Israel remains optimistic, bias may change as UAE, other countries join UN Security Council
(January 5, 2022 / JNS) The UAE took its long-standing seat on the 15-member UN Security Council on Tuesday, and Israel is expected to look to its new friend to help ease the council’s disproportionate focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict . But according to a number of analysts and those familiar with the UAE’s positions, the Jewish state should not expect full support from the Emiratis.
Still, the UAE is replacing Tunisia, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel, as the council’s traditional Arab voice and is expected to bring a more balanced voice with it when it comes to the Jewish state.
“There is a certain degree of obligation to present the views of the Arab bloc when you sit on the Security Council. In addition, we have always maintained, even by signing the Abrahamic Accords, that Israel must withdraw from the West Bank, ”a source in the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told JNS. .
Essentially, the UAE will have to choose one of two paths.
“The Emiratis will come under pressure from the radicals within the Arab League. They will have to choose between themselves and a more moderate path, ”Abdellah Imassi, UN correspondent for Middle East broadcasting networks, told JNS. “I see Abu Dhabi creating a more open dialogue and more initiative towards Israel and the peace process.”
“Do not expect anything revolutionary from Abu Dhabi on this front,” he added. “But they can move the needle in certain situations, not least because they have good relations with the five permanent members of the Security Council.”
The United Arab Emirates served a previous term on the Security Council, from 1986 to 1987. They won Arab League support in 2012 for another term and sealed a seat with an unopposed candidacy in the Asia-Pacific Group. last year after winning constituency support. in 2020.
“What we can provide, as far as the council’s balance of power allows, is to push for a greater regional voice from the Gulf states on the Iran issue, which should benefit Israel,” the source said, telling JNS that the public the positions the UAE has taken on a number of regional and global issues will continue to be reflected in their actions in the Security Council.
That said, the United Arab Emirates is one of many Gulf states pushing the United States and Iran to reach an agreement on the reinstatement of the largely abandoned Iran nuclear deal three years after it applauded the US withdrawal from the pact. The recent diplomatic warming between Tehran and Abu Dhabi does not make the UAE any less concerned about Iran’s burgeoning ballistic missile and drone programs or its other threatening activities across the region.
Good relations with the five new nations
The United Arab Emirates, which will serve a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the body, is represented by Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, who was recently promoted to minister. Nusseibeh’s family has had ties to Jerusalem for a millennium, and his father and grandfather are among his family members who have supported the Palestinian cause, though they often disagree with the motives and methods of its direction. Nusseibeh was the voice of the UAE in Turtle Bay following the Abrahamic Accords, repeatedly praising Israel’s initiatives in the search for a broader peace in its home region.
“The UAE’s conduct in the Council will reflect who we are as a country and as a people: open, inclusive and bound by the belief that we are stronger united. We will seek a convergence of views and a unified board voice so that its decisions are received with the broadest support possible. Diplomacy is all about dialogue, seeking diverse points of view and blazing a trail towards consensus. In the Council, we will seek to promote stability and shift from the mindset of conflict management to conflict prevention and resolution, ”Nusseibeh told reporters and other new members of the Security Council gathered. at UN headquarters on Tuesday.
The Emiratis joined Albania, Brazil, Gabon and Ghana in installing the flags of their countries in front of the UN Security Council chamber, replacing Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam. Israel generally has good relations with the five new nations.
The non-permanent members of India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway will complete their terms at the end of this year. Ireland generally has anti-Israel positions and Mexico has shown little interest in Middle Eastern affairs. Norway is the pen-holder on the Israeli-Palestinian dossier, while India and Kenya have become more friendly towards Israel in recent years.
The five permanent members – the US, UK, France, China and Russia – exercise the all-important veto power over the council. Nusseibeh will sit between the Russian and British ambassadors in the Security Council chamber.
While the Israeli mission to the United Nations made no comment when asked if it had sought clarification from the UAE on its envisaged positions in the council or had had discussions with the UAE mission united on his priorities, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan tweeted his congratulations in June to all new members after their election and said he hoped they would work to end the anti-Israeli prejudices within the international body.
“I have high hopes and hope that you will work to correct the bias of counseling in order to become more relevant and effective as you approach conflicts in the world,” he wrote at the time.
“A lot of time on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”
The Security Council regularly issues resolutions and other condemnations against Israel. However, the United States has regularly exercised its veto power to protect its ally from any potentially damaging binding resolution. Last October, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield rebuked the Security Council for its disproportionate focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for which there is at least one monthly meeting on the council calendar.
“This council devotes a lot of time to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is both understandable and on the agenda. But all too often the substance of these discussions centers almost entirely on criticism of Israel and counterattacks. I sincerely hope that in the future board members will do their best to adopt a more balanced approach. In addition, there are other countries and situations in the region which deserve the attention of the Security Council and should not be overlooked, ”she said.
Nonetheless, the Security Council will hold its quarterly public debate on the Israeli-Palestinian dossier on January 19, which should give a first indication of how the UAE intends to play the issue.
Nusseibeh noted that the UAE would seek leadership roles in some of the Security Council’s broader issues, such as women, peace and security, terrorism, global health and climate change. The UAE diplomatic source said its UN mission did not intend to act as a pen-holder on any of the issues of countries, such as North Korea or Afghanistan, but rather more thematic UNSC agenda items.
“We want to appear as a responsible, fair and impartial, technocratic and apolitical actor,” said the source.
This is in part for the sake of self-preservation, as the UAE seeks to maintain its current good relations with Washington, Beijing, Moscow and Europe, all of whom come to the council with often competing interests and who exercise all tremendous power in the board itself.