In the same week that a UN bloc of 135 countries, 80% of the world’s population, chose Palestine as its next leader, Israel was in for yet another blow.
Israel suffered an embarrassing setback in the UN when ECOSOC passed a resolution condemning the Jewish State for economic consequences of the occupation. Israel’s Danny Danon attempted – but failed – to have an amendment added which called for Hamas to return POWs. Instead, the EU proposed – and the body easily passed – an amendment that could apply to both Israel and Hamas returning captives.
It began with the UN Economic and Social Council on Tuesday passed a resolution that focused on “the social and economic consequences of the Israeli occupation,” which adopted a report that accused Israel of withholding the return of terrorist bodies. The reported completely ignored the civilians and bodies of Israeli soldiers currently being held by Hamas.
In response to the resolution, Israel’s UN Envoy Danny Danon proposed an amendment, supported by the US representative to ECOSOC, Ambassador Kelley Eckels Currie, that called for Hamas to immediately release the Israeli civilians and return the soldiers’ bodies.
In proposing the amendment, Danon said: “For four years, Hamas has withheld the bodies of Israeli soldiers and denied their families any information about their situation in violation of international law… The UN must condemn the crimes of the Hamas terrorist organization and call for the immediate release of the bodies of soldiers and civilians held in Gaza.”
The one-line amendment Israel introduced called “for the immediate release of the civilians and soldiers being held in Gaza by Hamas.”
Only five countries voted in favor of the Israeli amendment: the United States, Canada, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. Another 18 countries opposed the call to free Israeli captives.
Some 23 countries abstained, including all EU member states on the council; Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Spain and Britain.
The European Union proposed an alternatively worded amendment that did not name Hamas, and could equally be applied to Israel: “deploring the practice of withholding the bodies of those killed, and calling for the release of the bodies that have not yet been returned to their relatives.” The EU amendment was adopted by a majority of 45 to 2, with two abstentions.
After the vote, Ambassador Danon said: “Even as the UN fails, time and again, to condemn Hamas, the rules of the game are changing. These egregious anti-Israel decisions will not be tolerated, and we will continue to respond with counter-proposals. Today was ultimately about the crimes of Hamas, something we will not let the United Nations forget.”
The Palestinian representative told Danon, “You would have a much stronger argument if Israel was not withholding dozens of Palestinian bodies… This practice has been going on for years.”
[Editor’s note: Israel itself is reportedly holding the bodies of at least 26 Palestinians, and currently holds approximately 5,700 prisoners and detainees. (In fact, since 1967 Israel has detained over 800.000 Palestinians – upwards of 40% of the total male Palestinian population.)]
The Palestinian representative went on, “This is not an anti-Israel resolution. This is an anti-colonialism, pro-right to self determination resolution.
“It is because Israel has chosen to be a colonial power that it is criticized for its violations. If it makes a different choice, and the international community should push it and force it that direction, then the attitude and the resolutions would be extremely different,” the Palestinian representative said, adding, “Can the UN take any stance except being opposed to colonialism and in favor of the right of self-determination or should it make an exception because it is the Palestinians and the Palestinian people and it is Israel?”