103-236, prohibits funding if “to any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”

This law would likely not apply. Although the resolution would confer many privileges of UN membership to the Palestinians, they would not be full members as the UN Charter requires the Security Council to recommend new members to the General Assembly. The Security Council has not made such a recommendation. In fact, it has rejected past proposals for Palestinian membership. Thus, while the resolution would confer most rights and privileges of membership to the Palestinians, they would not be called a member state.

However, a second law could apply.

U.S. Code Title 22, Section 287e states, “No funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or any other Act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states.” This law was adopted in 1990 as Public Law 101-246.

The Biden administration will seek to continue funding by arguing that the Palestinians don’t have the exact same standing as member states. But what if Donald Trump wins the presidency in November?

Regardless, congressional support for the UN is eroding for several reasons, including institutionalized anti-Israel bias. It already ended funding to UNRWA over its ties to Palestinian terrorism. Sympathy for the UN after a vote granting rights and privileges to the Palestinians might be in short supply. Indeed, Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho and 22 co-sponsors have already proposed amending U.S. law to ensure the funding prohibition applies in this instance.

The U.S. provides 22 percent of the UN regular budget and 25 percent of the peacekeeping budget – over $2 billion in 2023. Thus, in one rash moment, the General Assembly could deny the UN over a fifth of its total revenue.

The resolution also upends the membership process outlined in the UN Charter. In essence, supporters of the Palestinians are attempting an end run around the Security Council to grant the Palestinians quasi-membership. This is an assault on the authority of the Security Council. If this effort is successful, what is to stop the General Assembly from further infringement of Security Council authority?

More immediately, it will introduce potential chaos into the UN system. Although the resolution says that conferring these rights and privileges to the Palestinians is being done “exceptional basis and without setting a precedent,” the horse will have left the barn.

If the Palestinians can gain most membership rights without Security Council approval, why can’t Kosovo or Western Sahara or Somaliland or Northern Cyprus?

What is to stop some avaricious country from using the UN to recognize the independence of Crimea or Esequibo or Kashmir with an eye toward annexing them in the future?

What is to stop governments from seeking to destabilize their adversaries by recognizing Kurdistan or Chechnya and seeking UN recognition?

Success would only require enough votes in the General Assembly. But the ramifications of such provocative actions won’t stay in Turtle Bay.

If only to protect their authority, this resolution should elicit fierce opposition from the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). However, the potential impact on international peace and security is serious enough to justify opposition even absent selfish motivation.

The situation in Gaza has raised many concerns in the UN, but it’s time for a moment of lucidity. As noted by the U.S. this month, “We also have long been clear that premature actions here in New York, even with the best of intentions, will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people.”

Indeed, conferring membership rights and privileges on the Palestinians would diminish odds for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Why would the Palestinians concede anything to Israel if intransigence and extremism leads to rewards rather than condemnation? And why would Israel accept a resolution imposed by the UN, not reached through direct negotiations?

The purported goal of the UN is to promote international peace and security. This resolution would, instead, undermine prospects for peace and reward extremism. If it passes, U.S. funding should be immediately cut. If the Biden administration will not follow through, Congress should—as should the next President.

Brett D. Schaefer is the Jay Kingham Senior Research Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs in The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.

This article was originally published by RealClearWorld and made available via RealClearWire.
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