Israel long ago learned that it can expect little sympathy and even less justice at the United Nations. The organization’s high-minded diplomats from around the world have been known to remain silent while terrorist missiles land on Israeli soil, but stir themselves to outrage when Israel decides to defend itself.
Regrettably, nobody should be surprised when the U.N. intervenes in Middle Eastern politics in a way that either insults or actually hurts Israelis. Even still, the General Assembly’s decision to upgrade the status of the nonexistent nation of Palestine to that of nonmember observer is particularly reprehensible. One hundred thirty-eight nation-states checked their consciences at the door (their usual practice) and voted to, in essence, reward the Palestinians for their reprehensible behavior and murderous tactics.
One Palestinian faction, Hamas, marked the occasion not by celebrating but by denouncing Mahmoud Abbas’s “victory speech” after the vote. Why? Because Mr. Abbas implicitly recognized the state of Israel. “We do not recognize Israel, nor the partition of Palestine, and Israel has no right in Palestine,” a Hamas spokesman said. What noble sentiments.
Israel reacted in the only way it could—with magnificent disdain. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a salient but ignored point about the speeches and celebrations that marked the U.N. vote. “The world watched a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda against … the citizens of Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu correctly noted of Mr. Abbas’s speech on the day of the vote.
It’s entirely possible that the cheering delegates in the General Assembly hall didn’t notice Mr. Abbas’s poisonous rhetoric because, well, they’ve heard it before. Many times.
Words and actions have consequences. Palestinian diplomats immediately seized on the vote as justification for their venomous attitudes toward Israel. Life would not be the same for Palestinians, insisted one of the Palestinian negotiators. “Palestine will become a country under occupation.”
And that, in a nutshell, explains why this vote was so damaging, so destructive, and so counterproductive. Palestinians can now tell themselves that the world is on their side, that the General Assembly shares their belief that Palestinian misery and poverty can be blamed not on failed Palestinian leaders, but on Israel. When in doubt, blame the Jews.
As the Palestinians seek further advantage at the U.N., it will be incumbent on Washington to make sure that there are further consequences for this odious vote. If the Palestinians seek membership in one or more of the U.N.’s various agencies, as seems likely, Washington and its allies need to pull every penny of financing from those agencies until Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza recognize Israel and commit to a two-state solution.
The vote was shameful. The consequences should be profound.