Britain joins US, Canada in opposing UN resolution on ‘Syrian Golan’


(JTA) — Britain for the first time joined the United States and Canada in opposing a U.N. resolution condemning Israel’s control over the Golan Heights and declaring it Syrian.

On Thursday, the British delegate told the assembly he voted no because “resolutions which undermine the credibility of UN bodies risk hardening positions on both sides, and do little to advance peace or mutual understanding,” he said. “It is unnecessary and disproportionate.”

The resolution, which passed 106-6 with 58 abstentions, condemns Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan, which it took from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. It calls Israel’s presence “a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.” The text resembles previous resolutions passed annually at the General Assembly with Syrian or Arab sponsorship.

Nearly half a million people have died in Syria since the outbreak in 2011 of a bloody civil war featuring atrocities by Sunni and Shiite militia and the regime of the country’s besieged dictator, Bashar Assad.

The other European Union countries abstained in the vote, as Britain had done in the past following the civil war’s outbreak.

The General Assembly passed another five resolutions on Israel and the Palestinian territories that contain critical language on Israel, including a text on Jerusalem that called the Temple Mount, a holy site for Muslims and Jews, by its Islamic name only. That text passed 151-6, with nine abstentions.

Another resolution called on the United Nations to observe an “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” on Nov. 29, the 1947 date that the Security Council adopted a plan for the partition of the British Mandate on Palestine, paving the way to Israel’s creation.

Separately, the U.N. International Criminal Court in The Hague decided not to pursue war crimes charges against Israel in the slaying of nine Turkish anti-Israel activists at sea in 2010. The activists were attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the coastal strip controlled by the Hamas terrorist group. Israeli soldiers who boarded their vessel, the Mavi Marmara, were beaten and stabbed, prompting the Israeli troops to open fire.

“The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction have been committed in the context of interception and takeover of the Mavi Marmara by IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers on 31 May 2010,” read the paper seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

But lawyers decided the crimes in question were not of sufficient gravity to fall under the court’s jurisdiction, the papers added.

Recommended from JTA