U.N. Arab Group Opposes Israeli-Authored Proposal to Help Farmers

Many Arab nations could benefit from agriculture initiative

Saudi Arabia delegate speaks for U.N. Arab group / un.org

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An Israeli-authored United Nations proposal that could help millions of struggling farmers received unlikely support this week from more than 100 nations, barring one key voting bloc: Arab nations.

Israel spearheaded an agricultural initiative aimed at providing technology and resources to developing nations.

The Agricultural Technology for Development resolution garnered massive support from a plethora of nations across the globe and passed the United Nations by a vote of 138 to 1 on Tuesday.

However, the coalition of Arab nations at the United Nations, which holds great sway in the international body, fought tooth-and-nail against the resolution, according sources in the Israeli U.N. mission.

Thirty-four nations in total—including Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and almost every other Arab nation—abstained from voting on the measure after launching into an anti-Israel tirade when the initiative came up for a vote on Tuesday.

"They opposed it for ridiculous reasons," said Simonne Levavi, a member of Israel’s mission to the U.N. told the Washington Free Beacon. "It’s crazy. Every time we try to do something we have extra hurdles to jump."

"The Palestinian delegation, unfortunately, has a lot of influence" with important players in U.N. and lobbies them to oppose anything that Israel backs.

Levavi said that if the resolution had been brought by another nation, "not only would [the Arab coalition] most likely support it, they would love it because it’s very specific to technology and that’s something developing countries" need to prosper.

Israel’s agriculture initiative is meant to help ensure that developing nations can keep up with growing food demands.

It focuses on building agricultural cooperatives via cash investments in technology and other areas. It also seeks to help younger people learn the trade, particularly woman.

While many Arab nations and others with large Arab populations, including the Palestinians, could benefit from the initiative, all of these nations banded together to oppose it.

Israel is "an occupying power" that refuses "to refrain from its illegal practices," Saudi Arabia’s representative said on behalf of the entire Arab group.

The Israelis are manipulating the U.N. in an attempt to make itself look better, the coalition said.

"Member states must be opposed to this attitude and not allow Israel to manipulate the organization by presenting this draft resolution, which deals with important technical issues for developing countries, in order to achieve certain political designs," said the Saudi representative, who went on to say that Israel’s goal is to "hide their policies."

"The Arab group believes Israel doesn’t really deal with agricultural matter … but pretends to be interested in this technology to disguise their destructive measures which are aimed at destroying all of the agriculture in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem" and the Golan Heights, according to the Arab group.

The Saudi representative then launched into an anti-Israel tirade, accusing the Jewish state of "uprooting trees in order to build illegal settlements" and of destroying Palestinian olive groves.

"Israeli practices including checkpoints hamper agriculture and agricultural life in the occupied territories," he said.

Israel’s Levavi said that Israel experiences this type of opposition at every turn.

"This was a resolution that people really appreciate, and it’s sad that every time this happens," she said.

Adam Kredo   Email Adam | Full Bio | RSS
Adam Kredo is senior writer reporting on national security and foreign policy matters for the Washington Free Beacon. An award-winning political reporter who has broken news from across the globe, Kredo’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary Magazine, the Drudge Report, and the Jerusalem Post, among many others. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.

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