UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon has returned to the charge that was omitted from the list of states which harm children in conflict – that in its assault on Gaza in 2014 the IDF did not take steps to protect children from harm. Netanyahu has insisted that an unnamed group of senior generals has acquitted his country of all charges – and Hamas was worse, which seems an odd benchmark to use when assessing humanitarian concerns.
Judged by the results – at least 540 Palestinian children killed and 2,955 wounded by IDF airstrikes and shelling, one Israeli boy killed and four wounded – Israel and Hamas had earned their places on a UN list of those who had harmed children over the year. But intense lobbying by the US and Israel has ensured there will be no mention of either government.
The UN’s envoy for children and armed conflict has included Israel in a list of states which harm children. So far, the UN has accepted her list but is under heavy pressure from Israel and the US not to. The Israeli foreign ministry says “This is a heinous and hypocritical attempt to besmirch the image of Israel and it is doomed to fail.”
There is a strong current of opinion among those working on Israel-Palestine that the two-state solution is dead. Long time peace activist Gershon Baskin believes otherwise.The Palestinians are seeking recognition from EU countries and are drafting a Security Council resolution which, Baskin argues, has every chance of being adopted. This, together with a growing boycott movement and increasing pressure for sanctions could, believes Baskin, be a game changer.
The rise in settler attacks on Palestinians escalates – Israeli government deplores but does nothing other than allow the IDF to protect the attackers. Except for in Al Qusra where photos of settler thugs with bloody noses shocked Israelis. But, as Amira Hass points out, there has been no government response to the many attacks on Al Qusra. Given this history, the Palestinian response has been remarkably kindly.
Doublethink was George Orwell’s term, in 1984, for “the acceptance of contrary opinions or beliefs at the same time, especially as a result of political indoctrination”. A new paper reported by MERIP contrasts the arguments Israel used to gain admission to the UN in 1948-49 (essential for the peace process) with the arguments used by the US/Israel against Palestine gaining even UN Observer status in 2012 (it would harm the peace process.) Hat tip to G. Orwell.
Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, has delivered his last report to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. In it, he returned to the issue of corporate responsibility for Israel’s power to maintain the occupation and break international law. Diplomats don’t have the answer; opposition to complicit corporations plus popular resistance and with UN backing may be the only way.
If it weren’t so serious it would be comical watching how the US and Israeli do elaborate dances to ensure they and their vassals never have to hear, or judge by the standard of international law the daily breaches of Palestinian human and political rights carried out by Israel. But it’s not comical and former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk has been on on the receiving end of their tactics of ignorance. Palestinian passivity does not help – but then political passivity has become the hallmark of western ‘civilisations’, unnervingly like the 1930s.
The Palestinian village of Bil’in has filed a complaint with the United Nations against Canada for failing to prevent Canadian-based companies from aiding and benefiting from Israel’s settlement enterprise.
The governments of France and the UK will back the PA in its bid for UN observer status later this week, although for the UK this is conditional on the PA agreeing not to pursue Israel for war crimes. Campaigns to get the UK to recognise its historic responsibility for Palestine, and the need to boost Abbas’s status after the gains for Hamas in the Gaza war may have led to this change. Hamas now also supports the bid.
The final international session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, considering “US Complicity and UN Failings in Dealing with Israel’s Violations of International Law Toward the Palestinian People”, was held in New York city, October 6-7. Its conclusions include the use of social media to arouse public knowledge. UPDATE Frank Barat responds to criticisms.
American diplomatic policy is still driven by its notion of being the chief actor in finding a peace settlement; but, writes Ramzy Baroud (1st), the country cannot play this role, so complicit is it in past oppressive policies. Waiting in the wings is China, free of that history. But, 2nd, writing in 2011, Nima Khorrami Assl, points to China’s strategic interests, its support for the ‘peace process’ and reliance on US security in the region..
Hamas continues to carry out the death penalty – three men were executed on 7 April – for crimes of violence, drug trafficking and collaboration with Israeli state agencies (1). Both the UN Human Rights office (2) and the EU (3) deplore the practice, especially where trial proceedings fall below accepted standards. Accurate figures on the use of the death penalty worldwide are hard to get. Known figures are given in (4).
Khulood Badawi is an employee of OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), occupied Palestinian territories. She has been suspended from her job since March and Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, is demanding she be sacked. Her offence? She briefly uploaded a photo of a dead Gazan child which (like Reuters) she attributed to Israel’s March attack on Gaza. It wasn’t, and she removed it. She remains suspended and under investigation.
The ‘independent’ Jewish Agency, whose job was once to help Jews move to Israel, has changed its role to become ‘first responder to crises in Israel’ amongst other things (2). This means, says Richard Silverstein (1), prowling the social media to find enemies whom they can ‘skewer’. They found one in the UN’s Khulood Badawi – until their rebuttal was rebutted with some facts.
The continued imprisonment of teenagers held in solitary confinement by the Israeli government has sparked a concerted protest by professional people in the USA and Israel concerned with the welfare of young people. The psychological wounds inflicted constitute, in their view, cruel and inhuman treatment. This is not justified by Israel’s acknowledged security concerns.
Six months after the Obama administration scuppered Palestine’s bid for UN recognition saying negotiations with Israel should be the path, Americans are returning to the debate about what diplomacy can achieve. Slate organized the sold-out debate on 10th January – speakers’ advance positions are here. In the posting Daniel Kurtzer’s presents his strategy for a negotiated two-state deal
For the second time this year, Netanyahu has used his power as the tax-collecting authority for Palestinians to withhold their income. It is not clear whether this is to punish them for being accepted by UNESCO, or the PA’s bid to join the UN or for its imminent talks with Hamas. Reports from IMEMC and Ynet
Last week we posted a Washington Post opinion piece by Robert Bernstein attacking the UN and Human Rights groups for their attitude to Israel and Palestine, and a rejoinder by the Economist: http://jfjfp.com/?p=25704. Here Mouin Rabbani of Jadaliyya adds his voice to the outrage. Wikipedia’s entry on Palestine Media Watch is at the bottom
A founder of Human Rights Watch has moved from complaints of a general anti-Israel bias to accusing the Arab media of genocidal propaganda and the UN of fuelling anti-semitism and sees no gulf between Mahmoud Abbas and those who make their name through hate speech . 1st, an Economist critique of the article by Robert L. Bernstein, 2nd.