In shift, Estonia to no longer vote against Israel at UN

Estonian foreign minister doesn’t explain what prompted policy change, which comes as the Baltic state looks to align more closely with US

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu speaks to the press during a Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on November 14, 2022. (John Thys/AFP)
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu speaks to the press during a Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on November 14, 2022. (John Thys/AFP)

Estonia’s foreign minister said the Baltic country has changed its policy toward Israel and will no longer vote for UN resolutions condemning Israeli actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Instead, the European country is looking to align its UN voting position in such matters, from now on, with Washington, its closest security policy ally and a key partner of Jerusalem.

According to a report published Monday by the Estonian public broadcaster ERR, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said Estonia — an European Union and NATO member — recently voted together with the United States against the condemnation of Israel at the UN.

That stance was apparent last week when Estonia was one of 17 countries to vote against a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice “urgently” weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli “annexation.”

Previously, Estonia has usually voted for resolutions condemning Israel at the UN together with several other countries.

Reinsalu said his country’s foreign policy has changed in this matter.

“Estonia is a member of the EU, and if the EU has a common political position including some UN resolutions as well… then naturally, we will act in accordance with a jointly agreed EU position,” he said.

However, should the 27 EU countries have differences of opinion, Reinsalu said Estonia would now as a rule align its voting position with Washington.

Reinsalu, who resumed the post of Estonia’s top diplomat in July, did not explain what prompted the Baltic nation to make the policy shift.

Estonia, a nation of 1.3 million, held a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2020-2021.

Among the countries that voted for last week’s resolution was Ukraine, prompting a rebuke from Israel. A top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later said it was “a grave mistake” for Kyiv to back the measure.

Ukraine has repeatedly requested military aid and equipment from Israel to fight off Russia’s assault on the country since late February. While providing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Israel has maintained a strict policy of not providing military aid, including systems that could help it intercept Russian missile and drone attacks.

The reasoning behind the decision appears to be Israel’s strategic need to maintain freedom of operations in Syria, as part of its efforts to prevent Iranian entrenchment on its doorstep. To that end, Israel cooperates with the Russian military, which largely controls Syria’s airspace. Israeli officials have also expressed fear that advanced military technology could fall into enemy hands and cited production and supply limitations.

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