In a surprise turn of events, Nigeria lined up with the U.S. and Israel to defeat an effort by Palestinians to move the needle on the nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
A U.N. Security Council vote on Dec. 30 came just short of approving the Palestinian resolution. Nigeria’s vote to abstain defied earlier predictions that it would support the Palestinians.
Both Nigeria and the Palestinian Authority are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has passed numerous resolutions supporting the Palestinian cause.
But an urgent 11th hour phone call by Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan appears to have twisted the African leader’s arm.
While the position of Washington against the resolution was not a surprise, Nigeria’s abstention vote was a “shock” and a disappointment, said Palestine’s representative to the OIC, Muhammad Al-Akluk.
Some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in ‘occupied territories’ seized by Israel in 1967 from Egypt, Syria and Jordan. While not demanding the removal of the settlers, noted Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, the measure called for the withdrawal of Israeli security forces, and their replacement with a third-party presence – possibly American troops or NATO troops.
The resolution also condemned violence against civilians and all acts of terrorism and promotes a sovereign, non-militarized Palestine, with full U.N. membership.
Voting for the resolution were Russia, China, France, Chad, Chile, Argentine, Jordan and Luxembourg.
Despite his country’s consistently pro-Palestine voting record, President Jonathan, considers himself a good friend to Israel. Last year, he visited Israel twice and has received offers of Israeli help in the form of sophisticated weapons sales to aid the fight against Boko Haram.
The U.S. has refused weapons sales to Abuja due to major human rights violations by the military.
More than 50 Israeli companies currently operate in Nigeria in the civil engineering, energy, communication, and security industries among others.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is hinting he will resubmit a resolution calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state that failed to win enough votes last week.
“We didn’t fail, the UN Security Council failed us,” Abbas told officials at a cultural conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “We will go again to the Security Council, why not? Perhaps after a week.”
Palestinians also gave notice that they are signing the Rome Statute making them members of the Hague-based International Criminal Court. This will allow them to file suit against Israel for war crimes committed in the summer of 2014, including the Gaza War. w/pix of B. Netanyahu and G. Jonathan