Elliott Abrams: Israel and the U.N.'s Theatre of the Absurd

Israeli soldiers from the 605 Combat Engineering Corps battalion on the Israeli side of the border between Syria and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, on June 1. Elliott Abrams asks, What would happen were Israel to withdraw from the Golan? Would Bashar al-Assad’s Iranian-backed army try to seize it? Or, more likely, would Hezbollah forces seize it? Baz Ratner/reuters

This article first appeared on the Council on Foreign Relations site.

This past week, the United Nations General Assembly commemorated once again the "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" and took the occasion to pass six anti-Israel resolutions.

Ranging from the despicable to the absurd, these resolutions of course have nothing to do with reality in the Middle East, nor do they bring peace one minute closer. Let's take a look at one–the resolution entitled "The Syrian Golan."

This resolution (formally known as Agenda item 34 or document A/71/L.8) had many co-sponsors. They included, and I quote, such world leaders as "Bolivia (Plurinational State of)" and "Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)," plus Zimbabwe, Comoros, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and of course a bunch of Arab states.

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The heart of the resolution is this: The General Assembly

Determines once more that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region…

Demands once more that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 in implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions;

What precisely would happen were Israel tomorrow morning to withdraw from what the U.N. calls "the Syrian Golan?" Would the Islamic State militant group try to overrun it and slaughter Druze living there? Would Iranian-backed militias take part of it?

More likely, would Bashar al-Assad's Iranian-backed army try to seize it? Or, most likely of all, would Hezbollah forces seize it?

How would that affect the people living there? Or the people living in northern Israel? Or the people living across the border from the Golan in Jordan?

It seems that neither "Bolivia (Plurinational State of)" nor "Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)" cares much. But who voted against this mindless resolution? According to the U.N., there was "a recorded vote of 103 in favor to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States), with 56 abstentions."

Amazing, isn't it? The United States and Canada joined Israel–and got the support of three tiny Pacific island nations. That means the nations of the EU abstained; not one single European country could bring itself to acknowledge the truth about this resolution.

The U.N. press release notes this, though:

The representative of Syria thanked Member States that had voted in favor of the resolutions.… The favorable vote sent a clear message to Israel that its killing, settlement expansion and forcible annexation of land ran counter to international principles.

It's hard to think of a better example of why the United Nations has become the theater of the absurd. The representative of a regime that rules perhaps 10 percent of Syria and has killed half a million of its own people, including with poison gas, condemns Israel for its "killing."

The General Assembly spends a day passing six resolutions denouncing Israel. And representatives of democracies all around the world hide and abstain.

Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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