Israel points to Europes weakness as U.N. supports fence verdict

new york | When it comes to action at the United Nations, Europe — considered by many observers to be the organization’s moral bellwether — often decides the course.

That was the case again this week as the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution demanding that Israel comply with the International Court of Justice ruling that it must tear down its West Bank security barrier and compensate Palestinians affected by its construction.

The next question is whether the U.N. Security Council, whose resolutions are binding, will take up the issue.

The United States has indicated it will veto a Security Council resolution, but the Palestinians have said they’ll push it anyway.

The Israelis say they’re not worried about the Security Council because they know they can depend on a U.S. veto.

“The Security Council is the least of our worries,” said Arye Mekel, Israel’s deputy permanent representative at the United Nations, noting that a U.S. veto likely would obviate the threat of sanctions there.

Israel’s construction of its West Bank barrier went ahead full force.

Bulldozers and backhoes worked in Abu Dis — a Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem. Workers raised 26-foot-high concrete walls that are rapidly separating the Palestinian area from Jerusalem, a city that Abu Dis residents depend on for employment and other services.

For Israeli officials, the whole process points to the weakness of the Europeans.

In meetings with European diplomats this week, Israeli officials said they’ll make that point.

“If this is the position of the Europeans and the U.N., we will not be able to give them a role in carrying out the ‘road map,’ so they are creating a situation which is unacceptable to us,” Mekel said July 21.

The European Union and the United Nations are official partners, along with the United States and Russia, in the so-called “Quartet,” which is sponsoring the road map plan to get the dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on track.

Arguing that it might politicize the International Court and divert the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, European countries abstained from the General Assembly resolution last December asking the court to judge the legal consequences of Israel’s fence.

On July 9, the court ruled that the fence was illegal and ordered Israel to dismantle it.

Israel dismissed the court — which said international legal guarantees of self-defense were not relevant to Israel’s struggle against Palestinian terrorism — and said it would disregard the advisory opinion.

Again on July 20, Israel slammed the U.N. resolution. After that evening’s vote, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, told delegates, “Thank God the fate of Israel and the Jewish people is not decided in this hall.”

The vote was 150 in favor of the resolution and six against, with 10 abstentions. Joining Israel and the United States in voting against were Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Paulau. Abstaining were Cameroon, Canada, El Salvador, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Uganda, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

While the vote was widely expected, it was postponed twice as the Europeans sought to inject a modicum of balance into the Palestinian-led resolution.

In the end, the Europeans, unanimously supported the resolution after certain modifications.