UN S/121119

There have been many UN general assembly resolutions, and US vetoed security council resolutions, calling for a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. There is now, and has been for some time, an Arab-Peace initiative which calls for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories, the recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state, and the resolution of the refugee crisis in accordance with UN general assembly resolution 194. And yet, it remains dogma here in North America – which means it can be asserted without evidence – that Arab states care little about the plight of the Palestinian people. The hypocrisy of this, speaking from within states and knowledge-structures which uphold American interests, when it is not deniable that America has for so long and so persistently blocked peace in the region, is beyond recognizability – we don’t see it.

In this context, I think it’s meaningful to go back to a failed UN security council resolution from 1976: S/12119. S/121119 was presented by non-permanent security council members on behalf of the Arab states involved in border disputes with Israel, and it called for a resolution to these disputes by approximately exactly the same solution which continues to be supported by the Arab states today. But rather than explain it, I’ll just cite it:

 

“Guyana, Pakistan, Panama and United Republic of Tanzania:
Draft resolution

The Security Council,

Having considered the item entitled “The question of the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights”, in accordance with the request contained in paragraph 8 of General Assembly resolution 3376 (XXX) of 10 November 1975,

Having heard the representatives of the parties concerned, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, representative of the Palestinian people,

Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (documents S/12090 ), transmitted to the Security Council in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 7 of General Assembly resolution 3376 (XXX),

Deeply concerned that no just solution to the problem of Palestine has been achieved, and that this problem therefore continues to aggravate the Arab-Israeli conflict, of which it is the core, and to endanger international peace and security,

Recognizing that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East cannot be established without the achievement, inter alia, of a just solution of the problem of Palestine on the basis of the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,

1. Takes note of the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document S/12090);

2. Affirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right of return and the right to national independence and sovereignty in Palestine, in accordance with Charter of the United Nations.”

 

 

 

While it would probably help, you don’t need to be an international lawyer to understand what is going on in this document. What is astounding is that it reads as if it had been written today – the situation has changed but so slightly. Some of the actors are different (notably, the PLO has been successfully marginalized by Israel, leaving the far more reasonable religious radicals to speak for Palestine), but the content of what a solution would look like remains the same. And, moreover, if we look at the way states voted on this resolution, we find that hasn’t changed much either:

The Security Council on 29 June 1976 voted on the draft resolution as follows:

In favour: Benin, China, Guyana, Japan, Pakistan, Panama, Libyan Arab Republic, United Republic of Tanzania, Romania, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Against: United States of America.
Abstained: France, Italy, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Sweden.

What this shows is that US client states have two options: vote with the US, or abstain. The abstention, therefore, of Western European states can be read as the strongest show of support for the the solution as they could manage. The vote against (a veto) by the USA marks an early instance of what has become a long history of obstructing peace in the region.

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