Yes, the UN is clearly biased when it comes to Israel

By Yousef Munayyer
You’ve heard the refrain time and again. The UN is biased against Israel.
Israel is guilty of a wide range of violations of international law and human rights. Many stem from its ongoing military occupation and and colonization of Palestinian territory in the West Bank and Gaza, but many also go back to 1948. You’d think that the UN would have, given its supposed bias against Israel and Israel’s long track-record of breaking international law, long ago placed sanctions on Israel.

Well, here is a list of countries that are currently facing UN Sanctions (some more detail here):

Congo (2004): Preventing arms flow into militia groups in eastern parts of the DRC, particularly in North and South Kivu and in Ituri.  

Ivory Coast (2004):Sanction issued as a way to pressure the parties of the civil war to honor ceasefire agreements and cooperate with the UN.  

North Korea (2006): Sanctions over development of the North Korea nuclear program. A sanction on luxury items was issued in 2009 as well.  

Eritrea (2009): Sanctions over Eritrea’s ties with armed groups in Somalia 

Iran (2006): Sanctions over Iranian nuclear program development  

Iraq (2003): UN determines that the situation in Iraq, although improved, still poses a threat to international stability.  

Lebanon (2006): Preventing arms flow into Lebanese militia groups such as the Hezbollah  

Liberia (2003): Proliferation of arms in the region threatens regional stability as well as to enforce the ceasefire agreement signed.  

Libya (2010): UN determines that Libyan authorities were violating human rights and targeting civilian population.  

Somalia (1992): Preventing arms flow to the various rebel groups operating against the transitional government.  

Sudan (2005): Sanctions over the conflict in Darfur and to enforce the ceasefire agreement.

We often hear about how the Arab and Islamic bloc in the UN force it to be biased against Israel and yet 6 countries on the UN sanctions list above are part of the Arab and Islamic bloc.  Interestingly, Israel is not on the list. How come? It isn’t because there isn’t general agreement about Israel’s violations of international law or a lack of consensus on the urgent need to do something about it. Rather, it is because the United States uses its veto at the UN Security Council to prevent the UN from taking any kind of action. The idea of using sanctions against Israel is considered blasphemous inside the Beltway.

Consider this: in Ukraine, on-again off-again protests which have become known as Euromaidan began on November 21st, 2013. Protesters have been met by government repression, as is often the case, and some have been killed while many more were injured. On December 11th, 2013, a whole 20 days – 20 DAYS – later the State Department announced it was considering sanctions against Ukraine for the use of violence against protesters.

Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has persisted for decades and Israel’s often bloody repression of Palestinian dissent has drawn international outrage over the course of that time. How has the US responded? By being the SINGLE, SOLITARY, no vote and veto on 42 United Nations Security Council Resolutions concerning Israel.

So yes, effectively the UN is clearly biased when it comes to Israel. If it wasn’t, it would have slapped sanctions on Israel long ago. 


Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center. 

The views in this brief do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.