Abstaining from voting on Jerusalem at the UN a good move

Abstaining from voting on Jerusalem at the UN a good move

BY FABIAN LEWIS

Thursday, December 28, 2017

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The recent abstention from voting on a United Nations resolution by Jamaica has elicited a storm of controversy, or should I say, histrionics — most of it contrived and ridiculous.

There is but one question to ask and answer in this matter: Is it in Jamaica's interest to vote for the resolution as other nations have done?

The answer is clearly no. American President Donald J Trump made it clear that he would withhold aid from countries that voted against the US move. It is not in our economic, security or bilateral relationship interest to anger the US. Anybody arguing against that is a dumb as a doornail. Let's deal with some of the points raised.

This matter of Jamaica giving up its sovereignty is hogwash. No country on Earth in this day and age is sovereign in the strict interpretation of the word. Globalisation put paid to that nonsense a long time ago. You can't claim sovereignty when you are in a club of nations call Caricom and, as a nation, we can't even slap tariffs on goods coming into Jamaica that harm our own manufacturers here. You can't claim sovereignty when you are indebted to international lending agencies like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This sovereignty argument is nonsense. We can't even protect our coastline.

The other nonsense being raised by some, especially poor Lisa Hanna, Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs — the same lady that sent condolence to a living person — is that Jamaica has broken with a long-standing foreign policy of a two-State solution for Israel and Palestine. So what? Every Government that takes control of this country must decide its own foreign policy. That's Governance 101. That might mean overturning decades-old foreign policy objectives that were pursued by preceding administrations, many times. That's normal. A Government should pursue a foreign policy objective only, and I say only, when it is in its country's best interest. Period! No matter how long it has been in existence, if it is no longer in our interest, dump it. That's what I want my Government to do. Look out for this country's interest first. And if that means tearing up a particular foreign policy position, go right ahead.

And also this other foolishness about the prime minister being cowardly is beyond absurd. How can the prime minister be considered a coward when he is putting his nation's interest first? Huh?! Isn't that what we elect a Government to do? You can't have it both ways. You can't be asking him to stand up for the nation's interest and then when he does, because it's not what you want, he is labelled a coward. You know who is a coward in my book? Someone who, instead of standing up for our interest, signs away the rights of Jamaicans in a secret memorandum of understanding with a foreign territory. That's a coward. Not Holness! He stood up for our interest by not voting, and he should not be labelled a coward, but applauded.

Jamaica is looking beyond the narrow reaches of Caricom to broaden our partnership with other countries. Israel is one such country. It would be nonsensical for the Jamaican Government to do something that will jeopardise what can and will be a very fruitful partnership. Jamaica can benefit in a lot of ways from Israeli technology in areas like water harvesting and in agriculture. We need such partnership. Angering the Israelis emboldened by a Donald Trump is not in our interest.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been going on from biblical days. Nobody has solved it, and nobody will. Yes, we sympathise with the Palestinians, but a vote in the UN against recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will not help them; neither is voting for it. We have nothing to gain by voting for that particular resolution, yet a whole lot to lose. It's not in Jamaica's interest to bring down the wrath of the United States under a reckless president who is backed by a desperate Republican Party.

Sorry, Palestine, not our fight.

Jamaica is at a delicate point in its economic recovery. Jobs are being created at a record pace. Our fiscal situation is in very good standing. “Five in four”may still be achievable. Why in the world would the Government of Jamaica do anything to jeopardise that? It's just absurd to think the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government would blindly follow a foreign policy that was probably OK in decades gone by, but not now, and risk derailing the gains we have made that we as a nation have suffered so much to accomplish.

Finally I will throw something into the mix. Many of these people who have a problem with the way Jamaica voted — or did not vote — do not have it out of any real conviction, but a desire to see another stand-off with the United States, as happened in the last JLP Administration. That's it. Plain and simple. If Jamaica had voted with many countries against the US and incurred the wrath of the US they are the same ones who would gleefully talk about how reckless the JLP is on every radio station and political platform. Remember how we heard from 2011 to 2016 how some people had to work hard to repair Jamaica's reputation? Remember? They were looking for another such opportunity. Sorry, it ain't gonna happen.

Sorry, Palestine, this is not our fight. In this particular time, Jamaica's interest trumps yours. You will have to find a way to sort out your mess. We have our own mess here to clean up.

Well done, Prime Minister Holness. And hats off to our beautiful, bright, tough in character, and possibly the greatest foreign affairs minister we have ever had in the lady Kamina Johnson Smith — an absolute credit to this nation.

Merry Christmas and prosperous new year, everybody, and let's march into 2018 with peace and prosperity on our minds. After all, that's among the main things right now in Jamaica's interest; peace and prosperity.

tyronelewis272@gmail.com


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