Following the adoption of a General Assembly resolution that refers to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, solely by its Muslim name, “Haram al-Sharif,” UN Watch managing editor Simon Plosker discussed the outcome on Israel’s ILTV.
ILTV: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are all Abrahamic faiths. So by logic alone, we can infer that the Temple Mount is important to all three peoples. Similarly, the resolutions condemning Israel for allegedly limiting freedom of religion and access to holy sites — another easily disproved claim. In fact, under Jordanian rule, Jewish sites and artifacts were destroyed and Jews were barred from entry into Jerusalem; while free expression under Israeli law is guaranteed. Why then are such obvious facts so difficult for the UN to admit?
UN Watch Managing Editor Simon Plosker: Unfortunately your question works on the assumption that obvious facts matter to the UN. You’ve got to remember that the UN is a political body; it’s not really interested in facts, but in advancing the political agendas of its member states. You could refer to the UN as a single institution, but its comprised of 193 separate member states, so when it comes to resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, these are nothing more than the political declarations of the UN’s member states and it’s not really about the facts at all.
Of course, when it comes to Israel, the UN is at Ground Zero in the delegitimization campaign against the Jewish state and erasing the Jewish connection to its holiest site is at the heart of this campaign.
Host: Now as I said, I believe there are 20 UNGA resolutions this year, 14, which is 70%, targeting Israel for admonition. Tell me about some of the other standout resolutions that passed, or are expected to pass. Who is sponsoring them, who is voting for and against them etc.?
SP: We had three resolutions passed yesterday including the one on Jerusalem, and another one on the Syrian Golan Heights — I mean I say the Syrian Golan Heights — of course it is under Israeli control, and many of these resolutions are sponsored by Arab and Muslim states for obvious reasons. Some are also co-sponsored by some of the worst human rights abusers in the UN such as Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and there’s going to be a whole batch of new resolutions that are going to be passed on December 9th. This is all part of an annual Israel bashing ritual at the United Nations.
Ultimately, I’m sorry to say, all of these resolutions are going to pass thanks to the built-in anti-Israel majority within the General Assembly. Unfortunately, there are only a few states such as the U.S., Canada, Australia, and some U.S.-allied Southern Pacific islands that will consistently side with Israel and vote against these one-sided resolutions. For many countries that may not have a particular interest in these issues, there is very little cost for voting against Israel; but it may just come in handy if you want the support of various blocks within the UN such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League, the Non-Aligned Movement, and other states that might use the Israel issue as a means to distract from their own human rights abuses.
Host: There’s been an apparent change in voting pattern since 2018 – more and more countries abstained from voting, including the UK — which was a big statement. What do you make of this supposed trend?
SP: Actually, we have created a database at UN Watch of these UN resolutions, which can be found at unwatch.org/database, and it actually shows the UN’s disproportionate focus on Israel and what other countries are being condemned by different UN bodies. As part of this, we also have petitions for each country where people can lobby their governments to change their votes on these Israel resolutions. As you pointed out, our work is paying off — some countries have begun to change their votes and this is the result of lobbying by individuals within each country, but it’s based on our data showing how the UN singles out Israel and treats it differently from all other countries.
Now what’s interesting is that, as you mentioned there are only expected to be 14 resolutions on Israel this year. Now I say “only,” it’s a large amount, but this is actually down from 17 last year and 19 or 20 in past. So, this is because the Palestinians are beginning to understand that they are losing support and they are being pressured by the European Union and others, so they have combined some resolutions together, and some of the resolutions are biannual. So, although the number of resolutions is going down, it’s still highly disproportionate and unfortunately, the European Union is still supporting most of them.
Now, you mentioned the UK before. I think it’s only fair to make it clear that the UK said it would have voted in favor of the Jerusalem resolution if it hadn’t been for the Temple Mount issue. The British ambassador even stated that even though the UK abstained, this didn’t actually reflect any policy change towards Jerusalem. Of course, the UK, like many other countries, doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli sovereignty.
So we are making progress — there is a long way to go, and really one of the things that we focus on is trying to change the votes of the democracies within the United Nations because that to us is important.