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Resolution on Jerusalem is Another Example of How UN Undermines Itself With Obsessive Focus on Israel

December 22, 2017 - 9:00am

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. weighed in on the vote in the UN General Assembly criticizing the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In the introduction to today’s resolution, Yemen’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany, said that the “Israeli occupation is the source of all instability in the region.”

He could not have made it more obvious that today’s resolution was just another illustration of the unhealthy obsession with Israel at the UN.

Israel is not the source of the horrific Civil War ravaging Alyemany’s own country, Yemen, where decades of internal strife are now being inflamed by regional intervention from Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Israel was not the source of the Arab Spring that led to the overthrow of repressive autocratic regimes across the region and subsequent instability from unrealized promises of revolution.

Israel is not the source of the war in Syria in which the Assad regime, aligned with Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia, has killed more than half a million Syrians and displaced millions more. 

Today’s UN General Assembly vote is another example of this important international organization being sadly undermined by its obsessive focus on Israel.

Today’s resolution wrongly suggests that the president’s announcement on Jerusalem somehow, “altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

Recognizing that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital does not change the reality on the ground nor does it preclude direct negotiations that can lead to the establishment of a future Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel.

Nothing the U.S. said changes the importance of Jerusalem to the three monotheistic faiths, nor does it prevent the ability to practice one’s faith in the ancient city.

Tomorrow is the holiest day of the week in Islam and thousands of Muslims will continue to pray on the Temple Mount at the al Aqsa Mosque.

On Friday night and Saturday, thousands of Jews will welcome the Sabbath at the Western Wall, the Kotel.

And on Christmas Eve Sunday and on Christmas Monday, Christians will pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The president's announcement does not change the status quo in the Old City where the Islamic Waqf, under the custodianship of Jordan, manages the Muslim holy sites; the Israeli Rabbinate manages the Jewish holy sites; and Christian Churches manage the Christian holy sites.

That is why Ambassador Haley was right to vote against the resolution and to veto a similar resolution in the UN Security Council.

I hope that we can now move beyond this distraction and urgently return to a process that advances a sustainable two-state solution.

We need to see change at the UN. We need membership standards for the UN Human Rights Council so that human rights abusers cannot use the platform to hide their own human rights violations. And we need to reform the council by removing Standing Agenda Item 7 that is used to repeatedly target Israel instead of addressing real crises.

Ambassador Haley and I have spoken directly about the urgent need to make these changes. 

But in order to effect this change we must remain engaged at the UN. I hope America does not shy away from its critical role as a global leader at the UN and beyond. The best way to protect our national security and advance the interest of America and our allies is to be a leader on the world stage rather than retreating within our own borders.

First elected to Congress in 2010, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., is the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Middle East and North African Subcommittee. 



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