Israel Bashing at the United Nations: A Yearly Ritual
By David Krusch
For decades, the United Nations General Assembly has passed countless resolutions condemning Israel for its actions against the Palestinians, while almost never formally addressing Israel's security concerns and the ongoing campaign of Palestinian terrorism against Israelis. The UNGA has also become an international forum for promoting the Palestinian cause of deligitmizing Israel. In 1975, the General Assembly awarded permanent representative status to the PLO and the UN established the “Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.” The panel became, in effect, part of the PLO propaganda apparatus, issuing stamps, organizing meetings, and preparing films and draft resolutions in support of Palestinian “rights.”
Since the establishment of this committee, the UNGA has passed annual resolutions that repeatedly condemn Israel. Many of these resolutions have passsed for several consecutive years. Some resolutions have been adopted without reference to a specific committee, meaning they went directly to the General Assembly for a vote without a review or committee discussion. For example, "The Question of Palestine: Agenda Item 38" went directly to the General Assembly without going through a committee. The following four resolutions came from Agenda Item 38, and have been passed several times in General Assembly votes.
Resolutions adopted without reference to a main committee:
The Question of Palestine: Agenda Item 38
58/18 Inalienable Rights
"Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People"
This resolution fully supports the Committee on the Exercise of Inalienable Rights of the Palestinians, and calls for the committee to "continue to extend its cooperation and support to Palestinian and other civil society organizations in order to mobilize international solidarity and support for the achievement by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights and for a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine." The United Nations believes that it has a "permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner." The resolution asks for full cooperation with the Committee, which is needed in order to mobilize the international community and non-governmental organizations against Israel. The Committee is responsible for organizing the annual November 29 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which coincides with the date of the proposal set forth by the United Nations for the partition of Palestine in 1947.
58th Session Resolution 58/18 97-7-60 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/107 109-4-56
56th Session Resolution 56/33 106-5-48
55th Session Resolution 55/52 106-2-48
54th Session Resolution 54/39 105-3-48
53rd Session Resolution 53/49 110-2-48
52nd Session Resolution 52/49 115-2-45
58/19 Palestinian Rights
"Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat"
This resolution asks the Secretary-General to provide the "necessary resources" to the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat so that it can "carry out its work as detailed in the relevant earlier resolutions" and "continues to make a useful and constructive contribution" to the Palestinian people. It also asks the Secretary-General to request the full cooperation of the Department of Public Information and all member nations in order to reduce beauracracy so the Division can cover "adequately the various aspects of the question of Palestine." It also calls upon world governments to annually support and organize observances of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November "in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations."
58th Session Resolution 58/19 96-6-63 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/108 108-4-56
56th Session Resolution 56/34 107-5-47
55th Session Resolution 55/53 107-2-48
54th Session Resolution 54/40 107-4-47
53rd Session Resolution 53/40 111-2-48
52nd Session Resolution 52/50 113-2-47
58/20 Special Information Program on Palestine
"Special Information Program on Palestine"
According to this resolution, the UNGA believes that the "worldwide dissemination of accurate and comprehensive information" about the Palestinians is vital to raising awareness about the Palestinian cause. The resolution also praises the UN Department of Public Information for "contributing effectively to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of the peace process," and requests the Department's further cooperation with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. It asks the Department to conduct six separate initiatives, including organizing "fact-finding news missions for journalists to the area," expanding its audio-visual material "on the question of Palestine," and disseminating United Nations reports and information to the general world public.
58th Session Resolution 58/20 159-6-6 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/109 159-5-0
56th Session Resolution 56/35 153-4-3
55th Session Resolution 55/54 151-2-2
54th Session Resolution 54/41 151-3-2
53rd Session Resolution 53/41 156-2-3
52nd Session Resolution 52/51 158-2-4
58/21 Question of Palestine
"Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine"
This resolution illustrates the General Assembly's full-fledged support for the Palestinian cause, and is rife with condemnation for Israel. The resolution states that a "peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine" is "the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict" and necessary for peace in the entire Middle East, and that Israel alone must take several measures to achieve peace with the Palestinians. It implies that Israel is fully to blame for the start of the conflict because of the "illegality of Israeli settlements in the territory occupied since 1967 and of Israeli actions aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem."
The resolution does condemn "acts of terror against civilians on both sides," but draws a moral equivalency between suicide bombings that kill innocent Israel and targeted killings of terrorist leaders, or "extrajudicial executions." It also expresses "grave concern over the tragic events in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000, and the continued deterioration of the situation, including the rising number of deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinian civilians, the deepening humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinian people and the widespread destruction of Palestinian property and infrastructure, both private and public, including many institutions of the Palestinian Authority." In order for a peace settlement to be reached, Israel must withdraw from "Palestinian territory occupied since 1967," resolve the refugee problem, and recognize the Palestinians' "inalienable rights," and their "right to self-determination and the right to their independent State."
58th Session Resolution 58/21 160-6-5 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/110 160-4-3
56th Session Resolution 56/36 131-6-20
55th Session Resolution 55/55 149-2-3
54th Session Resolution 54/42 149-3-2
53rd Session Resolution 53/42 154-2-3
52nd Session Resolution 52/52 155-2-3
The Situation in the Middle East: Agenda Item 37
This resolution states that it reaffirms the United Nations' belief that "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purported to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in particular the so-called "Basic Law" on Jerusalem and the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, were null and void and must be rescinded forthwith," and that any laws Israel imposes on Jerusalem are "illegal" and invalid. The resolution uses strong language when it states that it "deplores the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem," and asks them to withdraw immediately.
According to the American Jewish Committee, when the Palestinian delegation changed some text in the draft resolution, the United States changed its vote from "abstain" to "no," which was viewed as a major shift in the U.S. position regarding Jerusalem.
58th Session Resolution 58/22 155-8-7 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/111 154-5-6
56th Session Resolution 56/31 130-2-10
55th Session Resolution 55/50 145-1-5
54th Session Resolution 54/37 139-1-3
53rd Session Resolution 53/37 149-1-7
52nd Session Resolution 52/53 148-1-9
58/23 Syrian Golan
"The Situation in the Middle East: the Syrian Golan"
This resolution states that Israel must withdraw from the Golan Heights, and reiterates the "fundamental principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations," even though Israel won the territory in a defensive war in 1967. The General Assembly is "deeply concerned" that Israel had not yet withdrawn from the "Syrian Golan," and that any laws that Israel has imposed on the Golan since 1981 are illegal and void. The resolution "determines once more that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region," and calls on Israel to reestablish peace talks with Syria and Lebanon.
58th Session Resolution 58/23 104-5-61 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/112 109-4-57
56th Session Resolution 56/32 90-5-54
55th Session Resolution 55/51 96-2-55
54th Session Resolution 54/38 92-2-53
53rd Session Resolution 53/38 97-2-58
52nd Session Resolution 52/54 92-2-65
First Committee: Disarmament and International Security Matters
58/34 Nuclear Free Zone in the Middle East
"Establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Region of the Middle East"
This resolution was first adopted by consensus without a vote in 1980. It urges all countries in the Middle East to take the required steps to make the Middle East a nuclear free zone, even though it reaffirms the fact that all member nations have the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. All countries should "agree to place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards," and calls on all Middle Eastern nations to support the establishment of such a zone. If a nuclear free zone is established, then nations must agree "not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or permit the stationing on their territories, or territories under their control, of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices." The resolution also adds that bilateral peace negotiations must continue, language which was introduced by an Israeli-sponsored amendment in 1996.
58th Session Resolution 58/34 Adopted without a vote
57th Session Resolution 57/55 Adopted without a vote
56th Session Resolution 56/21 Adopted without a vote
55th Session Resolution 55/30 Adopted without a vote
54th Session Resolution 54/57 Adopted without a vote
53rd Session Resolution 53/74 Adopted without a vote
52nd Session Resolution 52/34 Adopted without a vote
58/68 Israel's Nuclear Armament
"The Risk of Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East"
This resolution states that the General Assembly is "cognizant that the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region of the Middle East would pose a serious threat to international peace and security," and notes that Israel is the only nation in the Middle East who has not signed onto the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. While singling out Israel to submit to the International Atomic Energy Agency for review, it ignores the fact that Iran, who is currently in the process of obtaining and developing nuclear weapons, is also a non-signatory of this treaty.
58th Session Resolution 58/68 162-4-10 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/97 158-3-8
56th Session Resolution 56/27 153-3-6
55th Session Resolution 55/36 157-3-8
54th Session Resolution 54/57 149-3-9
53rd Session Resolution 53/80 158-2-11
52nd Session Resolution 52/34 147-2-14
Second Committee: Economic and Financial Matters
58/229 Permanent Sovereignty of the Palestinian People Over Their Natural Resources
"Permanent Sovereignty of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources"
This resolution reiterates that an occupied people should have complete control of its natural resources, and that the United Nations is appliying the principles of the Geneva Convention that protects civilians in times of war to "Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967." It claims that Israel is exploiting the resources of the Palestinian people, and is concerned that there has been "extensive destruction by Israel, the occupying Power, of agricultural land and orchards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the recent period, including the uprooting of a vast number of olive trees." The resolution also condemns Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which it claims is detrimental to Arab natural resources, and condemns "the wall being constructed by Israel inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem."
Like others before it, this resolution "reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water." It calls on Israel to fully compensate the Palestinians for exploiting their resources in a final status peace agreement.
58th Session Resolution 58/299 142-4-9 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/269 155-4-4
56th Session Resolution 56/204 148-4-4
55th Session Resolution 55/209 147-2-3
54th Session Resolution 54/230 145-3-6
53rd Session Resolution 53/196 144-2-12
52nd Session Resolution 52/207 137-2-14
Third Committee: Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Matters
58/155 Palestinian Children
"Situation of and assistance to Palestinian Children"
This resolution is "concerned also about the continued grave deterioration of the situation of Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory" and the "psychological consequences of the Israeli military actions" on children. The resolution expresses the need for Palestinian children to live normal lives free of "occupation and fear," but makes no mention of Israeli children who live under the physical and psychological threat of Palestinian terrorism. All nations are urged to give aid to ease the "dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian children and their families," but are not asked to condemn terrorism against Israeli children and their families.
58th Session Resolution 58/155 106-5-65 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/188 105-5-60
58/163 Palestinian Self-Determination
"The Right of the Palestinian People to Self-Determination"
The United Nations reaffirms one of its main purposes as an international institution by claiming that the development of friendly relations between nations is based upon equal rights and self-determination of all peoples, and it is under this viewpoint that it fully supports the "right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine." This resolution urges all nations and organizations to support the "Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination."
58th Session Resolution 58/163 169-5-0 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/198 172-4-3
56th Session Resolution 56/142 161-3-1
55th Session Resolution 55/87 170-2-5
54th Session Resolution 54/152 156-2-1
53rd Session Resolution 53/136 162-2-6
52nd Session Resolution 52/114 160-2-6
Fourth Committee: Special Political and Decolonization Matters
58/92 Displaced Persons
"Persons Displaced as a Result of the June 1967 and Subsequent Hostilities"
This resolution endorses the Palestinian position on the so-called "Right of Return," where all Palestinian refugees and their descendants would have the right to settle in the place of their former homes before 1967 inside Israel. The issue of Palestinian refugees is a key issue in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but the General Assembly has already decided the outcome that it prefers, ignoring Israel's security concerns with the fact that it would be in effect be allowing in 4 million people hostile to its existence. The resolution also endorses the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to provide humanitarian aid to "to persons in the area who are currently displaced and in serious need of continuing assistance as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities."
58th Session Resolution 58/92 106-5-65 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/119 155-5-3
56th Session Resolution 56/54 151-3-1
55th Session Resolution 55/125 156-2-2
54th Session Resolution 54/71 154-2-2
53rd Session Resolution 53/48 156-2-1
52nd Session Resolution 52/59 159-2-1
58/93 UNRWA Operations
"Operations of the United Nations Refugees and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East"
This resolution applies the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to the Palestinians to "territory occupied since 1967 including Jerusalem," and calls upon Israel, as the "Occupying Power," to abide by the rules of this convention. It commends the "valuable work "of UNRWA to assisting and protecting the Palestinian refugees, but is "gravely concerned about the increased suffering of the Palestine refugees, including the loss of life, injury and destruction and damage to their shelters and properties" due to Israeli military operations. The resolution condemns Israel for its policies of imposing curfews and restrictions of movement on refugees and aid workers, and urges Israel to compensate UNRWA for any damages that may have been incurred due to Israeli actions. Not mentioned are the damage and destruction caused by Palestinian acts of terror.
58th Session Resolution 58/93 162-5-8 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/121 155-5-4
56th Session Resolution 56/56151-3-1
55th Session Resolution 55/127 157-2-2
54th Session Resolution 54/73 154-2-1
53rd Session Resolution 53/50 157-2-2
52nd Session Resolution 52/61 158-2-3
58/94 Refugee Property
"Palestine Refugees' Properties and Their Revenues"
The text of this resolution states that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights mandates that no person is to be arbitrarily deprived of their property, and the General Assembly applies this article of the Declaration when discussing Palestinian refugees. The refugee issue will be negotiated in the final status agreement by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization according to the Declaration of Principles agreed upon in 1993, but the General Assembly decided what the final agreement would be before final status negotiations commenced. The resolution says Palestinian refugees "are entitled to their property and to the income derived therefrom," and calls upon United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine to protect Arab assets inside Israel.
58th Session Resolution 58/94 164-5-4 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/122 159-5-2
56th Session Resolution 56/57 150-3-1
55th Session Resolution 55/128 156-2-2
54th Session Resolution 54/74 154-2-2
53rd Session Resolution 53/51 156-2-1
52nd Session Resolution 52/62 158-2-3
58/96 Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices
"Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territory"
According to the American Jewish Committee, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices was established in 1968, and is the only UN organization created to investigate human rights in a specific country. The Committee only monitors alledged Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians, but does not investigate Palestinian human rights abuses, including terrorism, against Israelis. Each year, the UN bodies adopt five resolutions that condemn Israeli practices, and these resolutions account for one quarter of all country-specific resolutions adopted by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
This resolution begins with the "hope that the Israeli occupation will be brought to an early end and that therefore the violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people will cease." The Committee "especially condemns the excessive and indiscriminate use of force against the civilian population, including extrajudicial executions, which has resulted in more than 2,600 Palestinian deaths and tens of thousands of injuries." The resolution also claims that Israel has continually violated the provisions of the Geneva Convention that protects civilians in its treatment of Palestinians.
58th Session Resolution 58/96 87-7-78 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/124 86-6-66
56th Session Resolution 56/59 84-4-58
55th Session Resolution 55/130 91-2-61
54th Session Resolution 54/76 84-2-67
53rd Session Resolution 53/53 86-2-67
52nd Session Resolution 52/64 83-2-72
58/97 Geneva Convention
"Applicability of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Palestinian Territory, Including Jerusalem, and the Other Occupied Arab Territories"
This resolution states that Israel should immediately begin to comply with international law that was set forth in the Geneva Convention to protect civilians from harm during wartime. The General Assembly uses strong language when it "demands that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967."
58th Session Resolution 58/97 164-6-13 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/126 152-6-3
56th Session Resolution 56/61 145-4-3
55th Session Resolution 55/132 152-4-0
54th Session Resolution 54/78 149-3-3
53rd Session Resolution 53/55 150-3-2
52nd Session Resolution 52/65 149-2-7
58/98 Israeli Settlements
"Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including Jerusalem, and the Occupied Syrian Golan"
This resolution propagates the myth that Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace. The settlements, according to the resolution, have a detrimental impact on the Palestinian population and economy, and are in fact illegal because they confiscate Palestinian land and exploit their natural resources. The General Assembly is also "gravely concerned about the dangerous situation resulting from actions taken by the illegal armed Israeli settlers in the occupied territory," and calls upon Israel to accept the Geneva Convention from 1949 and remove all settlers from Palestinian land. It also demands that Israel immediately cease the constuction of the Security Fence. The resolution "reiterates its calls for the prevention of all acts of violence by Israeli settlers," but mentions nothing of Palestinian terrorism against settlers or civilians in Israel proper.
58th Session Resolution 58/98 156-6-13 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/126 152-6-3
56th Session Resolution 56/61 145-4-3
55th Session Resolution 55/132 152-4-0
54th Session Resolution 54/78 149-3-3
53rd Session Resolution 53/55 150-3-2
52nd Session Resolution 52/66 149-2-7
58/99 Israeli Practices
"Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including Jerusalem"
In this resolution, the General Assembly is "concerned about the continuing systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power, including the use of collective punishment, the reoccupation and closure of areas, the confiscation of land, the establishment and expansion of settlements," and "the construction of a wall inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory." While the resolution briefly mentions that the General Assembly is "gravely concerned" with the practice of suicide bombings which kill innocent Israeli civilians, the rest of the resolution launches into condemnation of Israeli practices toward the Palestinians, including the "Israeli policy of closure and the severe restrictions, including curfews, imposed on the movement of persons and goods, including medical and humanitarian personnel and goods," and "the ill-treatment and harassment of any Palestinian prisoners and all reports of torture." All measures taken by Israel in Occupied Palestinian Territory are illegal under the constructs of international law. The resolution then states that it deplores all acts of violence and terror, but saves its harshest condemnations for Israel when saying it condemns "especially the excessive use of force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians," and not Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.
58th Session Resolution 58/99 150-6-19 (Yay-Nay-Abstain)
57th Session Resolution 57/127 148-6-6
56th Session Resolution 56/62 145-4-2
55th Session Resolution 55/133 150-3-1
54th Session Resolution 54/79 150-2-3
53rd Session Resolution 53/56 151-2-4
52nd Session Resolution 52/67 151-2-7
ES-10/12 Emergency Session: Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories
This resolution reiterates that there has been suffering on both sides of the conflict due to intense violence since September 2000. The resolution does condemn Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, and calls on the Palestinian Authority to take the necessary steps to end violence and terror. It also "deplores the extrajudicial killings" by Israel of terrorist leaders. The resolution "demands that Israel, the occupying Power, desist from any act of deportation and cease any threat to the safety of the elected President of the Palestinian Authority (then Yasser Arafat)," and states that it is unlawful for Israel to deport any Palestinian out of Palestinian Territory.
ES-10/13 Emergency Session: Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories
This resolution claims that by Israel constructing its Security Fence, it is taking Palestinian land, which goes against the "principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force." It also condemns all acts of violence and terrorism, including the escalation of suicide bombings, but again draws a moral equivalency between intentional murder of civilians and targeted killings of terrorist leaders when the text says it deplores "the extrajudicial killings and their recent intensification" by Israel. The General Assembly "demands that Israel stop and reverse the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem," and is concerned "that the route marked out for the wall...could prejudge future negotiations and make the two-State solution physically impossible to implement." The resolution also reiterates its condemnation of "settlement activities in the Occupied Territories" because it in effect confiscates Palestinian land.
ES-10/15 Emergency Session: Advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem
This resolution is the follow-up to the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion about the legality of Israel's Security Fence built roughly in the area of the Green Line. The Court opinion was that the construction of the fence was illegal, and based upon this opinion, the General Assembly then demanded that "Israel stop and reverse the construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem." Israel is also obliged to "make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory." The resolution reaffirmed that the United Nations has a "permanent responsibility...towards the question of Palestine until it is resolved in all aspects," and that it fully supports "right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to their independent State of Palestine." All branches of the United Nations "should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime."
Sources: “One-Sided: The Relentless Campaign Against Israel in the United Nations. A Report on 2003-2004 General Assembly Resolutions on the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” The American Jewish Committee, (September 2004), The United Nations