Thursday 25 December 2008

Israel against the United Nations

By Yusuf Fernandez, Press TV, Madrid

In recent weeks, numerous voices around the world have started to denounce the Israeli apartheid system and the crimes against humanity that the Zionist state has been committing against the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem (Al-Quds).

The response of the Zionist state has been to multiply its insults, provocations and attacks on international organizations, such as the United Nations, and its officials.

The last one of these offences has been the detention at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv and subsequent expulsion of Richard Falk, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Falk was on his way to the Palestinian occupied territories to carry out his officially mandated functions.

Falk's mobile phone was confiscated in order to prevent him from contacting other officials of the United Nations before his deportation. He was also forced to spend 20 hours in a small room in the Ben Gurion Airport before being put on a plane bound for Los Angeles.

The UN Human Rights Council condemned the Israeli decision on December 16 by calling it 'unprecedented and deeply regrettable'.

"It is the responsibility of States to cooperate with the independent United Nations experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay said.

The detention of Richard Falk meant a clear violation of UN immunities, which protect UN envoys and their activities. Falk had been invited by the Palestinian Authority to visit the occupied territories in order to check the numerous and continued violations of the legal and humanitarian rules by Israeli authorities.

However, the Israeli authorities were probably very worried about the facts that Falk could find out or check during his visit to Palestine. He had previously published a statement in which he said that the UN must "implement the agreed norm of a responsibility to protect a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a crime against humanity." He added that it would seem "mandatory" that the UN's International Criminal Court investigate Israeli policies with regard to the Palestinians.

In other words, the civilized world and its institutions cannot continue to look the other way while Israel is committing all kinds of awful crimes against the Palestinian people.

Many politicians in the West have been taking a cowardly approach on Israeli policies due to their fear of the Zionist lobby operating in some Western countries.

In this way, they have supported strong measures to confront the government of Serbia, or more recently, have denounced the situation in Zimbabwe, but they have sustained a suspected silence relating to Israeli crimes, although these latter ones are much more terrible than anything that Serbian or Zimbabwean governments have been able to do.

Falk has also been outspoken when he denounced the siege of Gaza. "Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease." The Israeli army has prevented food, fuel and humanitarian aid from entering the Strip in order to starve the Palestinian population into surrender. Falk pointed out that the Palestinian population was being collectively punished by Israeli policies 'that amount to a crime against humanity'.

Falk said it was "mandatory" that the United Nation's International Criminal Court investigate Israel's policies towards the Palestinians. "The court could determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law," he said.

He has not been the only UN official who has publicly clashed with Israel.

According to the Washington Post, the United Nations' General Assembly President, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, who condemned Israel's treatment of Falk and blamed Israeli diplomats for inciting death threats against him, has compared Israel's policies with regards to the Palestinians to South Africa's treatment of blacks under apartheid.

He added that it was important for the United Nations to use the heavily-charged term since it was the institution itself that had passed the International Convention against the crime of apartheid. "We must not be afraid to call something what it is," he said.

It is noteworthy to point out that the Israeli Foreign Minister; Tzipi Livni has also threatened Arab-Israelis with expulsion after saying that Israel should be exclusively a 'Jewish state'.

What would the international community have said if the South African apartheid regime, in a similar way, had demanded recognition of its country as a 'white and democratic state', thus de facto accepting the racist system that considered non-whites as inferior people?

Another UN official, Karen Abu Zayd, an American who is commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the agency that is responsible for the welfare of 4.7 million of Palestinian refugees, has denounced Israel preventing UN humanitarian staff from using their diplomatic pouch, according to the Independent.

Israeli officials have given no reason for the move, which is a clear breach of international law. "We can't send the mail out or get any mail in. I don't think they could give a reason because there is no way they could justify it," Mrs. Abu Zayd told the British newspaper. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon himself has recently complained that Israel had refused his request to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

According to the Independent, the Israelis "issued for the first time a written list of goods that cannot be sent into Gaza for UN humanitarian needs. The list, which has baffled UN officials, includes spices, kitchenware, glassware, yarn and paper."

"UN cars are lying idle for lack of tires and oil, office photocopiers cannot be mended and computers are not allowed into Gaza," Abu Zayd said. "And we are supposed to have privileges and immunities."

The British newspaper pointed out that until now the UN had privately protested against the Israeli measures but Mrs. AbuZayd's decision to speak out openly about the crisis was a sign of the level of frustration within the international organization.

Some prominent public figures such as the 1976 Nobel peace prize laureate, Mairead McGuire from Ireland, are promoting a popular movement demanding that the United Nations revoke Israel's membership. The international community appears to be willing to put pressure on the Israeli regime in order to stop its war crimes. McGuire has also reminded that Israel holds the infamous world record of ignoring UN resolutions.

The recent attacks of the Zionists against the UN officials show its desperation and isolation. Israel is a rogue state that has been violating uncountable international rules and an increasing number of world personalities and leaders have already said that it is time to stop the Israeli crimes. However, this will only be possible if the international community approves harder measures against Israel.

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