Jennifer Loewenstein Archive
Bolton Says Palestinian Resolutions Demonstrate UN Irrelevance

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the United Nations General Assembly demonstrated its irrelevance today by adopting six resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including non-binding calls for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Golan Heights.

The General Assembly, consisting of all 191 member governments, passed resolutions very similar to measures introduced annually by Arab nations for at least 30 years. The U.S. was joined by no more than seven other nations in rejecting the resolutions, which won up to 160 votes.

``These resolutions are purely symbolic,'' Bolton told reporters at the UN. ``It is one reason why many people say the UN is not really useful in solving actual problems. We have been making enormous progress toward solutions in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that progress has benefited from UN participation, but it does not benefit from needless repetition of meaningless resolutions in the General Assembly.''

Bolton, who has pressed UN member governments to reduce the number of General Assembly resolutions, said it was up to them to ``decide they want to do things that are relevant.''

Shielding Israel

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the resolutions haven't made a difference in the Middle East conflict because ``a very powerful country is shielding Israel from living up to its obligations under the UN charter.''

Arab governments complain that the U.S. protects the Jewish state in the Security Council by blocking what would be binding resolutions against Israel. The U.S. has vetoed six resolutions on the Middle East since 2000.

Mansour said the General Assembly measures are more than symbolic because they deal with what the Palestinians consider Israel's violations of international law. ``If the UN is not in the business of upholding international law, we want to know what kind of business it is involved in,'' Mansour said.

The resolutions refer to Israel's ``illegal settlement activities,'' demand that Israel cease construction of its barrier of walls and fences around the West Bank, and say Israel has violated Security Council resolutions on the questions.

Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said the Palestinians had ``hijacked'' the anniversary of the UN's partition of Palestine, creating Israel on Nov. 29, 1947.

``It is very disappointing that the very positive changes in the region, such as Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, seem to have absolutely no effect on this ongoing tedious ritual,'' Gillerman said. ``Taking this day year after year and repeating this sorry ritual is rather pathetic. It shows that as far as the Palestinians are concerned, there is no present or future, only the past happening over and over again.''

To contact the reporter on this story:
Bill Varner in United Nations at
Last Updated: December 1, 2005 12:49 EST

Jennifer Loewenstein