United States: Washington isolated in its support for Israel

January 11, 2024
woman holding a sign

Israel’s war against the Palestinians in Gaza is the current focal point of the long-term Zionist project to take over all of the pre-1948 land of Palestine.

Early on, this aim was expressed in the slogan, “a land without people, for a people without land”, ignoring the Palestinian people’s existence.

Palestinians in Gaza are for the most part descendants of those driven from their homes by Jewish settlers, armed and backed by Western imperialist powers (mainly Britain) in the 1948 war. They fled to Gaza, which was, at the time, part of Egypt.

Israel conquered Gaza from Egypt in the 1967 Israel-Arab war, with backing from the West, this time mainly the United States.

Genocide, ethnic cleansing

The United Nations has a precise definition of genocide, which goes beyond the unintended deaths of civilians in wars.

According to the UN Genocide Convention, genocide can take place in times of war and peace. The definition contained in Article II of the Convention describes genocide as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, in whole or in part.

This definition was the result of a negotiating process and reflects the compromise reached among UN Member States, including the US, in drafting the Convention in 1948.

Israel’s current war — with its bombs leveling cites, destroying hospitals and homes, killing more than 20,000 people, with more than 6000 missing, presumed dead under the rubble, and with those numbers growing every day — is genocide.

Palestinian civilians killed and wounded in Gaza are not “collateral damage”, but primary targets. That is the only explanation for the hospitals destroyed, and for the siege preventing food, water, electricity and medical supplies from entering Gaza Strip.

Cutting off food and clean water spreads malnutrition and disease, which is becoming a new source of death in Gaza, part of the genocide.

In the few remaining hospitals, there are no anesthetics to perform necessary amputations. Many victims are children and babies.

Even Israel’s reports of the death toll in Gaza reflect that a large proportion of those killed in Gaza are women and children compared to fighters.

Israel’s campaign of mass terror has displaced 1.9 million out of Gaza’s 2.2 million population. Israel warns people to flee from proposed bombing sites to “safe” places, then shells these “safe” places, forcing Palestinians to flee again.

The mass displacement began in northern Gaza with the bombing and ground invasion, and has systematically moved south, forcing Gazans in growing concentrations towards the border with Egypt.

Israel’s genocidal war is a deliberate means to force the people of Gaza to cross the border into the Sinai desert in Egypt — and amounts to ethnic cleansing.

While Israeli officials deny this, an Israeli government plan to do just that became public at the beginning of Israel’s war, acknowledged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time.

US bombs used on Gaza

The US does not hide its 100% support of Israel’s genocidal war. President Joe Biden circumvented Congress in December to send US$100 million-worth of additional artillery shells to Israel for use against the Palestinians.

The US also vetoed a December 8 UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza — the only vote against it. (Britain abstained.)

Supporters of the UNSC resolution called it a terrible day and warned of more civilian deaths and destruction.

In a vain last-minute effort to press the Biden administration to drop its opposition to a ceasefire, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were all in Washington. But US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met them only after the Security Council vote.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) sponsored the resolution. UAE deputy ambassador Mohammed Abushahab said before the vote that the resolution had garnered nearly 100 co-sponsors in less than 24 hours, a reflection of global support.

After the vote, he expressed deep disappointment at the US veto and warned that the Security Council is growing isolated and “appears untethered” from its mandate to ensure international peace and security.

“What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?” Abushahab asked. “Indeed, what is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?”

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky called the vote “one of the darkest days in the history of the Middle East" and accused the US of issuing “a death sentence to thousands, if not tens of thousands more civilians in Palestine and Israel, including women and children”.

He said, “history will judge Washington’s actions” in the face of what he called a “merciless Israeli bloodbath”.

The Council called the emergency meeting to hear from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who for the first time invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, which enables the UN chief to raise threats he sees to international peace and security. He warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza and urged the council to demand a ceasefire.

Guterres said he raised Article 99 — which hadn’t been used at the UN since 1971 — because “there is a high risk of the total collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza” and warned that this could result in “a complete breakdown of public order and increased pressure for mass displacement into Egypt”.

Gaza is at “a breaking point,” he said, and desperate people are at serious risk of starvation.

Guterres said Hamas’ brutality against Israelis on October 7 “can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”.

Keep up the pressure

The Security Council vote showed the growing diplomatic isolation of the US. This was emphasised right after the vote, in a December 12 vote in the UN General Assembly calling for a ceasefire. It was passed with 153 countries in favour, 10 against, and 23 abstentions.

Compared with the October 27 UN vote calling for a ceasefire, support — particularly among US allies — had increased. Twenty NATO countries also voted for a ceasefire. Australia, along with Canada, Denmark, Albania, Greece and India had abstained on October 27, but voted in favour December 12. Ukraine abstained.

The prime ministers of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand — three of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (the other two are the US and Britain) — issued a joint statement about their yes vote, saying:

“In defending itself, Israel must respect international humanitarian law. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected. We are alarmed at the diminishing safe space for civilians in Gaza. The price of defeating Hamas cannot be continuous suffering of all Palestinians.”

Israel, however, is taking no heed of the majority of the world calling for a ceasefire. It knows that Washington will back its current war on the Palestinian people, whatever squeaks of protest Biden may make.

“Israel will not be deterred” wrote longtime foreign affairs journalist Chris Hedges in Consortium News. “It plans to finish the job, to obliterate what is left in the north of Gaza and decimate what remains in the south, to render Gaza uninhabitable, to see its 2.3 million people driven out in a mass campaign of starvation, terror, slaughter and infectious diseases.”

But when the overwhelming majority of world governments call for a cease fire, it indicates they are under intense pressure from below.

We can take heart from that fact and redouble our efforts in all forms of mass action to support the immediate and urgent demand for a ceasefire and for support for the Palestinian resistance and a free Palestine.

In the US — the main supporter of Israel’s genocidal war — we have a special responsibility.

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