(CNSNews.com) – While millions were following the impeachment drama on Capitol Hill and the momentous British general election results on Friday, the U.N. General Assembly was focused on its own priorities, adopting eight resolutions condemning or singling out Israel.
Most of the vote counts were extremely lopsided, with the United States and Israel alone voting against all eight, joined in some cases by a small handful of other countries.
The eight were among 35 resolutions passed during the day, although none of the others targeted one specific country. Most dealt broadly with decolonization issues and “non-self-governing” territories.
“The U.N.’s assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based non-governmental organization UN Watch.
Four of the resolutions related in various ways to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – the agency for Palestinian refugees – with one extending its mandate until 2023.
The Trump administration last year prevented $360 million in taxpayer dollars from going to UNRWA, saying that the U.S. would “no longer commit to no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation.”
Already deprived of its biggest donor, UNRWA then saw several others suspend funding this year, in response to allegations of serious corruption that included sexual misconduct and nepotism, and last month resulted in the resignation of UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl.
The resolutions passed by the General Assembly on Friday focused not on the alleged corruption, however, but instead painted UNRWA as a victim of financial pressures. One of the texts expressed “grave concern over attempts to discredit the agency despite its proven operational capacity.”
The four resolutions passed by votes of 169-2, 162-7, 163-6, and 167-6. Joining the U.S. and Israel in voting against three of them were Canada, Marshall Islands, and Micronesia (all three), Nauru (twice), and Papua New Guinea and Kiribati (once each.)
Another of the eight resolutions passed on Friday was the annual “occupied Syrian Golan” text, which comes around each year notwithstanding the significant upheavals and political changes brought about by the civil war in Syria since 2011.
The text each year is silent on the abuses and the massive loss of life attributed to the Assad regime and other belligerents.
It does, however, demand that Israel stop “its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan” and calls on Israel to return the territory to Syria. (Israel captured the Golan during the 1967 Six Day War and annexed it in 1981.)
After abstaining in the “Syrian Golan” vote for 22 years, the U.S. last year changed its position to “no,” and last March President Trump in a proclamation recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.
Friday’s vote in favor of the resolution, which was drafted and co-sponsored by the Assad regime, was 157-2 (the United States and Israel), with 20 abstentions.
Neuer called the resolution “obscene.”
“After the Syrian regime has killed half a million of its own people, how can the U.N. call for more people to be handed over to Assad’s rule?” he asked. “The text is morally galling, and logically absurd.”
The other three Israel-focused resolutions passed by the General Assembly on Friday were:
--A text relating to a special committee investigating Israeli human rights practices (passed by 81-13, with 80 abstentions)
--A text relating to Israeli settlements in disputed territory (passed 157-7, with 15 abstentions)
--A text relating to “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people” (passed by 157-9, with 13 abstentions)
In those votes, the U.S. and Israel were joined in voting “no” in all three by Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Nauru; in two of the three by Australia, Guatemala, and Papua New Guinea; and in one of the three by Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Hungary, and Kiribati.
“The U.N.’s disproportionate assault against the Jewish state undermines the institutional credibility of what is supposed to be an impartial international body,” said Neuer.
Millions of ‘Palestinian refugees’
UNRWA was stoking controversy long before the corruption charges that plagued it this year.
Every refugee situation in the world is dealt with by the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR – except for the Palestinian one, an anomaly that the agency itself celebrates as “unique.”
Also unique is the way UNRWA defines a Palestinian refugee, and over the decades the number of people falling under its mandate has grown exponentially.
“When the agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees,” says UNRWA. “Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.”
They live in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria – and in Jordan, where two million have acquired Jordanian citizenship.
The 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention states that refugee status ceases to apply where a person “has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.”
In the case of the Palestinians, however, UNRWA considers those in Jordan as refugees even if they have acquired Jordanian citizenship.
The official Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics puts the total number of Palestinian refugees at six million, and says 64 percent of the population of the Gaza Strip today defined as refugees – despite the fact the Gaza Strip has been under exclusive Palestinian rule since 2005.