Jonathan Arkush condemns UN Security Council vote at London rally

This is Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush’s speech to the London rally against UN Security Council Resolution 2334. You can watch the full speech here (from eight minutes) or read the transcript below.


On 16.12.16 this is what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said about his own United Nations body: “Over the last decade I have argued that we cannot have a bias against Israel at the UN.

“Decades of political manoeuvring have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel.

“In many cases, instead of helping the Palestinian issue, this reality has foiled the ability of the UN to fulfill its role effectively.”

In response, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon pointed out that during this time the UN passed 223 resolutions condemning Israel, while only eight resolutions condemning the Syrian regime as it has massacred its citizens over the past six years.

Despite the condemnation of the UN’s own Sec Gen, exactly one week later the Security Council passed a 224th resolution hostile to Israel.

I want to be clear from the start: Resolution 2334 is a disgrace.  Its original proposer, Egypt, dropped it, but it was rescued by such human rights luminaries as Venezuela and Malaysia.  It succeeded in passing thanks to an act of spite by a lame duck United States administration whose Middle East policy has been a disaster for America and the world.

And therefore I want to know – our community wants to know – how on earth our own UK Government came to vote for it ?

I can tell you that on Christmas Day I passed a strongly worded message to the Prime Minister expressing my anger – yes that was the word I used – that British diplomats in the UN could have sunk to such depths.  I intend to follow up with Ministers in person and I will be asking them the following questions:

  • who took the decision to ally the United Kingdom with Venezuela and Malaysia ?
  • were any Ministers involved and if so which ones ?
  • what advice did they rely on in deciding how to cast the UK’s vote ?
  • what was known to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson ?
  • was Prime Minister Theresa May “blindsided”, as some media reports have suggested ?

Whatever the answers to these and other pertinent questions, my views about Resolution 2334 are clearcut and the reasons are compelling:

The resolution is full of outrageous falsehoods, it is amoral and it was shameful that the UK Government voted in favour of it.

Here are just a few examples, and you will hear more from others:

East Jerusalem is described as a settlement in “Palestinian territory occupied since 1967”.  Whoever wrote that is either ignorant or malicious.  It never was Palestinian territory but was occupied by Jordan under no legal right whatsoever.

And friends, the Kotel and the Jewish Quarter are not, never were and never will be “settlements”.  They are the land of the Jewish people by historical and moral right, they have always been and they always will be.  Even on our enemies’ logic, if 19 years of occupation by Jordan between 1949 and 1967 confers ownership in international law as the UN seems to think, then 3,000 years of lawful habitation by Jews must be a far stronger claim.

The next lie for mention in Resolution 2334 is that everything beyond the 1949 armistice lines is called “occupied Palestinian territory”.  But friends, not only Jewish Jerusalem but Gush Etzion, Hebron and many Jewish villages which had been lived in by Jews for decades and even hundreds of years saw their Jewish populations murdered in the 1949 War of Independence and the years leading up to it.  I do not accept that land ethnically cleansed of Jews has any right to be treated as belonging to the ethnic cleansers.

The final protest that I shall mention is the Resolution’s call to all states to “distinguish … between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.  That is nothing short of an open invitation and indeed legitimisation of the BDS campaign, towards which PM Theresa May has rightly voiced her vociferous objection.

For these and other reasons Resolution 2334 substantively alters established UK Government policy and our community wants to know why.  On Friday afternoon 23rd December when Ministers were enjoying their Christmas lunches who committed our Government to voting for, not even abstaining from, this detestable and false UN move ?

It is clear that Resolution 2334 lacks credibility or truth and will harm peace.  It encourages the Palestinians to think they can achieve their goals by means of pressurising Israel instead of sitting down to direct negotiations that will be the only way of bringing about peace, it provides undeserved cover to the duplicitous Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 11th year of his 4 year term, who chooses incitement over statesmanship, and it provides fuel to the boycotters.

Our Government must now distance itself from this iniquitous resolution.  It should identify who at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office apparently blindsided Ministers at Christmas and repudiate their ill-advised advice.  Our community wants assurances that no further steps will be authorised on the basis of it and that the Government will in future oppose the bias against Israel at the UN.

Two hundred and twenty two resolutions aimed at Israel, eight at Syria – this is the work of a disgraced world body.  For our Government to have given its support to such a shameless and ill-conceived move in the season of goodwill to all men is incomprehensible.  It hurts.  And I want to hear the Government say that it was a mistake that will not be repeated.

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