After several years of increased Israeli participation and acceptance at the United Nations, Israel once again became the target of condemnation and unduly harsh criticism on a host of issues, including the status of Jerusalem, Israel s operations in Lebanon, its policy toward the Palestinians, the peace process, and Israeli housing projects over the Green Line.
December 1995: Following the announcement of an Israeli building project in eastern Jerusalem at Har Homa, the General Assembly passed Resolution 50/22 by a vote of 133 to 1, which stated that Israel s sovereignty over Jerusalem is null and void and has no validity whatsoever. Furthermore, it denounced the transfer of some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem. Israel was the only nation to vote against the resolution. The U.S. was one of 13 countries which abstained from the vote. The U.S. abstained on the grounds that according to the Oslo agreements the issue of Jerusalem was to be determined during bilateral final status negotiations that interference by the international community in the peace process was detrimental to its success, and that one-sided condemnations of Israel served only to exacerbate tensions in the region.
April 1996: An Israeli counterattack against Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon who had fired Katyusha rockets in northern Israel inadvertently hit a U.N. base in Qana, tragically killing 100. In response, the GA called for a halt in Israeli-Lebanese hostilities, condemned Israel alone for the incident and demanded that Israel pay reparations and withdraw from all Lebanese territory. In June 1997, the GA again passed a resolution calling on Israel to pay reparations to cover the damages in Qana. No reference was made to ongoing Hezbollah aggression against Israel, or the damage Hezbollah caused in northern Israel.
November 1996: Following an Israeli military closure in the West Bank and Gaza, which had been implemented in response to a series of Palestinian suicide bombings that killed 59 Israelis, the GA issued a report condemning Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. With no consideration of Israel's security concerns, the U.N. report harshly rebuked Israel for human rights violations, demanded an end to the military closure and the release of Palestinian prisoners. The report also criticized the expansion of Jewish settlements and accused Israel of creeping ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
December 1996: The GA passed several resolutions regarding Israel and the Middle East peace process. One of the resolutions demanded that Israel withdraw from all of the territories occupied in 1967 and stressed the importance of the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians. Notably, some states such as Turkey voted for the resolution but acknowledged Israel s perspective, as the Turkish ambassador said. Although Turkey supports draft resolution A/51/L.36, we believe that it does not reflect all the obstacles on the road to lasting peace and stability in the Middle East. We believe that one of the fundamental threats to the peace process is terrorism. We would therefore like to emphasize the urgent need for countries that lend their support to terrorism immediately to stop that illegal and destructive practice and refrain from using terrorism as a foreign policy instrument. Such sentiments were echoed by the Israeli ambassador who added that the resolution stands in contradiction to the very principles upon which the peace process is based. Another resolution demanded that Israel withdraw from the entire Golan Heights. The U.S., which voted against these resolutions, reprimanded the GA, saying that its interjection into the peace process, and matters that the parties had agreed to discuss during bilateral negotiations, would only further complicate the situation in the Middle East.
1997: The Arab group at the U.N. tried to invoke the Fourth Geneva Convention against Israel, in regard to its settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in particular to the Har Homa building project in Jerusalem. (The Fourth Geneva Convention on Rules of War was adopted in 1949 by the international community in response to Nazi atrocities during World War II. The international treaty governs the treatment of civilians during wartime, including hostages, diplomats, spies, bystanders and civilians in territory under military occupation. The convention outlaws torture, collective punishment and the resettlement by an occupying power of its own civilians on territory under its military control). In the 48 years since its adoption, the Fourth Geneva Convention had never been reconvened to address any world atrocities including those in Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, or Tibet. International efforts led by the U.S. were successful in scaling down a special U.N. meeting in Geneva held on July 15, 1997. The closed-door meeting lasted a mere 45 minutes. However, a resolution was unanimously passed stating that the Fourth Geneva Convention does apply to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
May 2000: Israel was accepted into the regional group known as Western and Others Group (WEOG), a major positive development during this period of increased hostility toward Israel. Until this time, the Arab states had acted to ensure that Israel was the only member state consistently denied admission into a regional group by preventing Israel s membership into its natural geopolitical grouping, the Asian Regional Group. And, even so, Israel was only granted admission to WEOG in New York, but not in Geneva and thus cannot participate in U.N. Geneva-based activities.