Feeding war, killing peace: Why the US vetoed ‘Palestine’?

Dr Ramzy Baroud

The outcome of the Palestine vote and the American veto at the United Nations Security Council on 18 April was predictable. Though European countries are becoming increasingly supportive of a Palestinian state, the United States is not yet ready for this commitment.

These are some of the reasons that the US deputy envoy to the UN, Robert Wood, vetoed the resolution.

One, US foreign policy in the Middle East is still governed by Israeli priorities. And since the majority of Israelis reject the idea of a Palestinian state, or any “concessions” or even the most basic rights for Palestinians, the weak US president neither has the courage, nor the desire to defy the Israeli position.

Two, the fact that Israel, as per the words of its Ambassador at the UN, Gilad Erdan, saw that a vote for Palestine would be equivalent to “rewarding terror with a Palestinian state”, created the kind of political discourse that would have made a positive American vote, or an abstention, akin to supporting this so-called terrorism.

Three, Biden, in his own Democratic Party’s calculations, cannot politically afford supporting an independent Palestine only a few months ahead of one of the most contested and decisive elections in US history.

His position remains that of supporting a strong Palestinian Authority – which only exists to “secure” Israel against Palestinian resistance – while giving the illusion that a Palestinian state is forthcoming.

“There needs to be a Palestinian Authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state,” Biden said in October 2023.

The same position was, for the lack of a better word, articulated by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in January 2024: There is a need for a “pathway to a Palestinian state.”

But what does this mean in practice?

“The problem is getting from here to there, and of course, it requires very difficult, challenging decisions. It requires a mindset that is open to that perspective,” according to Blinken. In other words, more illusions and newspeak.

On the other hand, the Republican Party leadership made it clear that their support for Israel is blind and unconditional. They are also ready to exploit any comment – let alone action – by Biden and his officials that may seem critical of Israel in any way. All of these factors combined made the American veto quite predictable.

Important Lessons
However, the vote was still important, as it, according to Palestinian political leaders and officials, showed that it is the US, not the Palestinians, who are isolated within the international community.

Indeed, the vote demonstrated that:

One, the international community remains largely united in its support of the Palestinians.

Two, the positive vote by France, an influential European country, signals a shift in the perception of the European body politic towards Palestine.

“The time has come for a comprehensive political settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two-state solution,” the French Delegation at the UN tweeted on 19 April.

Three, the strong statements emanating from Ireland, Norway, Spain and others in this regard indicate that the trajectory of support of Palestine in Europe will continue in the coming months and years.

Ireland’s Foreign Minister, Michael Martin, expressed his disappointment “at the outcome of the UN Security Council vote on Palestinian UN membership,” he tweeted.

“It is past time for Palestine to take its rightful place amongst the nations of the world. (Ireland) fully supports UN membership and will vote in favour of any UNGA resolution to that end.”

The same position was also adopted by Norway.

“Norway regrets that the Security Council did not agree on admitting #Palestine as a full member of the UN,” Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide tweeted, adding: “Norway is a staunch supporter of Palestine’s right to statehood. The #TwoStateSolution is the only way to durable peace.”

Four, the outcome of the vote further isolates the United States precisely as much as the Israeli genocide in Gaza has also exposed and isolated Washington.

Despite the Israeli genocide in the Strip, Washington remains the main line of defence for Tel Aviv, allowing it to violate the rights of the Palestinian people and to deny them the very political horizon needed for a just peace.

And, finally, the vote and veto further accentuate Biden’s inability to liberate himself from the stronghold imposed on him and his party by Israel’s supporters – Israel’s backers within the Democratic Party institution and the pro-Israel lobby from without.

Despite the negative outcome of the vote, however, Palestinians now have a renewed resolve that they will ultimately prevail, despite the numerous obstacles created by the US and Israel.

In truth, this collective feeling of hope and empowerment is not the outcome of the strong support for Palestine at the UNSC and the General Assembly, but of the growing sympathy and support for Palestine worldwide and, even more important, the continued resistance of Palestinians in Gaza.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.