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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

What does the December 23, 2016 UN Security Council Resolution contribute to the peace process?

Filed under: Jerusalem, Palestinians, Peace Process, Settlements, U.S. Policy

The UN Is Ignoring the Real Violators of the Geneva Convention Who Are Changing the Demographic Makeup of Syria

Beside the fact that the UN Security Council resolution contributes nothing to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and makes the eventual achievement of some kind of reconciliation between the two sides much more difficult, there is yet another factor here that makes this whole resolution particularly irksome. The resolution deals with the question of the legality of Israeli settlements and tries to establish, as though the Security Council is an international court, whether the settlements are legal or not.

Its major reference point to make that determination is the 1949 4th Geneva Convention which deals with territories and populations captured in the course of war. Now the 1949 4th Geneva Convention was adopted in the aftermath of the Second World War when the Axis powers were seizing territories, particularly the German army, throwing out the populations that lived there and bringing in, even forcibly, German citizens to live in those areas. The authors of the 4th Geneva Convention sought to prevent that from ever occurring again.

When Israeli legal experts saw that Israel was being charged with violating the 4th Geneva Convention, they argued that it is not even applicable to the Israeli case. What, we’re forcibly throwing the Arab population out of the West Bank? No. And are we pushing Israelis into the West Bank? It’s not at all relevant.

But where are the principles of the 4th Geneva Convention very much relevant and where are they not being applied? Just north of the State of Israel is Syria. What you have in Syria is the army of President Bashar al-Assad, with their Iranian and Russian allies, forcing mass expulsions of the Sunni Arab population of that country. Many have moved into Turkey, many have moved into other Arab states,

And they are not just leaving it with the eviction of the Sunni Arab population. They are bringing in Shiite population, mostly from Iraq, but there are also Shiites coming from Pakistan and from Afghanistan. In short, the demographic balance inside of Syria is being altered. To what end? The Iranians clearly want a Shiite belt from their western border across Syria and Iraq to Lebanon and to the Mediterranean. This will serve Iran’s interests in creating conditions for Iranian hegemony in the Middle East.

So while the UN Security Council is discussing so-called violations of the 4th Geneva Convention by Israel, and determining that Israel is violating international law – which it isn’t – they are ignoring the real violators of the 4th Geneva Convention who are changing the demographic makeup of the Syrian state to serve the interests of an expansionist country. For the UN to adopt a resolution on Israeli settlements while ignoring the changes going on in Syria is just unacceptable.