Palestinian Quest for Statehood and UN Resolution 377 Part 1

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Will the Palestinian Authority rely upon UN Resolution 377 -- also known as the "Uniting for Peace" resolution -- to achieve Palestinian statehood at the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September of this year?

Published On :
April 9, 2011

Last Updated :
April 9, 2011

NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.

Palestinian Quest For Statehood At United Nations, Potential Repercussions From The Establishment Of A Palestinian State, UN Resolution 377, Uniting For Peace, A Present Danger - What Israelis Fear Most, Israelis Claim Resolution 377 Is Illegal, Is 377 Contrary To The Intent Of UN Charter?, Does 377 Nullify Security Council Veto Power?, Jews Pressure USA To Use Its UN Veto, Limited Powers Of UN General Assembly, Weak Nature Of Non-Binding Resolutions, Security Council: Powerful Minority, UN Charter Article 27, Fifteen Votes Or Five?, Power Of Veto, Great Power Unanimity, UN Resolution 1973 And Libyan No-Fly Zone, UN Security Council Abstentions, Will USA Be Linchpin In The Palestinian Statehood UN Vote?, Negroponte Doctrine, A Palestinian UN Bluff Or The End Of The Line For Israel?, Obama's Middle East Fence-Mending, USA's Three Muslim Wars, Obama Is A Disappointment To Muslim World, Obama Wins Points With Israelis By Vetoing Resolution That Criticizes Israel, Obama's Options If Palestinian Statehood Comes To A UN Vote, Israelis And Palestinians Need Own National Homeland, Staunch Pro-Israel American Christians, Blinded By Jewish Propaganda, Israelis Milk American Christians For Their Tourist Dollars, Unholy Holy Land, Historical Backslidden Condition Of Israel, Israel Was And Still Is A Land Defiled By Rebellion And Sin

As you may have heard, due to their failure to achieve their aspirations of a bona fide, legally-recognized Palestinian State over the past few decades, which in large part can be attributed to the belligerence of the Jewish leadership, as well as to the violence of Hamas operatives, which have both contributed to the dismal failure of the Middle East peace process in recent years, for some time now, officials of the Palestinian National Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, have been publicly stating that they will seek recognition of a Palestinian State, directly from the United Nations General Assembly -- or UNGA -- during the upcoming 66th session of the General Assembly in September of this year.

If the Palestinians were to achieve statehood, and acquire membership in the United Nations General Assembly, it would likewise result in their gaining certain advantages in their dealings with Israel, being as it would place them on equal status as an official member of the UN body. There are some things which member states are simply not allowed to do to each other, such as occupy each other's territory. In a word, Israel could easily find itself in a legal predicament, and accused of engaging in acts of aggression against a fellow United Nations member. Not only that, but the establishment of a Palestinian State will no doubt have profound effects on the entire region of the Middle East, just as the youth revolutions in that region are doing at this current time.

For example, the corrupt, entrenched leaders of repressive, dictatorial regimes in the region would no longer be able to point to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to deflect criticism from their own governments, and radical elements in the region -- such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas -- would no longer be able to use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a means to inflame the passions of their followers. That is not all. A Palestinian victory at the United Nations could inspire other ethnic groups in the region -- for example, the Kurds of eastern Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, the Berbers of North Africa, etc. -- to seek their own path to independence and statehood. So again, the Palestinian quest for statehood at the United Nations merits our close attention.

The Palestinians place their hope in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 377 A (V) -- also known as the "Uniting for Peace" Resolution -- which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in November of 1950. The "Uniting for Peace" resolution -- which has since been incorporated into the "Rules of Procedure" of the General Assembly -- states the following in Section A Clause 1:

----- Begin Quote -----

"Resolves that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security. If not in session at the time, the General Assembly may meet in emergency special session within twenty-four hours of the request therefor. Such emergency special session shall be called if requested by the Security Council on the vote of any seven members, or by a majority of the Members of the United Nations;"

----- End Quote -----

Currently, the United Nations Security Council is comprised of five veto-wielding permanent members -- that is, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States -- as well as ten non-permanent members which are elected by the United Nations General Assembly for two-year terms. Because the United Nations Security Council has failed to take any concrete steps to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian feud, the Palestinian Authority has decided to go directly to the UNGA -- that is, the General Assembly -- to obtain recognition of a Palestinian State.

Please note that Resolution 377 -- or "Uniting for Peace" -- specifically states "or by a majority of the Members of the United Nations." In other words, if the UN Security Council is not willing to call an Emergency Special Session in order to discuss a particular issue, the members of the UN General Assembly have the right to call for such a session, if they represent a majority of the body's members; and that is what the Palestinians are counting on. At this current time, over one hundred nations which form a part of the one hundred and ninety-two member United Nations General Assembly recognize and support the legitimacy of a Palestinian State, and this number continues to grow on a regular basis. It is possible then that they will be able to call such an Emergency Special Session come September, in order to discuss the issues which have plagued the Israelis and the Palestinians for so long.

Please also notice that Resolution 377 specifically includes the phrase "threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression". That's precisely what the Israelis fear most. That phrase could very well be their noose -- and they know it -- if the Palestinians are victorious in September, and obtain UN recognition, and statehood. Resolution 377, along with that specific phrase, could force them entirely out of the Occupied Territories, whether they like it or not, and they most certainly wouldn't be allowed back in if that were to happen.

If you think that I am over-exaggerating this point, allow me to share something with you. While I was conducting research for this article, I visited a number of Jewish websites that discussed Resolution 377, and in each case, the author of the site expressed fear, worry or even went so far as to question the legality of UN Resolution 377. One site referred to it as "a present danger" and stated "The significance of the ruling cannot be overstated: It challenges the power of the veto. The UN Charter Does Not Support GA Resolution 377." In other words, because of the way that "Uniting For Peace", that is, UN Resolution 377, has been used to apply pressure to Israel, the Jews have adopted the legal position that it is illegal, and that it bestows upon the UN General Assembly powers to which it is not entitled. Most notably, it allows the General Assembly to bypass the UN Security Council when it fails to act, and to both legislate and adopt binding resolutions on its own. Incidentally, this same Jewish author accused the UN International Court of Justice of using UN Resolution 377 inappropriately as well.

It seems clear then that the Israelis are seriously afraid of how the Palestinians may use UN Resolution 377 to achieve their goal of statehood and UN recognition. If they weren't afraid, they would not be fighting so hard against 377. One way in which they're doing this is by pressuring the American government and impressing upon it that UN Resolution 377 is a threat to the American veto on the Security Council. In other words, they are claiming that contrary to the intent of the UN Charter, "Uniting for Peace" is being used by the UN General Assembly to override a Security Council veto, thus making a UNGA resolution binding and enforceable. As far as I can tell, the Jews are simply using legal jargon as a mechanism to try to save their own skins, and they want to use the USA as their big stick in the UN, as they've doing all along.

As we have already seen, whether or not the Palestinians have enough support in the UN General Assembly in order for an ESS, or Emergency Special Session, to be called is not the problem. The real question is this: Can the UN General Assembly really admit the Palestinian State to the United Nations as a regular member? Based upon my research -- and setting aside the debate regarding what is actually intended by UN Resolution 377 -- it seems to me -- keep in mind that I am no legal scholar -- that the answer is probably "no"; and therein lies the technical problem that the Palestinians must face; that is, if we accept the Israelis' argument that UN Resolution 377 cannot be used to legally circumvent the Security Council vote.

More specifically, in Chapter II, Article 4, Clause 2, the UN Charter states the following concerning membership in the United Nations:

----- Begin Quote -----

"The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

----- End Quote -----

Please notice the last seven words: "upon the recommendation of the Security Council". If I understand this correctly, it means that while the United Nations General Assembly can, in either a regular session, or in an Emergency Special Session, recognize and endorse a declaration of independence, such as the Palestinian Authority intends to do in September, it does not possess the legal power to actually admit the Palestinian State as a regular member of the United Nations, without a prior recommendation -- or resolution -- being adopted by the United Nations Security Council itself.

In other words, even if a majority of the members of the UN General Assembly call for an Emergency Special Session, and adopt a resolution in which they recognize Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, such recognition really has no legal teeth, insofar as United Nations laws and procedures are concerned, unless it is "blessed" by the United Nations Security Council first. It is precisely for this reason that so many United Nations resolutions that one reads about in the daily news are weak and to some degree meaningless. They are in reality symbolic gestures of support for a particular cause which do not carry any legal weight. In legal terms, they are not binding; they are not law; they amount to mere suggestions and recommendations. Furthermore, only those resolutions which are actually adopted by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter are binding and enforceable.

So the real problem for the Palestinians as they follow their quest for statehood and recognition by the United Nations is not the General Assembly, it is in fact the Security Council; because when all is said and done, the UN Security Council is a powerful minority which controls the majority in the United Nations General Assembly. While all one hundred and ninety-two members of the United Nations have the right to a single vote, it is actually fifteen votes -- and as we'll see in a moment, actually less -- which determines the outcome of every binding decision, and those are the only UN resolutions that actually matter, and which are recognized as international law.

Regardless of how much international support a particular issue or cause may garner in the UN General Assembly -- keep in mind the upcoming Palestinian quest for statehood -- it is made plain in Article 27 of the United Nations Charter that UN Security Council decisions on all major issues require an affirmative vote by at least nine of its fifteen members in order for a resolution to be adopted. Article 27 states as follows:

----- Begin Quote -----

1) Each member of the Security Council shall have one vote.

2) Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members.

3) Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.

----- End Quote -----

At first glance, one may possibly assume that acquiring nine of the possible fifteen United Nations Security Council votes may not be such an insurmountable obstacle for the Palestinian leadership; however, there is more. What is somewhat hidden in Article 27 is the implied "power of veto". In other words, while decisions regarding procedural matters can be determined by any nine of the fifteen UNSC members, please take notice of the fact that concerning "all other matters" -- meaning all of the important matters that really count, the substantive ones which pertain to essential legal principles and rules of right -- the nine votes must include "the concurring votes of the permanent members". Said another way, those nine votes must include all five permanent Security Council members. In other words, the five permanent members must be unanimous in their vote, along with four other members of the fifteen-member UN Security Council.

In plain English, even if a particular resolution -- such as the Palestinian quest for statehood -- receives the required nine affirmative votes in the Security Council, it can still be defeated by any one of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council. This special privilege that is possessed by China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States is referred to as the rule of "great power unanimity". To reiterate, if one or more of the five permanent members votes against a proposed resolution, that is the end of it. It is dead in the water, regardless of what the UN General Assembly thinks, or how the UNGA votes.

Of course, a permanent member of the UN Security Council does not necessarily have to veto a resolution if it doesn't agree with it. As a matter of strategy; a member may also decide to simply abstain from a vote if it so chooses. This is exactly what occurred recently with UN Resolution 1973 regarding the no-fly zone that's now being enforced in Libya. Brazil, China, Germany, India and Russia abstained from the vote. However, because the remaining three permanent members were unanimous in their vote, the resolution was adopted. If either China or Russia had vetoed the resolution, instead of abstaining from the vote, I believe that it would not have passed -- the rule of great power unanimity -- and the current no-fly zone over Libya would now be illegal. This was no doubt a very shrewd move on the part of the Russians and the Chinese, as it will obviously win them points with certain Arab nations.

So, assuming that the Palestinians are determined to press forward with their quest for UN recognition of a Palestinian State this coming September, what can we expect to happen?

While I am not a professional political analyst, and while I do not claim to be an expert when it comes to the affairs of the Middle East, from reading the news for many years now, as well as watching how the governments of certain nations have chosen to operate, and conducting a fair amount of research on the Internet, my personal inclination is to believe that the linchpin in any such United Nations resolution which may arise this coming September, will be President Barack Obama and the United States. Obviously, it doesn't take a genius to figure this out. As some of you will already know, the United States has a long history of supporting UN resolutions which assist Israel in some way, while at the same time, it has been quite consistent in vetoing those UN resolutions which criticize Israel, or which in some way may harm Israel.

This American pattern goes back to the early 1970's. Prior to that time, Russia -- then known as the USSR -- was by far the most frequent user of the veto as a member of the United Nations Security Council. However, as the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians has worsened over the last four decades, one American administration after another has relied more and more upon the power of the UN veto to protect Israel from her critics and enemies. With the implementation of the so-called Negroponte Doctrine during the George W. Bush administration, and the rise of the so-called Christian Right, the pro-Israel position became even more entrenched in both American politics, and in American society in general.

Exactly what is the Negroponte Doctrine? According to online sources, during a closed session of the UN Security Council that occurred on July 26, 2002, then US ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, disclosed the position of the United States regarding any UN resolution which sought to condemn the nation of Israel. In particular, Negroponte stated that the government of the United States would oppose any resolution which criticized Israel, but which did not also condemn known Palestinian terrorist organizations. Even though no official transcript of Negroponte's exact remarks has ever been made public, it is generally believed that he revealed that the following four stipulations must be met before the United States would support a UN resolution which condemns Israel:

1. A strong and explicit condemnation of all terrorism and incitement to terrorism;

2. A condemnation by name of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, groups that have claimed responsibility for suicide attacks on Israel;

3. An appeal to all parties for a political settlement of the crisis;

4. A demand for improvement of the security situation as a condition for any call for a withdrawal of Israeli armed forces to positions they held before the September 2000 start of the Second intifada Palestinian uprising.

As was to be expected, the staunch pro-Israel position which has been embraced by the American government has resulted in frequent friction between the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. Might this be a foreshadow of coming events in September, if and when the Palestinian National Authority declares Palestinian statehood? Of course, the Palestinians could be bluffing, and may simply be using the threat of a UN declaration to pressure the Israeli leadership, although I don't think so this time. They have endured literally decades of Israeli double-talk, procrastination, oppression, violence and land-grabbing. From what I have read, they are thoroughly fed up with the so-called "peace process". They want to see real movement and change on the ground, and that is precisely what September is all about.

What makes this upcoming situation difficult to call, is the fact that US President Obama is in need of some major image repair in the Middle East on both sides of the fence. On one hand, Israel does not perceive Barack Obama as a friend. It is common knowledge that Mr. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are not exactly bosom buddies. Of course, it didn't help that Netanyahu symbolically slapped American Vice President Biden in the face months ago. Yet at the same time, on the other hand, after a widely-publicized trip to Cairo, Egypt -- during which he called for a new beginning between the United States and the Arab/Muslim world following the disastrous Bush years -- Mr. Obama is now bombing Libya, albeit, supposedly with tacit approval from the Arab League.

Add to this the fact that American troops are still fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in the border areas of Pakistan, and it is safe to say that Obama has his share of critics amongst the Arab world as well. It is difficult to see the difference between George W. Bush and Obama, insofar as American foreign policy is concerned. While George W. Bush was more of a unilateralist who snubbed his nose at Europe, the UN and the rest of the world, the world will not easily forget that contrary to his promises, Mr. Obama has not only continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he has also engaged in a new war in Libya as well. Three American-led wars in three Muslim lands still looks bad, regardless of whether or not they have United Nations -- and even Arab League -- approval.

Taking into consideration my previous statements, I can only conclude that if, come September, the Obama administration chooses to instruct the American ambassador to the United Nations to veto any resolution which supports Palestinian statehood, it will be another step backward for the United States, insofar as the Arab world is concerned. In Arab eyes, such action will only serve to confirm that President Barack Obama is no different than his predecessors, despite the high hopes that the Arab world placed in him during the beginning of his term over two years ago.

In contrast, if his administration should choose to reject a vote supporting Palestinian statehood, Obama may win a few points with the Israelis. In fact, Obama probably garnered a few points with the Israelis on February 18th of this year when his administration vetoed a resolution which condemns ongoing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. I couldn't help but roll my eyes when I first read about it, because it was typical American behavior. Of the fifteen UN Security Council votes, the USA was the only nation to vote against it. Not only that, but the resolution had a total of one hundred and thirty co-sponsors. Despite that fact, the USA just had to go it alone and support Israel. One can only conclude that Obama considers winning points with the Jews more important than worrying about the ire of the United Nations General Assembly. Might this be a strong indication of which way Obama will turn when September arrives?

There is one other available option, and that is that Obama could engage in a compromise move by instructing the American ambassador to the UN to abstain from a UN Security Council vote concerning Palestine, assuming that there is one. Such an abstention would no doubt anger Israel, and the Israelis would feel betrayed; but what about the Palestinians? Well, an American abstention would no doubt be to their favor, and here's why: According to the UN Charter, an abstention by a UN Security Council permanent member doesn't count as a veto. Stated another way, if the remaining four permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with five of the rotating Security Council members -- they need nine votes -- were to vote in favor of Palestinian statehood, the resolution would in fact be adopted, and the Palestinians will have won.

As I explained a moment ago, this is precisely what happened with the resolution regarding a no-fly zone over Libya. Two of the UN Security Council permanent members -- Russia and China -- abstained from the vote. Their abstentions did not result in the resolution failing to be adopted; rather, the action of these two members did the exact opposite; that is, it allowed the no-fly zone resolution to be adopted, simply without their support or approval. In short, Barack Obama could possibly use the very same strategy. He could allow a resolution supporting Palestinian statehood to pass, just by abstaining from the vote.

By adopting this position, Obama wouldn't be directly voting against Israel, yet at the same time, he wouldn't be voting in favor of the Palestinians either. That is why I stated that it would be a compromise move. It would be a lukewarm position in the middle. The Israelis couldn't accuse him of directly voting against them, and the Palestinians couldn't claim he directly voted in their favor either. Now, some of you -- such as staunch pro-Israel supporters -- may wonder why Obama would even consider this option. My thoughts are the following:

Despite all of the violence and atrocities that some radical elements of Palestinian society have committed against the Israelis, and despite the equally violent, out-of-proportion retaliatory actions which have been taken by the Israelis against the Palestinians during the past six decades, if we brush aside all of the political rhetoric and propaganda, there remains a central, basic truth; and that is that -- as with everyone else in the world -- both peoples need to have a globally-recognized, national homeland. Obama knows this in his heart. The world knows this as well. Please notice that I said "need" and not "deserve". Considering how much violence both sides have committed against each other, I simply do not believe that using the word "deserve" is justified.

Now, even if you happen to be a staunch, Israel-supporting, American Christian, as some of my readers no doubt are, you know in your heart that what I have stated is true. I hope that you have not been so brainwashed by American-Jewish, Christian Right political propaganda, that you believe that Israel can absolutely do no wrong. If you are of that frame of mind, then I suggest that you compare the Israeli body count with the Palestinian body count over the years, and see who comes out the winner. Furthermore, if you believe that every single Palestinian wears an explosive vest under their coat and is just screaming for Jewish blood, then you might as well believe that every Israeli is a Mossad agent as well, who is just waiting to kill Palestinians. Both notions are equally ridiculous and the fabrication of propagandists.

If you fit into the previous category and are offended by my words, well, I'm sorry, but I can offer you no apologies. I am simply sick and tired of so many American Christians who have been drugged into a mindless stupor, so that all they seem to know how to do is parrot their political puppeteers, as well as their propaganda masters who promote Israel. All that some of you American Christians do is talk, talk, talk about Israel and the Jews, as if that is the most important thing in your lives. Maybe if some of you Israel-promoting Christians were to take the time to visit a number of the Jewish-run, anti-Christian missionary websites, and see what hardcore Jews really think, feel and say about our Christian faith, and how they viciously mock Jesus, you would finally wake up out of your Israel-supporting stupor.

The next time you take the bait and choose to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a tour to the "Holy Land", just remember one thing: Israel is simply another secular nation which has for the most part rejected Jesus Christ, just like so many Gentile nations of the world which embrace a variety of false religions, or no religion at all. There's really no difference. All the Israelis are doing is cashing in on their Biblical history at your expense, while at the same time, the vast majority of them mock and despise the very One who came to save them. In fact, as Jesus Himself stated, the Jews are even more guilty than the Gentile nations, because they were the first to receive the Light and the Truth, and they chose to reject it, as most of them continue to do to this very day.

If one takes some time to really study the Bible, and stops and thinks about it, he or she will realize that for most of its history, Israel has in fact been a very unholy land. As I explain in articles such as "The Fruits Of Disobedience", as far back as thousands of years ago, even during the time of the Patriarch Abraham, God warned that He would judge the Israelites because of their sins of unbelief and rebellion against Him. Tell me; what is the bulk of the Old Testament about? It's about the Lord's almost continuous chastisements against the Israelites through their enemies. It's about one Prophet of God after another who warned those hard-hearted, backslidden people to repent of their sins, and to return to the Lord. If you don't believe what I am saying, then you really don't know your Bible.

While the Jews today constantly promote Israel as being the "Holy Land" so that they can milk naive Christians of their tourist dollars, the truth of the matter is that even back then, according to God's own Word, they had defiled the land, and turned it into an abomination, due to their idolatry, and other perverse sins, including sacrificing their children to the false god Molech. Consider this example that is found in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah:

"And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination." Jeremiah 2:7, KJV

Is that the "Holy Land" that everyone is talking about? So the truth of the matter is that Israel was, and still is, a land that has been defiled by rebellion and sin, because to this day, most of the Jews continue to reject their Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Salvation that He offers them.

Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.

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