COHA on Latin America’s UN Role on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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  • Brazil’s legacy likely to be bitter when viewed from Washington while White House scheduled to be treated with generosity by U.S. policymakers

Wrenching political and economic forces are at play at the United Nations regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Colombia, which currently holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC), is receiving a great deal of attention for harmoniously aligning its position on the issue with that of the U.S. On the other hand, there is a great divide between Brazil and Colombia, the two Latin American nations that currently have non-permanent seats on the UNSC, and which hold opposing views regarding Palestine’s admission into the UN as a sovereign state.

In a speech made today by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Bogotá pledged its support for bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine as the preferred method that President Abbas should use to obtain a two-state solution in which the Palestinian state would gain its sovereignty. This strategy would affect a two-state solution to Palestine as a result of negotiations, not by means of a UN vote. Aligning its views with its U.S. counterpart, Colombia is the only Latin American country that is not in favor of Palestine’s bid for recognition. This decision can be understood, as Colombia opts for greater diplomatic ties with Washington.Bogotá’s decision to not support Palestine’s entry into the UN by withholding its vote is being seen as a great victory for the U.S., as the country, in any event, is prepared to exercise its veto power in the UNSC. At the same time, a number of Latin American nations fully support Palestine’s recognition by the UN and have militarily advocated for its entry. In a speech made yesterday at the UN General Assembly by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil and several other Latin American countries expressed the belief that Palestine deserves the right of sovereignty and self-determination. Contrary to what the U.S. and Colombia reason, they maintain that recognition of the Palestinian state will increase possibilities for a lasting peace in the Middle East. What is certain is that Brazil’s vote against the U.S. position will hang like a troubled sword, creating a good deal of enmity between Brasilia and Washington.

In off-the-record conversations with several administration officials, COHA was told that there is no question that Colombia will be spared any cut in U.S. funding as a result of domestic budget cuts, especially as the White House is anxious to express its warmth and gratitude for Colombia’s backing. At the same time, a significant line of deterioration in U.S.-Brazilian relations is expected to deepen as a result of Brazil’s action regarding the Palestinian issue and the country’s prior thwarting of U.S. attempts to isolate the Iranian authoritarian regime and its anti-democratic behavior.