Middle East Monitor / September 24, 2023
The Israeli Government Press Office reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advised UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “change the attitude of the organization’s institution towards the State of Israel.” If the UN and its institutions were to truly alter their approach in line with international law and human rights, Israel would not recognize itself after the decolonization process.
What Netanyahu is aiming for, however, is to curb the futile criticism of Israel. As the normalization agreements bring Arab countries cooperatively closer to Israel, Netanyahu’s expectation is that the UN ceases even its perfunctory nods towards the perpetual violations of international law. The Abraham Accords have been perceived as bridging a gap between the UN and Arab countries that normalize relations with Israel regardless of colonialism. For Netanyahu, completely ceasing all criticism of Israel would be a welcome step, even if the UN’s criticism is regularly juxtaposed against Israel’s purported right to defend itself.
Netanyahu’s speech at the UN General Assembly, for example, reflected the importance being given to the Abraham Accords. Since the two-state paradigm is defunct, the Abraham Accords are stealthily taking precedence, while validating Netanyahu’s words that Palestine is no longer a priority for Arab leaders, in much the same way it is not a priority for the international community. “Israel can become a bridge of peace and prosperity. Peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia will create a new Middle East,” Netanyahu stated. The message that the Abraham Accords can change diplomacy is being promoted; also that the UN should take note of the developments. For Netanyahu, the normalization agreements signal further oblivion when it comes to Palestine – which is also what Israel wishes to achieve when it raises the unfounded allegations of anti-Israel bias at the UN.
If the UN were to take Netanyahu’s words seriously, a change in the international community’s attitude and policies towards Israel would bring about much welcome change for Palestinians. Netanyahu and Israeli diplomats regularly accuse the UN of anti-Israel and antisemitic bias – none of which hold any ground. Israel has conflated criticism against its international law violations with antisemitism, even though the issue at stake is the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land, which is what the Zionist ideology has been striving to achieve since prior to Israel’s establishment. When the UN speaks out, just as an obligation not out of political conviction, against Israeli international law violations, Israel can fabricate a narrative of antisemitism alongside anti-Israeli bias out of such criticism, based upon the settler-colonial enterprise’s own definition of being a Jewish state.
The UN should indeed change its attitude towards Israel. Non-binding resolutions do not work. Neither does the UN’s weak chastisement of Israel’s international law violations. If the UN truly safeguarded human rights, Guterres would have had much to say on the hypocrisy of Israel accusing its biggest collective international ally of being biased against settler-colonialism in Palestine. After all, the UN acknowledged the settler-colonial enterprise as a state at the expense of the dispossessed and colonized Palestinian population. However, what Netanyahu is aiming at is a wider acceptance of the normalization agreements, to the point that silence over international law violations is completely maintained.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America