I just loved this statement to the the UN Security Council by former Ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor.
In a few sentences it starkly exposes the UN for what it has become, an instrument of anti-Israel sentiment which is seriously failing to address properly many of the world’s most urgent conflicts and problems because of this obsession with one country and one conflict.
I cannot resist quoting it virtually in full because it says almost everything that needs to be said
Thank you, Mr. President.
Let me begin by reminding this Council that the name of today’s debate is the “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” – and not vice versa. This morning I’d like to take the unusual step of actually focusing on the situation in the Middle East.
Let me assure you that I will give proper attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, first, let’s look at the facts: the Middle East is in turmoil. Thousands of innocents have been gunned down in the streets. People are calling for their freedom and demanding their rights. Yet, month after month, this Council focuses disproportionately on one and only one conflict in our region.
I don’t claim that this Council does not deal with the situations of specific countries in the Middle East. It does. However, I think it is time to start connecting the dots so that we can face the bigger picture.
For generations, the Arab world has failed miserably to address the needs of its own people. The United Nations Development Program has sponsored five “Arab Human Development Reports” since 2002. Year after year, the Arab researchers who write these reports offer a glimpse into the real world of the Middle East. Young people struggle without access to jobs and education. Women are denied basic rights. Free expression is repressed. Minorities are persecuted. Elections are a sham.
And with their world in flames, Arab leaders continue to blame Israel and the West for all their problems. For years, it’s the only explanation that they have been able to offer to their own people. From time to time, they spice up the story. When a shark attacked a tourist in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, the local Egyptian governor suggested that the Mossad was using sharks to harm Egyptian tourism. Everything wrong in the Middle East, according to many Arab leaders, is simply Israel’s fault. If it’s not the Mossad, it’s the CIA, or MI6, or some other “foreign force”.
Today the people of the Middle East demand real answers for their plight. We have seen their brave stands in public squares. We have heard their cries. And we have witnessed the deadly response to these calls for freedom.
In Hama, Daraa and Latakia, the Syrian regime slaughters its citizens in a desperate bid to hold onto power. Some members of this council remain blind to Assad’s brutality.
In Libya, the reign of Moammar Qaddafi is over after more than 40 years of repression and many months of bloodshed. The Libyan despot’s violent end illustrated what Churchill once described as a signal disadvantage of the dictator: what he does to others may often be done back to him. This truth haunts the minds of many leaders in our region – and Qaddafi’s fate rings an alarm for them.
In Iran, an Ayatollah regime represses its own people as it helps other tyrants to butcher theirs. Last week, UN Special Rapporteur Shaheed briefed the General Assembly, offering a chilling picture of daily life in Iran. His report highlighted “a pattern of systemic violations of… fundamental human rights… including multifarious deficits in relation to the administration of justice… practices that amount to torture… the imposition of the death penalty in the absence of proper judicial safeguards… the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, and the erosion of civil and political rights.”
Iran remains the world’s central banker, chief trainer and primary sponsor of terror. Recent events have shown that its state-directed terrorist activities extend from the Persian Gulf to the Washington Beltway, with targets that range from innocent protestors to foreign soldiers to official diplomatic representatives. This is the way the regime behaves today. One can only imagine what it would do with a nuclear capability – with the dangerous combination of extremist ideology, advanced missile technology and nuclear weapons.
IAEA reports make clear that Iran continues to march toward the goal of a nuclear bomb in defiance of the international community. We cannot allow it to place the entire world under the specter of nuclear terrorism. The world must stop Iran before it is too late.
Yes, Mr. President,
The Middle East is trembling. Its future is uncertain. And two roads stand before us.
There is the future offered by Iranian and Syrian leaders – a future of more extremism, greater violence and continued hate. Their vision will not liberate human beings, it will enslave them. It does not build, it destroys. And there is another road – a path of progress, reform and moderation.
The choice before us is clear – and it has never been more critical to make the right choice for the future of the Middle East and all its inhabitants. It is time for this Council to stop ignoring the destructive forces that seek to keep the Middle East in the past, so that we can seize the promise of a brighter future.
Make no mistake: it is important for Israel and the Palestinians to resolve our longstanding conflict. It is important on its own merits, so that Israelis and Palestinians alike can lead peaceful, secure and prosperous lives. But it will not produce a sudden outbreak of stability, harmony and democratization from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. And seriously addressing the underlying problems of the Middle East will be essential for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace.
The road to peace can only be built on a foundation of mutual recognition and dialogue.
A month ago, President Abbas stood in this building and said the following:
“I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him).”
He denied 4,000 years of Jewish history. It was not a small omission. It was not an oversight. The Palestinian leadership attempts to erase the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.
Others in the Arab world have offered a different message. For example, in 1995, King Hussein came to the United States and said: “For our part, we shall continue to work for the new dawn when all the Children of Abraham and their descendants are living together in the birthplace of their three great monotheistic religions.” Let me repeat this. King Hussein said three monotheistic religions, not one or two.
Those who seek peace do not negate the narrative of the other side. On the contrary, they recognize its existence and choose to sit down and negotiate peace in good faith. This is what President Sadat did. This is what King Hussein did.
The ancient Jewish bond to the land of Israel is unbreakable. This is our homeland. The UN recognized Israel as a Jewish state 64 years ago. It is time for the Palestinians and the more than 20 Muslim countries around the globe to do the same.
Let there be no doubt: Israel wants peace with a future Palestinian state. Let me repeat that: Israel wants peace with a future Palestinian state. In word and in deed, my government has demonstrated time and again that we seek two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in peace.
Prime Minister Netanyahu stood in this hall last month and issued a clear call to President Abbas. Let me reiterate that call today to the Palestinians. Sit down with Israel. Leave your preconditions behind. Start negotiations now.
The international community has called on the Palestinians to go back to negotiations. Israel has accepted the principles outlined by the Quartet to restart negotiations immediately, without preconditions. We are waiting for the Palestinians to do the same.
The Palestinians suggest that settlements are the core cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s an interesting assertion considering that our conflict was raging for nearly a half century before a single settlement sprung up in the West Bank. From 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza was part of Egypt. The Arab world did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. And it sought Israel’s annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza.
The issue of settlements will be worked out over the course of negotiations, but the primary obstacle to peace is not settlements. This is a just a pretext for the Palestinians to avoid negotiations. The primary obstacle to peace is the Arab world’s refusal to acknowledge the Jewish people’s ancient connection to the Land of Israel – and the Palestinian’s insistence on the so-called right of return.
Today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but insists that its people return to the Jewish state. It’s a proposition that no one who believes in the right of Israel to exist could accept because the only equation in political science with mathematical certainty is that the so-called right of return equals the destruction of the State of Israel. The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians is a non-starter. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren’t hearing it. This gap between perception and reality is the major obstacle to peace. The so-called right of return is the major hurdle to achieving peace.
Since the Palestinian leadership refuses to tell the Palestinian people the truth, the international community has a responsibility to tell the Palestinian people about the basic compromises that they will have to make.
The many issues that remain outstanding can only – and will only – be resolved in direct negotiations between the parties. Israel’s peace with Egypt was negotiated, not imposed. Our peace with Jordan was negotiated, not imposed. Israeli-Palestinian peace must be negotiated. It cannot be imposed. The Palestinians’ unilateral action at the United Nations is no path to real statehood. It is a march of folly.
Today the Palestinians are far from meeting the basic criteria for statehood, including the test of effective control. The President of the Palestinian Authority has zero authority in the Gaza Strip. Before flying 9,000 kilometers to New York to seek UN membership, President Abbas should have driven 50 kilometers to Gaza, where he has been unable to visit since 2007.
In the same breath that they claim their state will be “peace-loving”, Palestinian leaders speak of their unity with Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization. Hamas and “peace-loving”? There is no greater contradiction in terms. This month, on a fundraising excursion for terrorism with his Iranian patrons, Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh stood in front of an audience in Tehran and said, “the correct strategy to liberate our country and Jerusalem is violent resistance.”
Under Hamas rule, Gaza remains a launching ground for constant rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, which are fueled by the continuous flow of weapons from Iran and elsewhere. Israel has the right to defend itself. As the Palmer report made clear, the naval blockade is a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea.
When it is not attacking Israelis, Hamas is oppressing its own people. In Gaza, civil society is nonexistent, political opponents are tortured, women are subjugated, and children are used as suicide bombers and human shields. Textbooks and television glorify martyrdom and demonize Jews. Incitement against Israelis also continues in the West Bank and in the official institutions of the Palestinian Authority, which names its public squares after suicide bombers.
The unresolved questions about a future Palestinian state cannot be simply swept under the carpet. They go to the core of resolving our conflict. They have to be addressed. Let me be clear: for Israel, the question is not whether we can accept a Palestinian state. We can. The question is what will be the character of the state that emerges alongside us and whether it will live in peace.
The Palestinians’ unilateral action at the UN breaches the Oslo Accords, the Interim Agreement, the Paris Protocol and other bilateral agreements that form the basis for 40 spheres of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation – all of which could be jeopardized by a unilateral action at the UN. This unilateral initiative will raise expectations that cannot be met. It is a recipe for instability and potentially, violence. Members of the international community should be clear about their responsibilities: You vote for it, you own it. All those who vote for unilateral recognition will be responsible for its consequences.
At this critical juncture, the Palestinians’ true friends will encourage them to put aside the false idol of unilateralism and get back to the hard work of direct negotiations.
Speaking of friends, the many so-called Arab champions of the Palestinian cause have a responsibility to play a constructive role. Constructive support from the Arab world is vital for building the civic and economic structures necessary for real Palestinian statehood and peace. Instead of simply adding to the chorus of state-bashing, the Palestinians true supporters will help advance state-building.
Arab donors provided just 20 percent of the international funds for the Palestinian Authority’s regular budget last year. Let me put this in perspective: last year, Arab donations to the regular PA budget accounted for a little more than half of what Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal spent on his newest personal luxury jet. People in Washington, London, and Paris are struggling with an economic downturn, but still providing the bulk of support for Palestinian institutions, while Arab states saturated in petrol dollars don’t even give the Palestinians crumbs off the table.
In the Jewish tradition, we are taught: “Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe.” This sacred principle forms the backbone of Israel’s democracy. It drives our government’s policy. We witnessed a clear reflection of these values last week – as all of Israel welcomed home our kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, after more than five years in Hamas captivity. It was a moment of great joy, but it came with tremendous costs.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General personally and some of the countries represented here today that played an important role in the release of Gilad Shalit.
For us, the supreme value of a single human life justified releasing more than a thousand terrorists and criminals covered in the blood of innocents.
The values inherent in such an act shine bright in our region. Many took note. On Twitter, one Syrian blogger, Soori Madsoos, wrote “Their government is prepared to pay the ultimate price for one citizen, while our government kills us like we are animals and our Arab neighbors say that it’s an internal matter.” Time and again, Israel has shown that it is ready and able to make bold and courageous decisions to preserve life, to uphold human dignity and to pursue peace.
Sustainable peace must be negotiated. It must be nurtured. It must be anchored in security. It must take root in homes, schools and media that teach tolerance and understanding, so that it can grow in hearts and minds. It must be built on a foundation of younger generations that understand the compromises necessary for peace. A brighter future in the Middle East must be forged from within, when we are open and honest about the challenges before us – and resolute in our determination to meet them together.
This week we witnessed Mahmoud Abbas presenting his bid for recognition of a state of Palestine to the United Nations General Assembly.
We heard the rapturous applause he received entering the UNGA.
We heard the rather less rapturous greeting received by Israel Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu whose few supporters in the UNGA tried desperately to raise the decibels of applause.
It was clear that whatever the outcome of the Palestinian bid, there is no doubt it was a PR success for Abbas and has highlighted Israel’s growing isolation.
So let’s first look at Israel’s standing in the popularity stakes versus Turkey’s; once good friends, now anything but.
Israel’s support from the US was bolstered by President Obama’s speech where he signalled his country’s intention to use the veto in the UN Security Council, if necessary and a strong affirmation of the need to settle the conflict via negotiations. Canada has also come out strongly on Israel’s side.
The Europeans are fence-sitting, but Spain’s unexpected declaration confirming Israel as the Jewish national home was a welcome plus for Israel.
The UK is waiting to make its decision in the UNSC but will probably abstain whilst making the usual noises about Israel’s right to security. Other European countries, including France, have made similar declarations.
Any vote in the UNGA to enhance the Palestinian status from observer to non-member state will clearly demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of UN member states recognise the State of Palestine.
In short, the UN shennanigans of the PLO have further highighted Israel’s isolation and its reliance on the USA.
Recently, in Egypt, as a result of the Arab Spring, the long-standing peace agreement with Israel, a legally binding agreement, has been questioned. The pipeline which provides Israel with 20% of its gas has been blown up for a sixth time.
A terror attack near Eilat a few weeks ago was launched via Egypt and some of the participants may have been Egyptian. The subsequent tragic death of Eagyptian border police during the Israeli pursuit of the murderers of eight innocent people further enflamed sentiments in Egypt.
The attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo which almost resulted in the lynching of six Israeli security officers has emphasised an undercurrent of anti-Israel anti-Jewish sentiment in Egypt which is bubbling to the surface as new freedoms materialise.
Egypt will not even sell palm leaves to Israel for the Succot festival which comes immediately after Yom Kippur. A mean and childish act which pretty much tells you what ‘Cold Peace’ means.
In Jordan, King Abdullah appears to be keen to bolster his popularity in a country which is 80% Palestinian and whose people are also making noises about their own peace treaty with Israel.
And, most importantly, Israel’s long-standing friendship with Turkey is not only in ruins, but Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pursuing a series of belligerent measure against Israel politically, economically, juridically and militarily.
Turkey’s actions are ostensibly in response to Israel’s refusal to apologise to Turkey for the death of nine Turkish passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara when Israel intercepted their boat in order to enforce its blockade of Gaza. But relations have been cooling for some time. The national affront which Turkey cites as its reasons for punishing Israel may be covering its drift away from Ataturk secularism toward a form of democratic Islamism.
However, Israel’s loss of Turkish friendship may have released it to forge other friendships which highlight Turkey’s growing isolation.
On the principal, it seems, that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, Greece, a country not previously known for its affection for Israel, has strengthened ties.
The forty-year-old festering European sore that is the division of Cyprus, which somehow remains firmly under the world’s radar, is an important issue for Greece and Turkey.
Israel has signed agreements with the (Greek) Cypriot’s to co-operate on gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, angering the Turks who have made more belligerent noises about Turkish Cypriot rights to the potential bonanza in the seeming belief that only Turkey has any rights in this field.
Israel’s gas exploration is at a juncture of Lebanese, Israeli and Cypriot waters which Lebanon is disputing and Turkey, naturally, supports Lebanon’s position against Israel.
Israel has also been active in the new state of South Sudan quickly establishing diplomatic and commercial ties.
In West Africa there is a surprising rapprochement with Nigeria, a country with a large Muslim population and sectarian divisions.
Israel is a major trade partner with Turkey’s neighbour Armenia and has recently supported moves for recognition of the Armenian genocide, a move which Turkey cannot be expected to approve given its 100 yer denial of being the perpetrator of that genocide. Israel’s break in relations with Turkey have released it from the fear of causing offence to its former friend.
Moves by Prime Minister Erdogan to pressurise Azerbaijan to cut ties with Israel have, so far, not succeeded. Azerbaijan is an important link in the oil pipeline to Israel. Any moves to cut off that oil would be in contravention of international law and would have to be seen as an Act of War by Israel if Turkey should pursue that particular enterprise.
Israel remains one of only two countries whose citizens do not require visas to visit Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile the perceived thuggishness of Erdogan and his attempted bullying of Israel have done him no favours.
He has threatened the EU should Cyprus take the chair of the EU next year; a somewhat hollow threat coming from a country which still has plans to join the EU.
Turkey’s relationship with Iran is strained as both vie for power in the region and disagree about policy toward President Assad in Syria.
Recently, Turkey agreed to the placing of a NATO radar system as part of the West’s defence against, presumably, Iran furthering that country’s suspicions of its neighbour.
Erdogan’s visit to Egypt had a mixed reception once he berated them about democracy.
Turkey’s new policy to actively patrol the Eastern Mediterranean will send warning signs to Greece and Cyprus as well as Israel. The UK and Italy may also be nervous.
Incidents at the UN between Erdogan’s body guards and UN security as well as an attempted attack on Erdogan by an unknown assailant have all shored up the impression of his being part Mafioso part head of state.
So Turkey still has one foot in the West and one in the East and is playing the game well to the extent that the US and NATO seem unfazed by Turkey’s belligerence toward Israel and have asked the two countries to patch up their disagreement.
The US has agreed to drone sales to Turkey to replace its Israeli ones and NATO is shtum when it comes to the problematical membership of a country which has ties with Islamist regimes inimical to NATO.
But how many real friends does Turkey now have? Not Syria, not Iran, not Israel or Greece. If it carries on it will soon alert the Europeans and the US to pressurise it further to tone things down.
Turkey’s new-found nationalist pride which presents itself in the form of sabre-rattling and muscle-flexing on the international scene is a direct result of America’s and Europe’s perceived weakening due to financial disasters, low growth, potential inflation and increasing civil unrest. And you can add to that two pretty disastrous excursions in Iraw and Afghanistam which make further military adventures improbable.
Countries like Turkey and Iran sense a growing power vacuum and are testing the waters, literally, to see how far they can push before they meet resistance.
Any economic recovery in America and Europe would be a severe blow to countries waiting in the wings to pick the bones of Europe and the USA.
If Turkey sullies its good relations with Russia by trying to punch above its weight, then isolation would become a reality. However, recent commercial deals and mutual interests in the Caucasus make this a remote possibility. Nevertheless, Russia has sent warships to the Eastern Mediterranean to protect Cypriot gas exploration. Turkey will not want to confront Russia.
Turkey also has problems with Kurdish separatists, the PKK, and tensions with Iran or even Iraq could be problematical.
Turkey is in a unique position geographically and is seen and behaves as a conduit between the West and the Muslim world.
But if you judge each country by its real friends (whatever friend means in international relations) then it’s pretty even between Israel and Turkey.
It is a tragedy that a great country like Turkey seems to be determined to make waves in the Mediterranean as well in diplomatic circles rather than nurturing its ties with Israel, mending fences and performing an important role as a bridge between the West and the Islamic world.
Erdogan’s behaviour is anything but statesmanlike. His recent speech in the UN stating that Israel is still trading off the Holocaust as well as claims that Israel has killed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians place him as borderline antisemitic.
Although he may be a hero to those who like bashing Israel, to the rest of the world he is a dangerous man who could light the fuse of a new war in the Middle East.
It will be interesting to see how the two countries fare over the coming months as things develop in the Middle East, Europe and in the USA where President Obama’s hoped for second term looks to be in serious trouble.
Are we are seeing the beginning of a new polarised alignment of powers as the former hegemonies of the US and Europe are diluted?
A period of dangerous instability with Israel at the epicentre may be upon us.
It is a little-known fact that of all the nations with full member status of the United Nations, Israel alone is singled out for special treatment.
In a damning report from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Alan Baker describes an intolerable situation whereby Israel is treated like no other state at the UN and is effectively denied equal rights to membership of several UN bodies the chief cause being the built-in anti-Israel majority in these bodies, populated as they are, by several nations with appalling human rights violations.
Baker tells us that it is:
the most elementary and basic right of all states: to be regarded and accepted, and to conduct itself vis-à-vis other states on the basis of full equality
During the initial drafting of the Charter of the United Nations, the expert in jurisprudence Hans Kelsen, in an article in the 1944 Yale Law Journal, makes reference to the Moscow Declaration of October 1943 in which the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China jointly declared that they recognized “the necessity of establishing at the earliest practicable date a general international organization, based on the principle of sovereign equality of all peace-loving States and open to membership by all such States, large and small for the maintenance of international peace and security.
It is interesting to note how the concept of ‘peace-loving’ was a prerequisite of membership and how a significant number of current UN members are anything but. Furthermore, there appears to be no mechanism or will to expel member states that fail to meet that criterion, as ill-defined as it is.
So, under international law, Israel has complete equality with all and any other state. This refers to ‘juridical equality’ and enshrines the important concept that states, by use of their economic or military power cannot make claim to special rights and privileges that are not afforded equally to all states, be it Palau or Russia, Montenegro or China. Like citizens of a democracy, each state is subject to the same treatment before the law, that is international law, without exception.
In theory, at least.
This right is a fundamental principle of the UN charter itself.
Baker goes on to tell us that these rights were given further clarification in 1970:
All States enjoy sovereign equality. They have equal rights and duties and are equal members of the international community, notwithstanding differences of an economic, social, political or other nature.
In particular, sovereign equality includes the following elements:
(a) States are judicially equal;
(b) Each State enjoys the rights inherent in full sovereignty;
(c) Each State has the duty to respect the personality of other States;
(d) The territorial integrity and political independence of the State are inviolable;
(e) Each State has the right freely to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems;
(f) Each State has the duty to comply fully and in good faith with its international obligations and to live in peace with other States.
It does not take too much head searching to realise these noble concepts are observed more in the breach by a large number of states.
We are then told by Baker that these rights are clearly only ‘theoretical’ and that the UN itself does not treat all states as equal, despite its own charter.
And can you guess the principle, indeed, unique recipient of this unequal treatment?
in Israel’s case where the assumptions inherent in sovereign equality –
judicial equality, equality of voting, equality in participation in all UN activities and processes, and equality in membership in all fora – break down and leave Israel isolated and discriminated against.
How is this discrimination achieved and how and why is it allowed to continue?
Baker refers us to the Regional Group System which underpins much of the UN’s work which was designed, ironically, to give ‘equitable geographical representation’.
The regional group system has become the central mechanism for the representation and participation of UN Members in the UN system. Membership of a regional group is the only way full participation in the work of the UN system can be ensured.
So exclusion from your regional group means exclusion from the major organs of the UN and international representation.
Israel, being geographically in a group dominated by enemies and Islamic countries never manages to have a representative elected. This is because these groups have autonomy and exclude Israel in contravention of the principles of the UN, whilst some of the most putrid and criminal nations on earth have representation.
Since Israel is excluded from its geographical regional group – the Asian Group (by vote of the Arab and Muslim members of that group) – and is not accepted as a full member in the Western European and Others Group, and does not enjoy any other special or ex-officio position in the United Nations, Israel is, to all intents and purposes, denied its Charter-guaranteed equality.
This has serious consequences:
In such a situation Israel can never put up its candidacy for membership of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, or the other major UN organs such as the International Court of Justice, it is denied any chance of having its jurists chosen as candidates for the major juridical institutions, tribunals, and courts within the UN system, and it cannot participate in consultations between states, organized within the regional group system, to determine positions and voting on issues, resolutions, and other matters.
Even world-renowned experts are denied a voice. The UN itself has recognised this anomaly. The Secretary General stated in 1998:
Israel could do much more for the United Nations were it not for a significant obstacle:
its status as the only Member State that is not a member of a regional group, which is the basis of participation in many United Nations bodies and activities
Israel cannot sit on the Security Council – the only nation thus excluded. Similarly, membership of International Court of Justice is also denied.
The attempts to have Israel to be part of another regional group have not met with any great success. Nor does there appear to be any remedy for this anomaly.
What is even more ridiculous is the thought that if a state of Palestine were given full membership it would be afforded the rights denied to Israel.
This isolation is not confined to the UN.
This filters down through the BDS campaign to exclude Israeli goods, academics and even performing artists from international forums and events.
When it comes to soccer, Israel has to qualify in the European groups because FIFA never had the guts to exclude nations who would refuse to play Israel or include it in the Asian associations. At club level, Israeli teams have to play in the European Championship and Europa Cup.
Iranians refuse to compete against Israelis in the Olympics or to acknowledge them on the same podium.
Two year ago Shachar Peer was denied entry to Qatar to play in a tennis tournament.
Israel is truly the Jew among the nations of the world yet many of those opposing this tiny country and the Jewish nation continue their absurd and antisemitic claims of Jewish world hegemony, financial power and malign conspiracies.
And all this whilst Iran, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Libya, Syria, Burma, China, Somalia, Yemen and any number of tyrannical serial human rights abusers suffer no such treatment.
It is surprising that Israel does not do more to find its voice at the highest levels of international discourse.
Its exclusion is a disgrace and diminishes the UN and its many organs to mouthpieces of hypocrisy, antisemitism and genocide.
Let there be no doubt about the true intention of the Palestinian statehood bid after this. [RC]
Palestinian Arab “refugees” wouldn’t be citizens of “Palestine” – even if they live there!
Did you think that 63 years of Arabs using the “refugees” as political pawns would end if there was a Palestinian Arab state?
If you want to know the depths of cynicism of the Palestinian Arab leadership towards their people, you must read this article in The Daily Star Lebanon:
Palestinian refugees will not become citizens of a new Palestinian state, according to Palestine’s ambassador to Lebanon.
From behind a desk topped by a miniature model of Palestine’s hoped-for blue United Nations chair, Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah spoke to The Daily Star Wednesday about Palestine’s upcoming bid for U.N. statehood.
The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state, an issue that has been much discussed. “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,” he says. “But … they are not automatically citizens.”
This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”
Let’s read that again, shall we?
“Even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”
People who live in camps in their own state would be barred, by their own leaders, from becoming citizens of that very state!
Why? Because, to Palestinian Arab leaders, the “refugees” are not an oppressed group who must be helped. They are human weapons in a never ending war against Israel. Giving them citizenship removes their status as weapons.
The most important issue to the Palestinian Arab leadership is not to end the suffering of their people, or achieving independence. It is to destroy Israel, using the nonexistent “right of return.” Nothing could be more obvious – yet most of the world refuses to believe that Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies could possibly be so indescribably cruel and callous to their own people.
Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.
Neither this definitional status nor U.N. statehood, Abdullah says, would affect the eventual return of refugees to Palestine. “How the issue of the right of return will be solved I don’t know, it’s too early [to say], but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with and solved [with] the acceptance of all.” He says statehood “will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”
The right of return that Abdullah says is to be negotiated would not only apply to those Palestinians whose origins are within the 1967 borders of the state, he adds. “The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine. When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”
And make it easier for Palestinian Arabs to achieve their real goal – the end of the Jewish state.
For 63 years, three generations of Palestinian Arabs are being brought up being told that they must return to a non-existent state that their ancestors came from, and nothing else is acceptable. And the potential establishment of a Palestinian Arab state would ironically make their wishes to become citizens even more remote.
If there is to be a Palestinian Arab uprising, it should be against leaders like these who are happy to tell their own people to stay in hell – and to be happy about it.
In an announcement that gives hypocrisy a good name, the Palestine Liberation Organisaiton ambassador to the United States announced yesterday, as reported by USA Today:
that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews…
After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated
So opined Maen Areikat without an ounce of irony. He played it with a straight bat.
It must be true that the very best bigots are so unaware of their own bigotry that they can let drop statements like this with complete sang froid.
Such statements would be common currency in Apartheid South Africa or the Deep South of the United States in the heyday of Jim Crow.
It’s not that we hate and have spent 100 years trying to annihilate the Jews, it’s just that the very sight of them in a Free Palestine might freak the children.
Yet it is Israel that is constantly accused of being Apartheid and racist, claims which are demonstrably false. The perpetrators of this lie point to the Israeli-only roads on the West Bank, the ‘Apartheid Wall’. They don’t mention the complete equality under law of all Israeli citizens or the fact that West Bank Arabs are not Israeli citizens and the West Bank has never been annexed.
Now, as I have frequently written, I am not a fan of settlements. I do favour land swaps for Israeli towns along the Green Line that are contiguous with Israel.
I am well aware that there are ‘frictions’, that some settlers behave abominably, that acts of vandalism occur, that the Palestinians are an inconvenient reality to many Israelis and that their are restrictions and, yes, abuses of human rights.
I am also aware that the separation is necessary because of security but that the status quo is not supportable and cannot go on forever.
So when it comes to a Palestinian state, I support two states living side by side with mutual respect and co-operation. But we ain’t there yet.
But let’s go back to Mr Areikat:
it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated
Is this not what was proposed in 1947? Have not similar statements from Israelis when speaking of land swaps and voluntary transfer invoked howls of ‘racists’, ‘Apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’?
But look at what is being proposed: a Palestinian state without a single Jew and a Jewish state with 20% non-Jews.
And what’s more, the creation of a Palestinian state would not end the claims for a Right of Return for several million Arabs to live in Israel.
If the Palestinians can ethically cleanse their land of Jews, why not the Israelis of Arabs? Of course, they have no such intention.
As Oren Dorell in the USA Today article goes on to tell us:
Such a state would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews, said Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. National Security Council official.
Israel has 1.3 million Muslims who are Israeli citizens. Jews have lived in “Judea and Samaria,” the biblical name for the West Bank, for thousands of years. Areikat said the PLO seeks a secular state, but that Palestinians need separation to work on their own national identity.
‘Work on their own national identity’? What does that mean. Maybe Israel had to work on its national identity in 1948, then. How can it be right to perpetrate the very acts that the Palestinians and the world at large has been accusing Israel of for the last 63 years?
This is not just double-standards it’s moral bankruptcy, racism and anti-Semitism masquerading as nationalism. Now where have we hard that before? I think Elliott Abrams in the quote above will give you are clue.
I really cannot wait to see the far Left’s reactions and justifications for a judenrein Palestine. I bet there’ll be some good’uns.
And all this in the context of the Palestinian Authority’s bid for recognition this month in the UN General Assembly.
One should also recall that the PLO was formed in 1964 before Israel’s ‘occupation’. So what was it trying to liberate? Answer: Israel. Then as now the intention of the PLO, Hamas and Fatah has been to eliminate Israel.
Today the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced the UK was pulling out of Durban III, a modern-day pogrom without physical casualties. A UN sponsored human rights conference starring Iran’s Ahmadinejad and a bevvy of hate-spitting human rights abusers who want to tell the world that it is Israel, not they who are racists.
So Cameron’s action sounds good, but it could be the good news before the bad news.
The bad news may be that the UK will decide to support the bid for Palestinian statehood. See Melanie Phillips for her analysis of the government position and why the bid is anti-peace.
HMG have frequently asserted that the UK will not take sides and make up its mind when it sees the context of the bid.
But the UK should take sides.
How can a democratic country support the creation of a terrorist racist state next door to its supposed ally?
The answer is fairly simple: realpolitik. The conflict is like a wound that won’t heal. The world wants to get rid of it at any cost, including the cost of Israel. There is a demented belief that the Israel-Palestine conflict is the linchpin to securing better relations with the Arab and Muslim world.
To enable themselves to agree to such a monstrosity the UK and other Western governments have to believe their own rhetoric; they must paint the Palestinians as victims who deserve an end to their suffering. Israel is the aggressor and a stubborn one. So Accords and agreements and UN resolutions which are always used to beat Israel with can now be thrown on to the garbage heap, airbrushed from history, because the Palestinians want a state without negotiating one.
The fact that the PA admits that this is just a tactic, a first step on the road to the annihilation of Israel is dismissed or ignored. The fact that Hamas doesn’t want a state, because that might mean giving up claims to Israel, passes them by. The fact that Hamas and the PA are not unified is also ignored. The fact that they want a judenrein Palestine because, poor dears, the sight of a Jew will retard their ability to form a national identity is accepted.
They will not have a state at the end of the process. They will have a propaganda victory. But worse, those amongst them for whom international law and the UN GA is somewhat of a mystery will conveniently claim that they now have a clear UN mandate to expel the Jews from their country, Palestine, even though no such country will exist any more than it does now. The result will be disastrous.
All this stunt will do is cause more killing and suffering. But that’s OK for the Palestinians and their supporters; the more they are killed the more they suffer, the more they can claim victim-hood and go with their bleeding hearts to the International Court of Justice (which their new status may allow) with pictures of dead babies and take out lawsuits against the Jewish ‘settlers’.
Israel will be further isolated and made a pariah.
Israel will truly be the Jew among states. Or maybe now I should say ‘Palestinian’.
… what the F… is going on!?
The much vaunted Flotilla 2 failed to get beyond Greek waters. The Mavi Marmara, star of Flotilla 1 was withdrawn under pressure from the Turkish government and the original 1500 became only a few hundred which rapidly dwindled to nothing.
Israel actually succeeded in bringing Greece and Turkey together in preventing a confrontation at sea!
And now the ongoing aerial assault on Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, know as ‘Flytilla’ or ‘Airtilla’ has also foundered as France, the Netherlands and others prevent ‘activists’ intent on causing trouble, from flying to Israel.
Meanwhile at Ben Gurion, those who have managed to land find themselves at a remote terminal, well away from the main tourist area, and are either put on the next flight or arrested.
Israel has every right to deny entry to anyone it pleases, for whatever reason it chooses as a sovereign nation. These ‘activists’ are intent on challenging Israel’s sovereignty, not helping Palestinians.
You can find it in their rhetoric; they are flying to ‘Lyd’ airport in ‘Palestine’. Get it? Israel is Palestine. They are not coming to protest blockades, sieges or occupation, they are coming to delegitimise Israel itself.
Those taking part in both fiascos are a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites. They wouldn’t even allow their so-called fig-leaf humanitarian aid to be shipped to Israel and then taken by the Israelis into Gaza.
They came intent on breaking one blockade and then ended up having to contend with two as the Greek port authorities blocked their departure or chased them as they tried to slip away.
There was even the irony of Gazans staging demonstrations against the Greek blockade.
Following the hashtags #flotilla2 and #flotilla or #freedomfllotilla required enormous will power not to put two fingers down one’s throat one minute and the same two fingers at their tweets the next.
All sorts of hilarious conspiracy theories floated like so much flotsam to the surface of the twitosphere: The Israelis bribed the Greeks who needed the money; the Israelis had sabotaged two boats even though the Turks, of all people, denied this; the Greeks had to do what the EU wanted because of their debt crisis; yada, yada.
They convinced themselves that the Greek people were with them and their government had been suborned by those dirty Zionists.
They are a bunch of whining hypocrites. They fly into the only country in the region that tolerates free speech, almost to the point of stupidity, to try to prove that Israel is an apartheid state. Then they act in a way, and with a declared intention, that guarantees they will be expelled or arrested or both so they can whine a bit more about how Israel is a ‘police state’ not a ‘true democracy’, and closes down free speech. You get the idea? They are excrement-stirrers.
This is an extension of the assault on Israel’s borders on the ‘Naksa’ demonstrations in the Golan. Let me repeat: they are coming from foreign countries to demonstrate, demonise and delegitimise the state. Why should they be tolerated? Which country would tolerate this?
Let me see them fly into Lhasa not Gaza and see what happens. Let them try to fly to Grozny. Let’s see how much luck they have in Damascus or Beirut or Alexandria.
The irony is that Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv is one of the few places where they know they are safe to fly to because they know, despite their declarations, that Israel is not a police state, that it will not treat them as harshly as other states. They pretend to be brave but they are really cowards.
There is a tremendous feeling in the pro-Israel community that this time Israel used diplomacy well and played the activists’ game better than they did. No-one has been hurt, let alone killed; no real confrontation and best of all, the flotillards have gone home (well apart from a small boat that evaded the Greeks) as sick as a Captain Flint.
Yes, the futile flytillaniks still arrive at Ben Gurion as dozens continue to be killed in Syria every day.
Here are some others’ views of this week’s events:
Stephen Pollard on CiF in the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/08/gaza-flotilla-israel-diplomacy
even better from Israel’s perspective, the attempt at a second flotilla has prompted the arrival of a new ally: Greece. The Greek coastguard has been vigilant in intercepting three would-be flotilla boats and watching the remaining seven in Greek ports. Last week, IDF helicopters were part of a large military exercise with the Greek army, after which Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu thanked Greek PM George Papandreou for all his help.
Some activists have responded with pure antisemitism, arguing that the impoverished Greeks have caved in to Israel’s financial power.
The Greeks’ behaviour has not escaped Erdogan’s notice and has resulted in a form of bidding war between the two leaders to help Israel stop the flotilla. As a senior IDF officer told the Jewish Chronicle this week: “We will make peace with the Palestinians long before the Greeks and Turks resolve their differences.”
Emanuele Ottolenghi in the Commentator http://www.thecommentator.com/index.php/article/292/gaza_flotilla_flops
He speculates about why Flotilla 2 has failed where Flotilla 1 succeeded. He puts Turkey at the centre of the reasons for failure:
With Turkey unwilling to play along and a coming UN report endorsing Israel’s blockade as legal, the Greek government similarly had enough cover to go after the boats and their activists. If the blockade is legal for the UN, blocking the flotilla in Greece is just as legal.
And he also notes elements of anti-Semitic canards in the flotillards pathetic excuses:
Angry flotilla participants have variously blamed the Greek government for preventing their departure – with one activist bordering on the usual anti-Semitic imagery and saying that Greece caved in to Israel due to its economic circumstances.
The idea that helping Israel against the flotilla could bring financial respite to the Greek economy is ludicrous – Israel would have to single handedly control the IMF, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank– and possibly the Bundesbank too – in order to deliver the additional help that Greece may need to avoid default.
That this idea was voiced at all reveals the activists’ conspiratorial mind set.
Yes, folks. The blockade of Gaza is legal. The UN says so. And if the flotillards want to ignore the UN they can’t accuse Israel of doing the same without an enormous dollop of hypocrisy.
Which is exactly their position.
H/T Elder of Zion
In September the Palestinian Authority, backed by the Arab League and over a hundred other countries, will try to have ‘Palestine’ declared as a state based on the ’1967 borders’.
It will thus bypass several UN Resolutions and bilateral agreements and trigger a likely annexation by Israel of areas it will now claim as part of Palestine.
Whilst I have always conceded that a two-state solution is the only likely one to bring long-term peace, the only way this can be achieved is via negotiation.
The JCPA has published an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon signed by several international jurists and lawyers.
The core of this letter is reproduced below which explains the illegality of such a move:
1. The legal basis for the establishment of the State of Israel was the resolution unanimously adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel. This included the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, and close Jewish settlement throughout. This was subsequently affirmed by both houses of the U.S. Congress.
2. Article 80 of the UN Charter determines the continued validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations). Accordingly, the above-noted League resolution remains valid, and the 650,000 Jews presently resident in the areas of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem reside there legitimately.
3. “The 1967 borders” do not exist, and have never existed. The 1949 Armistice Agreements entered into by Israel and its Arab neighbors, establishing the Armistice Demarcation Lines, clearly stated that these lines “are without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.” Accordingly, they cannot be accepted or declared to be the international boundaries of a Palestinian state.
4. UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) called upon the parties to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and specifically stressed the need to negotiate in order to achieve “secure and recognized boundaries.”
5. The Palestinian proposal, in attempting to unilaterally change the status of the territory and determine the “1967 borders” as its recognized borders, in addition to running squarely against Resolutions 242 and 338, would be a fundamental breach of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in which the parties undertook to negotiate the issue of borders and not act to change the status of the territories pending outcome of the permanent status negotiations.
6. The Palestinians entered into the various agreements constituting what is known as the “Oslo Accords” in the full knowledge that Israel’s settlements existed in the areas, and that settlements would be one of the issues to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations. Furthermore, the Oslo Accords impose no limitation on Israel’s settlement activity in those areas that the Palestinians agreed would continue to be under Israel’s jurisdiction and control pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.
7. While the Interim Agreement was signed by Israel and the PLO, it was witnessed by the UN together with the EU, the Russian Federation, the U.S., Egypt, and Norway. It is thus inconceivable that such witnesses, including first and foremost the UN, would now give license to a measure in the UN aimed at violating this agreement and undermining major resolutions of the Security Council.
8. While the UN has maintained a persistent policy of non-recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem pending a negotiated solution, despite Israel’s historic rights to the city, it is inconceivable that the UN would now recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, the borders of which would include eastern Jerusalem. This would represent the ultimate in hypocrisy, double standards, and discrimination, as well as an utter disregard of the rights of Israel and the Jewish People.
9. Such unilateral action by the Palestinians could give rise to reciprocal initiatives in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) which could include proposed legislation to declare Israel’s sovereignty over extensive parts of Judea and Samaria, if and when the Palestinians carry out their unilateral action.
Even though the US and other countries, including the UK, will veto this on the UN Security Council. the intention of the resolution and a vote in favour in the General Assembly is intended to isolate Israel and give a kind of de facto respectability to the Palestinian claims.
A peace agreement was intended to end the conflict. This does not end the conflict. It leaves the Palestinians still claiming that millions of descendants of refugees from 1948 should be entitled to ‘return’ to Israel and that Jerusalem is the capital of ‘Palestine’.
The PA will claim a consensus legitimacy for its ‘Palestine’ whilst still removing Israel from its maps of ‘Palestine’.
Establishing ‘Palestine’ on the 1967 borders will do absolutely nothing to further the cause of peace; in fact, it will do the exact opposite.
Sgt Gilad Shalit is a hostage, held in Gaza by Hamas who kidnapped him almost 5 years ago.
His crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; a soldier protecting Israel’s borders.
Despite several attempts to broker a deal, Shalit still languishes somewhere in Gaza – as far as we know.
Gal Sitty has decided to buy billboard space near the UN headquarters in New York City in a bold move to get the message to a wider audience and the UN in particular.
The goal is to raise $10,000 via this web site:
You can read more about Gal and his campaign in the Jerusalem Post.
It looks as if the Palestinian Authority, aided and abetted by the UN, is on a fast track to declaring statehood in September this year.
The BBC reports :
The government in the West Bank is largely ready to govern a Palestinian state, the United Nations has said.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has successfully built some institutions and public services required for a future state, the UN said in a report.
But it warned that the PA’s efforts could only go so far without resolving its conflict with Israel and the division with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
The report comes a day ahead of a meeting of Western donors in Brussels.
“In six areas where the UN is most engaged, governmental functions are now sufficient for a functioning government of a state,” said the report released by Robert Serry, the UN special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process (Unsco).
For a good analysis of the UN report and its lack of balance the Elder of Ziyon is worth a read here.
Israel will do its very best to stop this from happening. It can also take its own unilateral actions as a form of reprisal, and the Elder and the BBC describe some of these possibilities.
However, as far as I know, no-one has seen the obvious flaw in the Palestinians declaring a state, presumably within the so-called 1967 borders.
By declaring a state within whatever territorial borders they and their backers deem to be the correct ones, this amounts to a de facto acceptance of Israel within the 1967 borders. Let’s forget about the issue of settlements for a minute.
What will happen is that Israel will not recognise the state but a majority in the UN probably will, as there is a built in anti-Israel majority at the UN.
So we will have a putative Palestine, with Gaza hanging like a severed limb and only nominally part of this state.
We will have hundreds of thousands of Israelis who will be living inside this state and whose fate and property will immediately cause a conflagration.
But most importantly, and here is the crux, we will have the right-of-returners, several million Palestinians, who will STILL claim their home is in Israel even though they now have a state of their own.
The whole idea of the Palestinian Right of Return, which does not actually exist in law, was to undermine Israel by flooding it with Palestinians, changing the demographic balance and then joining with the West Bank and Gaza to create the River-to-the-Sea version of Palestine which has always been the aim of the PLO, Fatah, Hamas and just about everyone else in the region.
So what will then be the status of these so-called refugees? Suddenly they are Palestinian citizens. They will no longer have an excuse for remaining in camps. Or will we have the bizarre situation where a Palestinian state refuses to grant citizenship to Palestinians?
Declaring a de facto state which is not the result of an agreement between the two parties is an interesting move. The question to ask is, if you can do it now, why not in 1947 or 1949? Why not accept Ehud Barak’s or Ehud Olmert’s offers made since 2000? why wage bloody war for more than 60 years? Why did so many have to die?
If the Palestinians, in a coup de théâtre, tear up UN resolutions, shred peace accords and fold their arms, Israel will be off the hook. Two can play at that game. Israel might annex all the settlements along the Green Line or even the entire West Bank.
Far from being an enforced peace, it’s a recipe for war.
If it does happen, it’s a game changer. All bets are off. Any action by Israel is possible. It alters the status of the Territories and those living within it.
So why are so many countries prepared to recognise Palestine.
The answer is that they do not recognise or care for the rights of Israelis. It would be an act of international bullying.
And I am absolutely certain that there will be no end to the call for a Right of Return, which the UN should once and for all repudiate. There will be no end to Hamas. There will be no end to Hizbollah. No terrorist or Islamist will suddenly recognise Israel.
Will the Arab League call it quits and declare the conflict over and final borders decided? Will Iran accept Israel?l
It’s ironic that the UN which gave the Arabs a chance of an independent state in 1947 and then stood by whilst Israel was attacked again and again in order to destroy it utterly, can now, with a straight face, say that Palestine is almost ready for statehood.
The UN did say, however, that the conflict must be resolved first.
So, in the end, will it be a Black September, or merely another ploy to delegitimise Israel which gains some purchase but is just a loss leader for the Palestinians?
We still have a few months to find out.
“If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”
The pro-Israel Twittersphere, Facebook, blogosphere and the Israeli Prime Minister have been ablaze today with news of, and reactions to, a Washington Post op-ed by Judge Richard Goldstone, the eponymous author of the UN report into Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip in December 2008.
You may recall that this report was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, and, as Goldstone says himself, its purpose was: “…to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions.”
Yet, the report, completed in just a few weeks, whose job was to find “facts”, miserably failed to do so to an extent which meant that its recommendations found that Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes.
The most libellous conclusion of the report was that Israel had deliberately targetted civilians. Hamas’ actions were given a few paragraphs whilst several incidents were used to show that Israel had acted illegally or potentially illegally.
The report has since been used by every Israel and Jew-hater, every left-wing Hamas groupie, the governments of both friendly and hostile nations and the worldwide media to back up their claims that Israel is a rogue criminal state that targets civilians, uses munitions illegally, uses civilians as human shields.
Very few people have read the report but thousands uses it as an accusatory instrument with which to bash Israel.
Indeed, in the UK, the position of visiting Israeli politicians and soldiers has been precarious because the law of Universal Jurisdiction, currently under review, was being wielded with the comfort of knowing that alleged Israeli war crimes were imminent because of this report.
It is a great source of succour and smugness to the BDS organisations who would Boycott, Sanction and Disinvest from Israel.
In other words, the report whose findings were rejected by Israel and its supporters, had become a weapon of Israel’s enemies who could quote the fact that the UN itself regarded Israel as a war criminal.
The Goldstone Report had become, therefore, a form of modern Blood Libel used by people who had never read it to accuse Israelis of crimes.
Let’s now dissect Goldstone’s supposed retraction and see what he actually said rather than what Israel supporters (and I include myself in that group) would wish that he said or favourably interpret what he said to match their own views, opinions and bias. In doing so let’s try to avoid too much bombast or self-righteous cooing.
So it begins.
We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.
Goldstone’s opening statement is already disingenuous. Of course we know more. This is because instead of the rush to judgement commissioned by the UNHRC, a body dominated by an anti-Israel block, Israel has painstakingly investigated the plethora of incidents reported by Goldstone and by Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
We don’t know more because the truth has come to light by some miracle, it has come to light because Israel took time and proper juridical care to investigate, to recommend, to prosecute and, indeed, to rebut.
Israel would have investigated anyway. It was not coerced or shamed into it.
Hamas, on the other hand, did nothing except flatly deny any and every accusation against it.
This is supported by the next paragraph in the article:
The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza”while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”
Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.
Yet Hamas never really figured in the aftermath of the Report, all focus was on Israel. Why? Because “it goes without saying” that Hamas are criminals, according to Goldstone. We all know they are terrorists so there’s not much point going after them. So put Israel under the microscope and see what dirt you can dig up.
But it is precisely the behaviour of Hamas that the Commission should have emphasised and pursued in the international courts.
Surely any commission with a brief from what is supposed to be the word’s premier Human Rights watchdog should be persecuting the self-evident criminals. It should be challenging those countries that support it. It should purge its committees and councils of those that fund and support these criminals.
Instead, all we get is a shrug of the shoulders and a “what do you expect”.
But from Israel they expect a whole lot more and are prepared to pursue Israel, if necessary, in the world court, to damage its reputation, to assist the delegitimisers and effectively to connive with Hamas and other groups whose whole raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel.
The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
So let’s read this statement from a world renowned Judge and Human Rights prosecutor.
His commission “had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion”. In other words guilty until proven innocent.
This is part of the basis of this commissions findings; because they could not prove the accused was innocent, he must be guilty. What court in the world operates on this principle? This from one of the world’s top practitioners of international jurisprudence. Here he is actually writing that he agreed to go along with his team of predisposed Israel-bashers and find that Israel was guilty until proven innocent. This is beyond belief.
Now he gives us an example of why he and his commission would come to such a piece of legal claptrap.
For example, the most serious attack the Goldstone Report focused on was the killing of some 29 members of the al-Simouni family in their home. The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly. The purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions.
But the sentence I have highlighted above is exactly what the commission did not do. It jumped to the conclusion that this and many other actions merited little investigation because it was so patent that Israel had acted criminally.
All the commission needed to say, (since there was a commission, however much I deplore the fact) in this case and all others where evidence was sparse or lacking was something like this:
“The Fact Finding commission recommends that Israel explains Action X and reports back to the the UN in order to mitigate accusations of war crimes.”
I’m no international lawyer, but it does seem to me that if you and your cronies have a predisposition of antipathy to Israel you are going to assume that the incident cited above was a deliberate act and not a tragic accident of war.
So the very actions and conclusions of this supposedly objective and non-partisan commission lead to the patently biased nature of its findings. If it had been the USA or NATO who bombed the al-Simouni house in Afghanistan or Libya no-one would accuse them of war crimes and the immediate conclusion would be that this is an accident of war.
It is instructive to note two stories running this weekend on the BBC News website. The first is entitled Libya air raid ‘killed civilians’. The second ‘Libya: Coalition air strike near Brega kills rebels’.
Seven civilians died and 25 were hurt in a coalition air strike on a pro-Gaddafi convoy in eastern Libya, a doctor there has told the BBC.
Nato officials told the BBC they were making inquiries “down our operations chain to find out if indeed there is any information on the operation side that would support this claim”.
At least 10 Libyan rebels are reported to have been killed when a coalition plane enforcing the no-fly zone fired on their convoy between Brega and Ajdabiya late on Friday night.
And the Libyan government was quick to try to use some UN medicine on the Coalition:
Spokesman Moussa Ibrahim … condemned recent coalition air strikes as “a crime against humanity” and said there had been civilian casualties in one attack on Thursday.
Of course, no-one would take seriously the accusations of the Libyan government, right? After all, they are now an outlaw regime who kill civilians indiscriminately, fire at ambulances and rape dissidents.
So why should Goldstone have put so much weight behind the statements of Hamas, the Gaza government who kill civilians indiscriminately, use ambulances to convey combatants to and from the battlefield and use human shields?
The tragic deaths reported above came about because of the fog of war. No-one will prosecute anyone after the Coalition investigates these incidents. The UN General Assembly will not have an emergency session where hysterical Arab states condemn the US and the UK.
Goldstone is critical that Israel has taken so long. Does the Judge not know how long criminal cases take to investigate? And let us remember that Goldstone himself says here that Israel is investigating 400 incidents. 400! No wonder it takes a long time to conclude.
Goldstone’s little shindig was concluded in the blink of an eye in comparison.
Now here’s a biggy:
I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.
This is legal speak for saying that the conclusions were wrong. Not just al-Simouni but the whole shebang.
Once again, Goldstone is saying, “if only we had waited for the Israeli investigations’ conclusions instead of the rush to judgement and condemnation in the UN’s kangaroo court system specially reserved for one state, Israel’s actions would have been vindicated’.
Just a second; that’s not what he said exactly. He does not say Israel has been vindicated, he just wished he had had the Israeli evidence. In fact, some of the incidents in the Report have led to criminal prosecutions in Israel, proving that Israel is as capable of investigating itself as any democracy. Yet, it is the only democracy that is treated by the UN as if it were a criminal entity, not to be trusted or given any credence whatsoever.
Israel’s lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants. The Israeli military’s numbers have turned out to be similar to those recently furnished by Hamas (although Hamas may have reason to inflate the number of its combatants).
Now Goldstone is really having a laugh, as we say in the UK. Since he later admits that the UNHRC is ‘skewed’ in its bias against Israel, and, given the fact that anyone in his or her right mind can see that the UN and especially the UNHRC is obsessed with bashing Israel at every opportunity, and making up a few opportunities of its own (remember Durban I and II?), then how can he expect Israel to have agreed to co-operate with a body that is so biased?
This is like asking the defence lawyer to co-operate with the prosecutor to find a guilty verdict against the accused. In effect, Israel took ‘the 5th’; it refused to speak in what it saw as an enterprise predisposed to find it guilty.
Goldstone is actually crticising Israel for not co-operating with his commission, a tool of the very UNHRC that he is himself condemning!
Goldstone now tries to protect his own reputation:
The purpose of the Goldstone Report was never to prove a foregone conclusion against Israel. I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel.
So if he knew it was biased, why did he not decry it to high heaven rather than accept his role in some misguided belief that ‘as a Jew’ and a ‘Zionist’ he could mitigate the level of attack he appears to have anticipated.
Surely, his job should have been to expose the UNHRC for what it was, accuse it of bias, produce evidence and prove that any commission investigating Israel was either going to have already made up its mind, and in at least one case of a commission member, already published their antipathy to Israel. Thus demonstrating that such a commission was invalid and its conclusion illegitimate.
Goldstone did not do this.
I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the U.N. Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.
Disingenuous once again. Who’s he kidding. if I knew that this was not going to happen, surely, the venerable Goldstone would know.
Some have charged that the process we followed did not live up to judicial standards. To be clear: Our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding. We did not investigate criminal conduct on the part of any individual in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank. We made our recommendations based on the record before us, which unfortunately did not include any evidence provided by the Israeli government.
Even if Israel had co-operated, it would self-evidently not have had time to prepare a proper defence of its actions. This is so patently true, given the unwarranted haste with which the commission was formed, that Goldstone must know that what he is writing is utter BS.
The commission’s ‘recommendations’ were so strongly worded, so accusatory and so reliant on flawed evidence taken from a people who are unreliable witnesses, given the nature of the regime under which they live, that to say they were just ‘recommendations’ is disingenuous in the extreme.
Goldstone knew full well how his ‘recommendations’ would be received. He knew full well that Israel would be condemned before the ink was dry and that he was adding to the avalanche of delegitimisation of a state fighting a callous and immoral enemy.
The Goldstone Report, in effect, portrayed Israel as being at least as criminal as Hamas. The result was that Israel’s public and international reputation, such as it was after years of similar tactics against it, was brought to a level whereby a democracy with an army dedicated to following and observing international law in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances, was further criminalised and delegitimised by what amounted to a malicious prosecution by the UN, a body supposedly dedicated to protecting Human Rights and promulgating democracy.
Now we have Goldstone in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land:
Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case.
Well you don’t say.
But what is the true crime here is that the UN has actually encouraged Hamas as a result of this report because it can clearly see that by provoking Israel to defend itself and thereby increasing the chances that some errant Israeli soldier will commit a crime, it can act with impunity and get the whole weight of world opinion against Israel and orchestrated by the UN.
Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.
If you are so concerned about this, Judge Goldstone, why don’t you get off your judicial butt and do something about this? Op-ed’s in worthy newspapers will not change anything. Recanting and telling the truth about Israel will.
I continue to believe in the cause of establishing and applying international law to protracted and deadly conflicts. Our report has led to numerous “lessons learned” and policy changes, including the adoption of new Israel Defense Forces procedures for protecting civilians in cases of urban warfare and limiting the use of white phosphorus in civilian areas.
There is some truth in this. But this is surely the point; had the commission questioned Israel’s actions with regard to WP and highlighted incidents worthy of investigation rather than draw the unwarranted conclusions that it did, the Report would have been tolerable.
At first, I did not believe the WP stories. After closely reading reports I concluded that Israel’s use was always legal but perhaps, in some cases, unwise or even cavalier. In other words, it did not always use WP as a last resort.
However, I was not a soldier in Gaza risking my life against an embedded enemy. Battlefield decisions that have adverse consequences on civilians must be investigated and procedures tightened up if necessary. Given the recent deaths caused by Coalition bombing in Libya, maybe NATO will be forced to revise its procedures.
Regrettably, there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza to investigate the allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
Simply put, the laws of armed conflict apply no less to non-state actors such as Hamas than they do to national armies. Ensuring that non-state actors respect these principles, and are investigated when they fail to do so, is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict.
So what is the UN doing about it? Why is there not a UN force to Gaza to stop rockets? Could it be due to the Arab and Muslim block in the UNGA, the UNHRC and just about every other body, commission or group which falls under the UN auspices?
Only if all parties to armed conflicts are held to these standards will we be able to protect civilians who, through no choice of their own, are caught up in war.
So who’s holding Hamas to them?
In conclusion, did he recant? Well, you know what, I think he came about as close as he could. I see no claims in this article that he believes the Israeli government or any of its ministers or any army commander committed a war crime in Gaza.
If the author of the Goldstone Report goes public and says it is flawed, that he trusts Israeli investigations and their conclusions, that he is satisfied that criminal cases are being investigated and prosecuted according to Israeli and international law, then clearly, Israel has no case to answer, never did have a case to answer and the Report should be condemned to the waste basket of history.
I am sure that slowly emerging from the woodwork will be a lot of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, NGO’s, far-lefties, journalists etc. who will claim that Goldstone has recanted because:
1. He is a Jew and has reverted to type or
2. He has been got at by Mossad or
3. He is suffering from a mental illness or
4. What do you expect from a Jew or
5. He has been bribed by a wealthy Jew or AIPAC or AJC or UJIA
Others will simply say that there are other members of the team who have not recanted, the Report stands.
Others will just ignore it. Last time I looked, Al Jazeera were keeping stum.
Even the BBC have produced a pretty fair assessment. But I don’t see it on their home page?
And now, Israel’s detractors can no longer wave the Report and shout ‘war crime’.
Is the damage done? Only if we don’t give this retraction publicity.
So start shouting about it. Tweet it, Facebook it, email it.
Goldstone should hang his head in shame. He was a patsy, all right. And now he knows it for sure.