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Pushing back against the anti-Israel UN vote

Posted by Tip Staff - January 04, 2017


Legal expert Eugene Kontorovich published an opinion piece in The Washington Post Wednesday outlining ways the incoming presidential administration and Congress can upend the United Nations Security Council resolution passed last month—widely regarded as a stab in the back to Israel. Lawmakers from both parties and the nation’s top newspapers panned the vote as a step backwards for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In his piece, Kontorovich makes clear that the UN Security Council resolution is meant to shape, not create, international law—meaning the United States can still preemptively define what is legal. “Going beyond executive policy statements,” he wrote, “the constitutional role of defining offenses ‘against the Law of Nations’ falls to Congress, which can pass legislation making clear that Israel does not violate international law by permitting Jews to live in territories under its control.” This would include areas such as the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a Jewish holy site which was deemed “occupied” by the Security Council.


In its first business in the new session, Congressional leadership has scheduled a vote Thursday on a bipartisan resolution opposing United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which denies the historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem and hurts prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported Tuesday.
The resolution is co-sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Rep. Elliott Engel (D-N.Y.) and condemns the resolution for "effectively [stating] that the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, are 'occupied territory'" and in violation of international law.
The resolution further derogates the resolution for undermining "the long-standing position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues," contributing to "politically motivated acts of boycott, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel" and setting back "the prospect of Israelis and Palestinians resuming productive, direct negotiations."
On Tuesday, Royce announced that 51 bipartisan co-sponsors had signed onto the legislation including prominent Democratic Representatives Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), and Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.).
On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Ben  Cardin (D-Md.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a parallel bill in the upper chamber. Incoming Senate Minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) are among the bipartisan cosponsors of the Senate bill.
Upon introducing the bill, Rubio said that the bill was meant to fight "efforts to delegitimize Israel" that "have been underway a long time at the United Nations." He added, "When it comes to the U.S.-Israel alliance, we believe that senators of both parties must stand firmly with Israel and condemn efforts to undermine Israel's legitimacy. This resolution expresses the Senate's rejection of continued anti-Israel efforts at the United Nations, reiterates our commitment to Israel, and urges the incoming administration to work with Congress on this issue.”
“I am deeply disappointed that the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which is a one-sided text that makes direct negotiations for a two-state solution more challenging. Our Senate Resolution sends the message that the U.S.-Israel partnership is ironclad,” Cardin said. “Going forward, Congress will take action against efforts at the UN or beyond that use Resolution 2334 to target Israel.  I hope that in 2017 we can look at policies and actions that facilitate resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and I stand ready to support productive efforts.”


The Palestinian Authority is likely to impose austerity measures after a reduction in overseas funding, the PA Prime Minister warned on Tuesday.
Rami Hamdallah told Al-Quds newspaper that “we had expected to get $1.2 billion in [external] support and aid but we have only received $640 million so far”. In a statement, the PA cabinet said that it expects to run a budget deficit in 2017 of $1.06 billion, equivalent to 15 percent of gross domestic product. The statement further said that it expects the shortfall in foreign funding to amount to $765 million in 2017 and that “such a decline compels us to adopt a austerity in all fields”.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates in particular have cut back their contributions to the PA in recent months, Reuters reported. Saudi Arabia contributed around $20 million each month to the PA until last April, but has reportedly stopped payments in part to pressure PA President Mahmoud Abbas to implement political reforms.
The European Union and U.S. have also recently reduced their direct budgetary support to the PA, opting instead to fund specific development projects, Reuters added. In December 2016, following concerns that foreign aid money was being used to pay the salary of Palestinian terrorists, the British government announced that it will continue to provide taxpayer-funded aid to the PA, with a series of “critical changes” to how the system was previously run.
Questions over the Palestinians’ ability to manage funds have long been a concern regarding their ability to run a viable state.


The relationship between Israel and Azerbaijan is a positive one indicating that friendship can exist between a Jewish and a Muslim state, Alexander Murinson, a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar Ilan University, wrote in The Hill on Tuesday. “[T]hese two nations prove the viability of a Jewish state and a Muslim majority state serving as true and steadfast allies to one another and that Muslims and Jews can, indeed, coexist. It is not simply a matter of just ‘getting along,’ but thriving with and because of the other,” Murinson explained. The scholar highlighted the strong ties between the two countries, which exist on several planes: military, commerce, diplomacy, agriculture, energy, and technology.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Azerbaijan last month to meet with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. Netanyahu said, “Here we have an example of Muslims and Jews working together to promise a better future for both of us.” Just a few days after their meeting, Azerbaijan announced that it had purchased the Iron Dome missile system from Israel.Israel has a strong economic and security relationship with Azerbaijan, buying more than a quarter of its oil from the country. It is also reportedly one of Azerbaijan’s largest weapons merchants, selling close to $5 billion in defense equipment. “Azerbaijan is more important for Israel than France,” Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in 2012, noting at the time that Israel did more trade with Azerbaijan than France.
A day after visiting Azerbaijan, Netanyahu traveled to Kazakhstan, another Muslim-majority nation, where he said, “Our relations with our Muslim Arab neighbors are changing dramatically. Not all of [it] is public, some of it is, but it’s changing dramatically. And I view the relations with Kazakhstan as being part of this great change that the world is waiting for.” Netanyahu was the first Israeli prime minister to ever visit the Central Asian nation.

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