The World Has Spoken


The UN General Assembly has now voted, by 138 votes to 9, with 41 abstentions and 5 no-shows, to recognize the existence as a state “of the State of Palestine on the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967”.

The “no” votes were cast by Israel, the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.

The Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau, all former components of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, are “freely associated states” of the United States, with U.S. zip/postal codes and “Compacts of Free Association” which require them to be guided by the United States in their foreign relations. They more closely resemble territories of the United States than genuine sovereign states – rather like the Cook Islands and Niue, “freely associated states” of New Zealand which make no claim to sovereign statehood and are not UN member states. They snuck into the UN in the flood of new members consequent upon the dissolutions of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, when the previous standards for admission were effectively ignored.

Nauru, a tiny island of 10,000 people in the central Pacific, has, since the exhaustion of the phosphate deposits which briefly made it the country with the world’s highest per capital income, had virtually no sources of income other than marketing its UN votes (reliably joining the United States in voting against Palestine) and diplomatic recognitions (joining Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela in recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia) and housing in tents aspiring illegal immigrants who had been hoping to reach Australia. It is a sad place, an island with no beaches, the world’s highest obesity rate and no real alternative to diplomatic prostitution.

Accordingly, only three “real” states joined Israel and the United States in voting against Palestine and the two-state solution: Canada, the Czech Republic and Panama. They must make their own excuses.

In population terms, the opponents of Palestine represent approximately 5% of the world’s population, 370 million out of over 7 billion, and, of those, the United States accounts for 314 million. It follows that countries with less than one percent of the world’s population supported the United States in this vote.

The 41 states abstaining in the vote were Albania, Andorra, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo (DRC), Croatia, Estonia, Fiji, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Togo, Tonga, the United Kingdom and Vanuatu.

It is worth noting (and a bit puzzling) that 15 of these states (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Congo (DRC), Hungary, Malawi, Mongolia, Montenegro, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Togo and Vanuatu) have extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine, although most of the formerly communist states of eastern Europe did so when they had communist governments.

They have been more than balanced out by the 28 states which have not yet recognized the State of Palestine but which voted in favor of Palestine: Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Eritrea, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago and Tuvalu.

The Japanese and Mexican votes in favor of Palestine mean that 18 of the 20 most populous states (all except the United States and Germany) voted in favor of Palestine.

Five states did not vote: Equatorial Guinea, Kiribati, Liberia, Madagascar and Ukraine. Kiribati is no surprise. For economic reasons, it is the only UN member state which does not maintain a permanent mission in New York. Why the other four, all of which have extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine, failed to push any of the three buttons is a mystery.

The European Union vote was 14 “yes”, 1 “no” and 12 abstentions. Aside from Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, all of the old “Western” members voted for Palestine. All ten of the new “Eastern” members (the three Baltic states, formerly part of the Soviet Union, the six former members of the Warsaw Pact and Slovenia) abstained or, in one case, voted against Palestine. These “Eastern” states have passed from domination by one empire to domination by another empire without ever daring to fully assert their independence. That said, all except the Czech Republic did at least dare to abstain.

It may take some time for the results of this vote to be fully digested. In the best of all possible worlds, one might hope that the United States would finally recognize that, on the issue of Palestine, it is totally divorced and isolated from the moral and ethical conscience of mankind and must now stop blocking progress toward peace with some measure of justice, step aside and permit other states with a genuine interest in actually achieving peace with some measure of justice to take the lead in helping Israelis and Palestinians to achieve it.

Since we do not live in the best of all possible worlds, and since Americans persist in believing that they are the “indispensable” nation, other states will need to make clear to the United States that its vote on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People has definitively disqualified it not only from its prior monopoly control over the “Middle East peace process” but even from any further role in it and that its further involvement in the preeminent moral issue facing the international community is no longer needed or wanted.

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration
John Wight
After Paris: Hypocrisy and Mendacity Writ Large
Joseph G. Ramsey
No Excuses, No Exceptions: the Moral Imperative to Offer Refuge
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies
Andrew Moss
The Message of Montgomery: 60 Years Later
Jim Green
James Hansen’s Nuclear Fantasies
Robert Koehler
The Absence of History in the Aftermath of Paris
Dave Lindorff
The US Media and Propaganda
Dave Randle
France and Martial Law
Gilbert Mercier
If We Are at War, Let’s Bring Back the Draft!
Alexey Malashenko
Putin’s Syrian Gambit
Binoy Kampmark
Closing the Door: US Politics and the Refugee Debate
Julian Vigo
A Brief Genealogy of Disappearance and Murder
John R. Hall
Stuck in the Middle With You
Barbara Nimri Aziz
McDonalds at 96th Street
David Rovics
At the Center of Rebellion: the Life and Music of Armand
Weekend Edition
November 20-22, 2015
Jason Hirthler
Paris and the Soldiers of the Caliphate: More War, More Blowback
Sam Husseini
The Left and Right Must Stop the Establishment’s Perpetual War Machine
Mike Whitney
Hillary’s War Whoop
Pepe Escobar
In the Fight Against ISIS, Russia Ain’t Taking No Prisoners
Ajamu Baraka
The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement
Andrew Levine
The Clintons are Coming, the Clintons are Coming!
Linda Pentz Gunter
Let’s Call Them What They Are: Climate Liars
Paul Street
Verging on Plutocracy? Getting Real About the Unelected Dictatorship
Nur Arafeh
Strangling the Palestinian Economy
Patrick Howlett-Martin
The Paris Attacks: a Chronicle Foretold
Vijay Prashad
Rebuilding Syria With BRICS and Mortar
Brian Cloughley
Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace