2016 has been a year full of undermining, overrating, and just surprises in general. The last summit of the Security Council (UNSC), the most vital decision-making body within the United Nations, which is composed of five core members and ten rotating countries, proved to be no different. The widely discussed, and often criticized, international structure took a decision that surprised many. Some people were left pleasantly surprised, while others not at all.
To those who have no idea what is going on: What exactly happened at the UNSC summit? The non-government institution, famously known for its five core members, took a decision, different to the ones it has taken before. The everlasting Arab-Israeli conflict, which has been around for long enough to be in our history books, seems to be coming to some kind of a conclusion. For the first time, since the 1970s, the United States of America, under President Barack Obama, decided not to veto a decision against Israel.
The UNSC reached a resolution which, in very tough yet diplomatic language, condemns all of Israel’s settlement actions in both the West Bank and Jerusalem, since 1967. Of course, as most decisions taken by the United Nations, this resolution is not enforceable. Still, it carries a great symbolic meaning. To a nation which never gave up on a dream of its own state, this small step means a lot, as it hopefully builds the basis to a new, and more importantly equal, two state solution.
Then what does all of this mean for Israel? In reality, this resolution changes nothing. As mentioned earlier, the resolution is not enforceable. Looking back at previous rulings by the UNSC, it is not hard to realize that often states choose not comply, simply because they don’t have to. However, to those of more “different” beliefs, like Israel’s very own prime-minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, this is a “shameful act”. One does not need to be a diplomat or a politician to understand the level of discontent within the Israeli leadership.
So what did Israel do about it? In a weird, yet unsurprising manner, Israel decided to “punish” all who stood with the resolution. Countries like New Zealand (now one of the leaders of the pro-Palestine campaign) lost their Israeli embassies (fourteen countries in total had their Israeli ambassadors recalled from their missions), while African countries that rely on Israeli aid lost such benefits. An example of this is Senegal, towards which all promised finances were cancelled. Quite the sour reaction, isn’t it?
Many questions are left for the future. What comes next from Israel? From Palestine? What should we expect from the USA once Trump comes into power? Should we expect him to keep his word of support to Netanyahu, or are his current statements a continuation of his notorious campaign? What does Theresa May’s position mean, and how does it reflect the tensions surrounding Brexit? What is Russia’s role in all of this? more questions are left for time to answer.
In the end it is up to each one of us to decide what exactly this means, and whether it is good or bad. Each story has two sides, and rationality means listening to both. However, after decades of one-sided story-telling, this small event seems to bring forth a new point of view, which seems to have lost its voice with time.
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