In this May 24, 2016 file photo, House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo)

PolitiFact: DeSantis wrong about U.N. Israel resolutions

When Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said most United Nations resolutions in a year targeted Israel, he was referring to resolutions from the General Assembly, not the whole U.N. system. The United Nations adopted hundreds of resolutions in 2016 — not just 24.

Any United Nations body can issue a resolution. The most are by the Security Council or General Assembly.

The 15-member Security Council is the only U.N. body that can pass binding resolutions, which member states are required to implement under the U.N. Charter. It can also pass economic sanctions and launch investigations and peacekeeping missions.

DeSantis spokeswoman Elizabeth Fusick said he was referring to resolutions passed during the 71st session of the U.N. General Assembly from September 2016 to September 2017. But the Assembly adopted about 330 resolutions during that time.

Fusick pointed to an analysis by UN Watch, a pro-Israel watchdog group that monitors criticism by the United Nations.

UN Watch’s analysis, however, only looks at resolutions in the last two months of 2016. In that timeframe, its analysis showed the General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions that “singled out” Israel.

In contrast, only four other resolutions were adopted condemning other nations: one each against Ukraine and Iran, and two about Syria. In a subsequent December 2016 story, UN Watch added two more resolutions against Syria and North Korea.

The General Assembly resolutions against Israel are largely symbolic. Michael Koplow, Israel Policy Forum’s policy director, said they are an easy way for Arab and Muslim states to indicate their opposition to Israel and single out the United States.

There are conflicting opinions on whether some of those resolutions are “anti-Israel.”

Koplow pointed to UN Watch’s inclusion of resolution 71/126, which he said does not “single-out” Israel. Instead it welcomes humanitarian assistance and economic aid for Gaza, and reiterates multiple times the need for the Palestinian Authority to be in charge of implementing development projects rather than Hamas.

Security Council resolutions critical of Israel are rare.

Mainstream news reports in December 2016 did mention the Security Council’s resolution 2334, which condemned Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories as “constituting a flagrant violation under international law.”

The vote was significant because the United States abstained, allowing the resolution to be adopted — which usually doesn’t happen.

“Israel is shielded from critical resolutions for the most part, because of the United States,” said Louis Charbonneau, the director of the United Nations program at Human Rights Watch.

A single vote from one permanent member on the Security Council can veto a resolution. Charbonneau said the United States has a history of vetoing resolutions that are critical of Israel, especially under the Trump administration.

A member of the audience at the event when DeSantis made his statement disputed DeSantis’ numbers and said the U.N. adopted 76 resolutions and only one was related to Israel in 2016. He was referring to the number of resolutions the Security Council passed.

Our ruling

DeSantis’ numbers are wrong. The United Nations’ General Assembly passed hundreds of resolutions in the year-long 2016-17 session — not two dozen. He was apparently repeating a watchdog group’s findings that most General Assembly resolutions against other countries, over a few months in 2016, were against Israel. But his sweeping public comment contained no trace of those clarifications.

We rate this claim False.