Boycott move buoyed by UN resolution

Vote also opens up the prospect of international prosecution against Israel over its colonisation policies

Image Credit: AFP
The UN Security Council votes on the Israel colony resolution.
Gulf News

Dubai: The international movement to boycott Israel business and sanction those who do business with the state has been given a huge shot in the arm by the passing on Friday night of an unprecedented United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the government for its continued colonisation of occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Resolution 2334 is the first such that has not been vetoed by the United States in 36 years, and Palestinian analysts, politicians and commentators contacted by Gulf News all agree it has changed the dynamics. And they said 2334 provides a solid legal base for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to expand.

“The resolution, in our opinion, achieves two important things,” said Mustafa Al Barghouti, a Palestinian politician and activist who is General Secretary of the Palestine National Initiative — also known as Al Mubadara.

“The first is that it offers a very solid legal base in favour of the expansion of the boycott movement and imposing sanctions,” he told Gulf News in an interview from the West Bank. “Now there is a legal foundation to reject any attempt to resist boycotts.”

“Secondly, the resolution itself offers a strong base to put Israel on trial in international courts — including the International Criminal Court,” he said.

Other Palestinian political scientists expressed similar views.

Sociologist Hunaida Ganem, director of West Bank-based Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies Madar, told Gulf News that the resolution is “very positive and a 100 per cent correct step in the right direction, removing the shroud of legitimacy on Israel colonisation activities, and supporting Palestinian diplomatic efforts”.

Speaking to Gulf News, she said that Resolution 2334 is “an important step in giving a push to all movements working against occupation, including those inside Israel,” noted Ganem, a Palestinian from the 1948 areas. She stressed that the resolution strongly supports the arguments of all movements resisting occupation.

“This explains the hysterical reaction inside Israel, she said. “I am not underestimating the anger inside Israel and what the Israeli press described as the slap in the face US President Barack Obama delivered to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The Israeli Prime Minister met the US Ambassador on Sunday — Christmas Day — to express his anger at Washington’s decision to abstain from the UN Security Council vote. Israel’s Foreign Ministry has also called in ambassadors of countries who voted with the resolution for a stern rebuke. The fact that that occurred on Christmas Day has angered some western nations, noting what would have happened if an Israeli ambassador was summoned for a diplomatic rebuke on Yom Kippur or other Jewish holiday.

Israel’s reaction can be interpreted as proof that Israel realises how the resolution gives momentum to the boycott issue.

“More importantly it offers ammunition to efforts to delegalise Israel — and this is the biggest challenge Israel has been facing in the past few years,” said Mohammad Juma, a researcher at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Strategic Studies Centre.

“The movement of the extreme right wing and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel to the heart of decision-making process in Israel is making even Israel’s friends aware of the danger of this shift on its future,” Juma told Gulf News. “The depression and feelings of despair that Israel is trying to implant in the Palestinian people was also defeated,” Al Barghouti said.

“BDS has also a moral and symbolic value,” Ganem explained. “Apart from the groups calling for an economic boycott of Israeli products from colonies built on Palestinian lands, there are many western universities inside the US and Europe active within BDS that have a strong influence. And this is what makes Israel so concerned.”

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