The Bottom Line: It's UN-believable

Liat Collins / Feb. 5, 2004


Israel certainly pays a price for being a member of the United Nations. Not the cost of condemnations. The real cost: $15.8 million a year.


Of course, some of that goes to the noble cause of peace-keeping - in places like Sierra Leone, East Timor, the Congo, and Eritrea.


According to a special report by Yediot Aharonot's Eitan Amit, last year Israel's contribution to the upkeep of UN forces in Sierra Leone amounted to nearly $2m.


And Sierra Leone is not alone. Keeping peace in the Congo came with a $2.5m. price tag for Israel, while East Timor cost us "just" $1m.


As Amit noted, the massive funding by Israel of the UN comes at a time when the Foreign Ministry is closing consulates and embassies for lack of money. Only last month, Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman succeeded at the last moment in persuading the Foreign Ministry to find the $3m. a year necessary to keep the embassy open in Belarus, a country with a large aliya potential.


While he was seeking a way to save the embassy, Lieberman was probably unaware that in 2003 Israel paid $8.4m. for UN peace-keeping efforts. And the sum is likely to go up this year, unless miraculously world peace breaks out.


The $8.4m. is only half the story. The UN's ongoing biannual budget for 2004-2005 is a little over $3 billion; Israel's part in this is $14,757,200m. for the two years ($7.4m. for each year). So UN membership certainly adds up.


Given that in an average year, the UN General Assembly passes some 17 or 18 openly anti-Israel motions, it turns out that Israel is, in effect, "paying" close to $1m. per motion. We certainly get our money's worth.


If this doesn't make you see red, consider this: Israel this year is paying $2m. more than it did in 2003 (a hike of some 32%).


Among the 22 countries that are members of both the Arab League and the UN, only oil-rich Saudi Arabia pays more than Israel. We pay three times as much as petroleum producers Iran and Kuwait; four times as much as Egypt; 12 times as much as Syria, and 20 times what Lebanon has to pay.


The 22 Arab League states together contribute just 1.773% of the UN budget. (The Palestinians, with observer status, don't pay a cent.)


Until about two years ago, Israel paid less than $2m. a year and the US funded more than 25% of the UN's budget. When the US revolted and decided to pay only 22%, Madeleine Albright asked some of the US's friends to split the cost. Israel was among those who paid the price of friendship.


But how could it refuse? After all, other than Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, the US is the only friend we have at the "dear" old UN.



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