At UN, a step forward — and two steps back

At UN, a step forward — and two steps back

Given the blatant bias of the United Nations toward Israel, the country most condemned in the world body’s resolutions, even losing a vote in the General Assembly can feel like a victory.

Last week a U.N. resolution that would have condemned Hamas for firing hundreds of rockets into Israel in recent days and inciting violence failed to pass. But it received a large majority of votes, with 87 countries in favor of the resolution and 57 opposed. (Thirty-three countries abstained, and 23 countries were not present for the vote.) A procedural move requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage prevented a first-ever U.N. vote to condemn the terrorist group based in Gaza.

Israeli and U.S. officials hailed the outcome as a victory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that the result was “a principled stand against Hamas,” and Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon noted that Israel achieved “a plurality that would have been a majority if the vote had not been hijacked by a political move of procedure.” Nikki Haley, who will leave her post as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at year’s end, said that with 87 countries calling Hamas “a problem, the tide has changed. It is a new day at the U.N.”

That comment seems overly optimistic, though. It should be noted that while the voting was taking place, the U.N.’s peace-keeping force UNIFIL (U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon) was doing its best to ignore the fact that Hezbollah, the Iran-sponsored terror group in Lebanon, had been caught in a blatant and dangerous violation of U.N. rules and Israeli sovereignty by digging tunnels from Lebanon into Israel.

UNIFIL’s commander visited the tunnels that Israel exposed last week and reported that he will “communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon.” This would be laughable were it not so serious; UNIFIL’s mandate is to patrol the area. Was it unaware of the tunnels being dug under its nose? And clearly there are no “appropriate authorities in Lebanon,” where Hezbollah plays a key role in running the country. Elliott Abrams, in his Council on Foreign Relations blog, Pressure Points, notes that UNIFIL’s $500 million budget appears to be a waste of money because “Hezbollah is preparing for war and UNIFIL is supposed to get in its way.” Instead, it appears that it will do nothing, as usual.

While it is noteworthy that Israel, with U.S. backing, received a majority of votes on the Hamas violations, it’s clear from the tunnels episode in Lebanon that “a new day at the U.N.” has yet to arrive.

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