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Elliott Morss has spent most of his career teaching and working as an economic consultant to developing countries on issues of trade, finance, and environmental preservation.

Dr. Morss received a B.A. from Williams College in 1960 and a Ph.D. in political economy from The Johns Hopkins ... more

The Latest UN Security Council Condemnation of Israel – A Little History

Date: Saturday, December 24, 2016 1:40 PM EDT

Elliott R. Morss, Ph.D.                             ©All Rights Reserved


On Friday, the UN Security Council voted, with the US abstaining, to again condemn Israel. From the text of Resolution 2334:

“[The Security Council]

1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;

3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;

4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperiling the two-State solution….”

The US Abstention

The US action was immediately criticized by a wide range of actors:

President Elect Donald Trump: “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “This provocative action by the United Nations is an outrage and must be dealt with sternly and forcefully. If the United Nations moves forward with the ill-conceived resolution, I will work to form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce United States assistance to the United Nations.”

Charles Schumer (D-NY): “Whatever one’s views are on settlements, anyone who cares about the future of Israel and peace in the region knows that the UN, with its onesidedness, is exactly the wrong forum to bring about peace. I have spoken directly to the Administration numerous times … and in the strongest terms possible urged them to veto this resolution. I am strongly opposed to the UN putting pressure on Israel through one-sided resolutions.

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Elliott Morss 3 years ago Author's comment

Carol, Mary, Dick, Craig, Philip and Bill:

Thanks for your comments. I always learn a lot when discussing controversial issues when those involved show a degree of mutual respect.

I take the point made by many of you that the Arab world (and Iran) have been very bad actors. I But I view Israel as truly special. As I mentioned, the Security Council has condemned Israel 29 times for aggressive acts. No other country comes close. And in those votes, the US either voted for the condemnation or abstained (as it just did again).

And it is hard to argue the Security Council is a group controlled by Arab nations. The five permanent members who have veto power are the US, the UK, China, France, and Russia. Are they anti-Israel? The other members are drawn from 5 separate reasons: Latin America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific. There is no reason to think these Security Council members should be anti-Israel without cause.

I often think what if either Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter could have worked out a two-state solution with Israel and the Palestinians. How different the world would be now! It appears from a reading of Bin Laden’s diaries that much of his anger stemmed from hating the US because of how protective it was of Israel. And projecting that to the current time, it is quite likely that a significant amount of today’s terrorism springs from that same anger.

I do think it is important to ask why was the US so protective of the Israel so as to generate so much anger among Arab nations and Iran. And here, I do believe the definitive piece was written by Mearsheimer and Walt, tenured professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard, respectively. They argue, and I believe convincingly, that the Jewish Lobby has been so effective as to get in the way of what US foreign policy should be. In short, they argue the lobby got Congress to be so pro-Israel as to anger other Middle Eastern countries.

Well, we are where we are today. What can be done? I do not believe a two-state solution is achievable with Netanyahu in power. That means much time will have to pass before anything meaningful can be done to remedy the situation. And of course, it is not as if the Palestinians have their act together….

Bill: I was thinking of the past. I do not think that today, Israel is as aggressive as other Middle East nations. Once the US invaded Iraq, the entire ME became destabilized and certainly more aggressive players emerged.

Dick: See my comments above on the UN. You are right peace cannot be forced. But I do not think the UN Security Council vote had anything to do with trying to force peace. It was merely an attempt to get Israel to stop building settlements in lands intended to be part of the Palestinian state.

Carol: I have read your response. Thanks for some corrections. I tried to address some of your points in the body of my comment above.

Carol Klein 3 years ago Member's comment

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree that I don't think Bibi is particularly interested in a 2-state solution, but I think that's simply because previous Prime Ministers offerd so much more than he'd be willing to offer and even they were told no. And that the Palestinians seem more interested in violence than peace. In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barack shocked the world (and angered many Israelis) by agreeing to all Palestinian demands for peace and yet Yasir Arafat still said no.

Bill Clinton and many others firmly laid the blame on Arafat for this. Even Arafat was surprised that Barack would be willing to give in to all demands - even giving up part of sacred Jerusalem. But his response was that all rhetoric aside, if he actually made peace with Israel, he woudl be assinated. Arafat had also made many speeches (in Arabic) stating clearly that he was following Mohammed's example and offering peace only as a ruse to secure more land from which to launch a war.

It's difficult to have peace when neither side trusts the other.

Philip Brooke 3 years ago Member's comment

If that link doesn't work, search You Tube for this title" The Six Day War 1967 Documentary

Philip Brooke 3 years ago Member's comment

Israel was the defender not the aggressor in 1967. If you want an excellent history of the 1967, 6 day war, watch this:


Gary Anderson 3 years ago Contributor's comment

Regardless of perceived threats by Israel, the whole reason for anger in the mideast is Israel's refusal to allow the two state solution that it agreed to. Israel says the Palestinians are not an occupied people but then refuses a state for them. Common sense is that this is an occupation. Anyone can see plainly that it is an occupation. And being an occupation, adding your own people to occupied land is a war crime. Israel has committed thousands of war crimes when the US was there to protect that nation at every turn. Now we are getting weary, as is the world. 60+ years off occupation is just beyond anything that is moral and just.

Black Widow 3 years ago Member's comment

I was curious to watch this video but it says it is not available in my country (the US).

Philip Brooke 3 years ago Member's comment

Search in You Tube for this title" The Six Day War 1967 Documentary

Carol Klein 3 years ago Member's comment

It pains me to say this as I generally enjoy your work, but in this case I fear your lack of historical knowledge and/or possible bias (intentional or not) seems evident in this post. Let me respectfully take it piece by piece to give you an opposing viewpoint.

1. Almost your entire argument hinges on the fact that since the UN condemned Israel, they must be the aggressor. That would be like saying the US was the aggressor on 9/11 if the UN said so. It's only valid if the UN can be viewed as an honest, unbiased broker which it is not. It's no secret that the UN's policies are determined by politics and horse trading. With so many Arab countries and other states who couldn't care less about Israel willing to trade votes for matters they actually do care about, it's become nothing more than a platform to constantly incite against Israel. Not to mention European countries with burgeoning Arab populations and Arab Oil can influence many votes as well. More proof of this is below...

How can the UN be a neutral/fair venue when out of all the counties in the world, only ONE - Israel is not allowed to be on the security council. That's right, countries such as North Korea, Syria and Iran can be, but not Israel. These countries can also head the Human Rights council, even though these countries have the worst records on the books. Israel is the ONLY country which, as a matter policy, must be reviewed at every single UN Human Rights session. Countries which have murdered its own people by the thousands are completely ignored. It's sad that the UN does nothing to protect these people and instead focus on a country which every day is struggling to survive against those who wish to destroy it. Probably the most notorious, blatant bias was the infamous 1975 "Zionism equals racism" Resolution 3379. In 2014, the UN issued 23 condemnations. Out of the entire world, 20 out of these 23 condemnations were against little Israel. My God, Israel must be the most deplorable country on Earth. Yet all the abuses and terror we've seen in the rest of the world went completely ignored. It's as if all the UN does is watch Israel all day long and ignore all other suffering, including when Israel itself is attached. It is hard to dispute this bias, but if you want more evidence, UN Watch (unwatch.org) has done an excellent job of documenting this bias over the years.

2. Israel, which has had a Jewish presence for the last 3000 years was controlled by the British at the time, was offered to be split between the Jews and Arabs. The Jews accepted the Partition Plan, the Arabs rejected it and instead declared war and invaded the country slaughtering Jews wherever they found them. But the Jews, many of whom had just escaped Hitler's ovens, won a surprising victory. At no other time has a people declared war, lost and then cried foul. It is a fact that the US did not help Israel at all during this war and refused to supply or even sell them weapons. They had to buy them from Czechoslovakia!

3. While it is generally assumed that Israel has nuclear weapons, this has never been confirmed and Israel maintains ambiguity on this matter. However, again it was not the US as you said, but rather France who helped Israel with its defensive nuclear capabilities.

4. To imply that Israel started the 1967 war is both disingenuous and a betrayal of actual history. It was well known that an attack on Israel was imminent and the Arab countries don't deny this, so why would you? Egypt even announced they were going to attack and ordered peace keeping troops out of the Sinai - and though you say Israel's allies won't let anything happen to it, all these troops simply got up and left, freeing up Egypt to invade. Israel's well timed preemptive attack to destroy Egypt's Air Force while the planes were still on the ground help to keep the war short, and likely saved countless lives. No other country would have acted differently.

5. The US has vetoed past resolutions because Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and the only country that shares America's values. We fund countless Arab countries that don't exactly try to hide the fact that they'd be happy if our country went up in flames. The US also recognize that condemning Israel serves no purpose than to reward terrorism. Blaming on it on some “all powerful” Israel Lobby or some grand Zionist scheme is something out of the Protocols of Zion and a common tale spread by those who wish to discredit Israel. Don't help them by spreading this lie.. I'd say many lobbyist groups are far more effective. From insuring that that unhealthy food, cigarettes are weapons are sold. For example, the fact that anyone can go to a gun show and buy an automatic assault rifle without any background checks is thanks to the gun lobby. In this case, America knows that Israel is on the front lines of fighting terror and are the only country in the Middle East which has our back.

But Israel can't always rely on the it's allies to protect it. Just as they refused to sell Israel weapons in '48 when they were attacked by five well armed Arab armies. Just as they abandoned Israel when Egypt and other countries announced they would invade in '67 and even just now as Obama has turned his back on Israel. It's very difficult to entrust that America will always protect it. And if Iran nukes Israel, whether Obama would retaliate in kind (which I doubt- he's ignored his own red lines before, i.e. Syria), it will be little comfort to the nuclear wasteland formerly known as Israel.

6. Yes, American gives Israel more aid than any other country in the Middle East. But Israel is the only non-Arab country in the ME. If you add up all the aid the US sends to Arab countries in the Middle East, it far exceeds what Israel earns! Israel's aid is a drop in the bucket and 100% of it must be spent on American products - so it goes right back into our economy. Arab's aid often ends up in lining corrupt politicians pockets or worse, funds the incitement of terror. These are countries that often work against America's own interests.

7. Violence in the Middle East has nothing to do with a perceived US bias against Israel. The Middle East has been a hot bed of violent extremism since long before Israel or even the US was a country. And it’s far more violent outside of Israel – Arab dictators kill far more of their own people than Israel ever has. And look how violent Isis has become in Iraq and other neighboring countries. Again, blaming Israel is shameful and disingenuous. The most common mistake American make is thinking that Middle Easterners have Western values and aspirations but it’s a very different cultural mentality over there.

I realize you won't like me disagreeing with you or calling you out on various inaccuracies but I do so in hopes that you realize that some of your fundamental facts are either wrong, or the sources where you found them were skewed by bias or cherry picked to leave out relevant and critical facts. Thanks for taking the time to read my response.

Gary Anderson 3 years ago Contributor's comment

You don't need the protocols of Zion to believe that Israel pulls a lot of strings in the world. However, perhaps it pulls fewer strings now than in the past. Only time will tell, Carol. No other nation would have gotten away with 60 years of occupation, however.

Dragan 3 years ago Member's comment

What u Americans did to the Indians was far worse. Perhaps you should all leave

Gary Anderson 3 years ago Contributor's comment

Good point Dragan, what Americans did to the native Indians here was at least as bad, maybe worse. However, no one is saying that Israelis should leave the middle east. Just work out a two state solution. The idea of manifest destiny was strong in the US and is strong in Israel. It wasn't right to destroy Indian rights and it isn't right to steal land that belongs to the Palestinians. I remember my adopted mother receiving payment in restitution from the state of California for being part native American. America acknowledges the injustice against native Americans. I don't think Netanyahu has ever felt that compassion.

Haidar Javed 3 years ago Member's comment

its strange how israel feels it is above the law. it needs to change

Charles Howard 3 years ago Member's comment

Haidar Javed, can you elaborate on your comment?

Haidar Javed 3 years ago Member's comment

1)israel wants out of the UN

2)israel cuts aid and political ties to those who voted against israel - ie; senegal, new zealand etc etc

3)israel has broken the most rules set by UN

4)yet they feel they are victims? they need to stop breaking the law

5) why should the US stick up for them? is it some divine right that the US holds there hand along the way?

Angry Old Lady 3 years ago Member's comment

The situation in the Middle East is a very complex situation. Any one who says that one side or the other is 100% at fault doesn't understand that complexity or can't overlook inherent biases. It's easy to want to simplify the situation by blaming only one side, but if we want to be honest with ourselves, we'll have to admit that both sides can and should do more. But trust is needed and currently it is at one of the lowest points it has ever been.

Bill Johnson 3 years ago Member's comment

Every country has a right to defend itself from constant, almost daily attacks.

Haidar Javed 3 years ago Member's comment

so building homes that are deemed illegal makes it ok?

doing this spurs on aggression.

and when the UN goes against Israel- they view at as some silly conspiracy.

its about time someone stands up to israel

Craig Newman 3 years ago Member's comment

Who says it's illegal? The UN? The UN is kind of a joke, woudln't you say? It's resolutions have more to do with politics than reality. I can say it's illegal for you to live in your own home, that doens't it make it the case. The Jews lived there long before the Palestinian, and then won the rest fair and sqaure when they were attacked.

Elliott Morss 3 years ago Author's comment


Thanks for your comment.

My view:

The US stands ready to act swiftly if any country tries to take over any part of Israel. And all countries know this so it won't happen.

What stands out in the Middle East are the aggressive actions of Israel.

Israel seized and now holds lands of Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

The International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the "Occupying Power". UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called Israel's occupation "an affront to international law."

Dick Kaplan 3 years ago Member's comment

Interesting read and while I respect your viewpoint, I'd have to disagree that the UN is an unbiased party when it comes to the Middle East (or pretty much anything else). So utilizing them in your arguments doesn't really bolster your cause. Besides peace can not be forced, but rather nurtured. People have to put down their weapons and talk. Not try to force a peace on those who don't want it.

Mary Connors 3 years ago Member's comment

I agree. Palestinians need to stop inciting hate and a racist agenda. Did you know US tax payers pay for Palestinian text books which don't even have Israel on the map, and have math questions about killing Jews? It's something out of Nazi Germany! They even have a fake mickey mouse TV show teaching children how to murder Jews! (no joke - Google it)!

If the next generation is taught nothing but hate, how will there ever be peace? And they celebrate terrorists who murder children - they have celebrations, name streets after them. This must stop - Israel can't expect to negotiate peace with a gun constantly to their heads. May this new year finally see an end to the bloodshed! Amen.

Craig Newman 3 years ago Member's comment

And there are many others who would disagree with that assessment. There are always two sides to every story, wouldn't you say? Countries who have attacked Israel and lost territory can't then complain about it? It would be like if when Russia invaded the Crimea, the Ukraine had repelled the attack and Russia lost territory as a result.

But you are also incorrect in your comment. Israel doesn't hold any Egyptian land. They gave the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for peace. They tried to return Gaza as well, but Egypt didn't want it. They tried to give it to the Palestinians in exchange for peace but they refused. So they unilaterally withdrew.

Jordan gave up its rights to the West Bank and does not want it back. Israel gave away most of it to Palestinian self-control and is willing to negotiate the rest for peace. But it's worth mentioning that all holy sites were closed to other religions while under the control of the Arabs. The Jews holiest site - the Western Wall, were turned into stables and latrines. Under Israel, all religions have access to their holiest sites.

Israel has also expressed returning the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace but Syria has refused to negotiate at all. And frankly, with Syria murdering it's own people right and left, it's probably for the best.

I don't have a problem with your not sharing my views or beliefs.... to each their own. But I think it is important to have all the facts down. There's a lot of misinformation out there and hidden agendas.

Bill Johnson 3 years ago Member's comment

Seriously? "What stands out in the Middle East are the aggressive actions of Israel?" Have you heard of Aleppo? Your selective biased view is truly astounding.

Elliott Morss 3 years ago Author's comment

Bill: My views might be different than yours. But I draw the line at personal insults such as "Your selective biased view is truly astounding." If we cannot discuss these matters with a degree of mutual respect, the dialogue is pointless.

Bill Johnson 3 years ago Member's comment

My apologies Elliott, I didn't mean to come off sounding so harsh, especially considering I'm generally a fan of your work. I was just truly taken aback by that statement.

To say Israel is the most aggressive in the region simply flies in the face of reality. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Other Middle Eastern countries are run by despots and dictators who limit free speech, persecute women, minorities, homosexuals and more and murder their people at whim. To say Israel is more aggressive than Syria or ISIS? I just don't understand how anyone can say that with a straight face. If I misinterpreted your statement, please tell me, but it sounded pretty straight forward. If that's what you truly believe, we can agree to disagree.