Twelve of the fifteen members of the United Nations Security Council have apparently had a major rethink on the terms of Resolution 2334 which they approved 14:0 on 23 December 2016 with only America abstaining.
They were among those who issued the Joint Declaration following the Paris Conference held on 15 January – attended by delegations from 70 countries, the United Nations, the European Commission, the European Union, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Thirteen of the fifteen Security Council member States were in Paris including its five Permanent Members – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States.
Absent were New Zealand and Malaysia – two of the four sponsors of Resolution 2334.
The Joint Declaration differs substantially from Resolution 2334 in three fundamental respects:
1. Resolution 2334 envisages a region where:
“two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders”
The Joint Declaration shredded this objective by affirming:
“that a negotiated solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, is the only way to achieve enduring peace”
The “two democratic states solution” in Resolution 2334 was replaced by a vague and nebulous “two state solution” in the Joint Declaration. Gone were secure and recognised boundaries.
2. Resolution 2334 aims to achieve:
“without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967”
The Joint Declaration more specifically calls for the resolution of:
“all permanent status issues on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973)”
The Quartet Roadmap – so painstakingly put together in 2003 by President Bush calling for negotiations to create a democratic Palestinian State – and under which negotiations had been conducted since then – was unceremoniously dumped in Paris.
This leaves no agreed negotiating framework under which to conduct any resumed negotiations.
3. Resolution 2234 underscored:
“the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative”
The Joint Declaration underscored:
“the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 as a comprehensive framework for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, thus contributing to regional peace and security.”
Israel had agreed to negotiate under the Quartet Roadmap but listed 14 reservations – one of which required:
“The removal of references other than 242 and 338 (1397, the Saudi Initiative and the Arab Initiative adopted in Beirut). A settlement based upon the road map will be an autonomous settlement that derives its validity therefrom. The only possible reference should be to Resolutions 242 and 338, and then only as an outline for the conduct of future negotiations on a permanent settlement.”
Replacing the Quartet Roadmap with the Arab Peace Initiative guarantees no hope for the stalled negotiations to be resumed.The United Kingdom refused to endorse the Joint Declaration.
It is incredible that the other twelve Security Council member States present – especially the five permanent members – could approve the terms of the Joint Declaration that so materially changes what they voted for or abstained on just three weeks earlier.
They obviously engaged in cherry picking bits and pieces of Resolution 2334 that they had rushed through with unseemly haste and now have second thoughts on.
A new agreed negotiating framework for any two-State solution now needs to be constructed to replace the trashed Quartet Roadmap.
The Security Council looks decidedly stupid and increasingly irrelevant.