According the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley, the Donald Trump Administration will not allow any Palestinians to hold high office at the UN until the Palestinian Authority cooperates in peace talks with Israel. Haley made the declaration on Monday, while addressing the annual Policy Conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Washington recently blocked the appointment of Salam Fayyad — the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister from 2007 to 2013 — to lead the UN political mission in Libya. Haley accused the UN of being “unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.”
She also added that the Trump Administration was not pleased with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ decision to appoint Fayyad as upcoming UN special representative to Libya. She used this appointment as reference for U.S. opposition to Palestinian officials being given top posts in the UN. “So when they [UN] decided to try and put a Palestinian [Fayyad] in one of the highest positions that had ever been given at the UN, we said no, and we had him booted out. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a nice man. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t good to America,” Haley explained to AIPAC. “What it means is until the Palestinian Authority comes to the table, until the UN responds the way they’re supposed to, there are no freebies for the Palestinian Authority anymore,” she added.
The envoy firmly stated that the U.S. would not allow “Israel-bashing” at the UN. “I wanted to let them know that, look, that happened but it will never happen again. The days of Israel-bashing are over.” Peace talks to settle the Israel-Palestine conflict have been hampered on several occasions. Last month, Trump said the two-state solution was not the only way to resolve the conflict.
Why Netanyahu Is Upset About UN Security Council Resolution 2334: The Total Illegality of Israel’s Settlements
Members of the world community finally reached a limit witnessing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The United Nations Security Council presented a peace offering to Palestinians days before the official birthday of Jesus in what is now occupied Bethlehem: resolution 2334, with a “vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders.” Ironically, the seemingly toothless resolution’s main notoriety comes from Netanyahu’s fury at its passage.
The resolution, which aims to bring a lasting peace to Israelis and Palestinians based on international law, comes at a time when Israel seemed to be in the “mop-up” phase of its theft of Palestinian resources (such as water and gas) and its annexation of whatever it wanted of the Palestinian territories it has occupied since 1967: East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
The media censorship of Israel’s brutality towards the Palestinians has made their horrific situation virtually invisible to the western public, allowing Israel to ignore — besides basic human decency — virtually all international laws protecting Palestinian human, civil and property rights. Israel has been ethnicly cleansing East Jerusalem, which it is trying to annex; it is maintaining apartheid in the occupied West Bank according to the 2012 Russell Tribunal, and committing genocide against Gazans according to the 2013 Kuala Lumpur tribunal. Despite such findings, Israel’s allies are attempting to criminalize speech critical of Israel or advocating redress.
What the resolution calls for
Resolution 2334 lays out the Security Council’s intention to start diplomatic meetings to create a lasting peace based on “the relevant United Nations’ resolutions, and other peace agreements and initiatives”, along with periodic follow-up reports. More specifically, resolution 2334 calls for:
Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” because of their illegality;
the international community to recognize the difference “in its dealings” between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories;
immediate steps to prevent all violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as acts of provocation and destruction;
calls for accountability in this regard,
both parties to act on the basis of international law, including international humanitarian law… ; and
efforts aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, and … an end to the Israeli occupation.
The resolution confirms the total illegality of Israel’s settlements; the wording “completely cease all settlement activities” might also be interpreted to mean the dismantling of the settlements.
If Israel refuses to abide by the resolution’s call to end all settlement activity, the Palestinians can pursue cases against Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court.
By calling for the international community to differentiate between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories “in its dealings“, the UN is calling for an end to trade agreements(such as Canada’s) that support the financial viability of the settlements by allowing Israel to mislabel products produced in the settlements as from “Israel” in order to facilitate sales and avoid duties.
The call to prevent “all violence against civilians, including acts of terror … provocation and destruction”, is a stunning rebuke of Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians and the destruction of their homes and properties. The currently-used definition of terrorism*, which excludes state terrorism (and thus actions by Israel or Hamas) includes the actions of Jewish settlers, the major source of terrorism in Israel.
The call for accountability is a call for an end to Israel’s impunity for crimes including its massive attacks on Gaza as well as its almost daily attacks on Palestinian farmers, fishermen and other civilians.
The call for “both parties” to “act on the basis of …. international humanitarian law” is a demand that Israel, as the Occupying Power, respect the Fourth Geneva Convention, the law governing the treatment of civilians under military occupation. Israel’s obligations are not only to protect the welfare of those civilians, but to refrain from moving its population into occupied territory or retaining the territory under any circumstances.
The resolution calls for efforts to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, which Israel would find costly. Its confinement of millions of Palestinians is hugely profitable, largely because the world community has assumed Israel’s legal obligation to provide for their food, education and other humanitarian needs. Israel skims off humanitarian aid money and forces funds to be converted into the shekel, propping up its currency. Palestinians are used as cheap and disposal labor in Israel’s industrial zones and as guinea pigs for its weapons testing. The West Bank, from which Israel gets much of its water and farm land, is used for Israel’s toxic dumps.
This resolution’s intent to follow up on final status peace negotiations is a major problem for Israel because the next world conference on Israel/ Palestine is on January 15th, when President Obama is still in office. If a resolution is passed that sets parameters such as the issue of Israel’s borders, the status of Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return, along with a time-limit for the negotiations, it would be almost impossible for Donald Trump to intervene. Trump would have to get the support of at least nine countries in the Security Council behind a new resolution that would overturn the offending resolution — and then ensure that the permanent members, including Russia and China, would not veto it.
Israel’s violations of UN SC Resolution 2334 — which calls for an end to the settlements, steps to prevent acts of violence against civilians, and for accountability — justify boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, particularly of products from Israel’s settlements.
Israel’s ongoing violations should also end the current efforts to criminalize speech critical of Israel. People of conscience can not be said to be guilty of “racism”, “anti-Semitism”, or “hate speech” when they describe Israel’s defiance of this resolution and of international laws — or advocate economic responses to facilitate a just peace.
Hopes for an ending to the Palestinian plight now hinge on the passage of a follow-up resolution at the January 15th conference that will call for final status negotiations on Israel’s borders, the status of Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return — with set time limits.
The United Nations SC resolution 2334 demonstrates that the world body retains its credibility in calling for justice.
The UN has been responsible for the Palestinian tragedy; members must now take responsibility for ending it.
The definition of “terrorism” presumably the one used by the annual Global Index of Terrorism:
The Global Terrorism Index uses data supported by the Department of Homeland Security which includes incidents meeting the following criteria:
1. The incident must be intentional – the result of a conscious calculation on the part of a perpetrator.
2. The incident must entail some level of violence or threat of violence — including property violence, as well as violence against people
3. The perpetrators of the incidents must be sub-national actors. This database does not include acts of state terrorism. In addition to this baseline definition, two of the following three criteria have to be met in order to be included in the START database from 1997: ….The violent act was aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious, or social goal. ….The violent act included evidence of an intention to coerce, intimidate, or convey some other message to a larger audience (or audiences) other than the immediate victims. ….The violent act was outside the precepts of international humanitarian law. (Vision of Humanity)
Rachel Borrell is Amnesty International’s research and campaigns assistant on Israel/ Palestine.
Today’s commemoration of Land Day is an emblematic reminder of the countless human rights violations that have characterised half a century of Palestinian land confiscation and dispossession.
During the first Land Day in 1976 Palestinian citizens of Israel protested against the Israeli government’s expropriation of 2,000 hectares of land surrounding Palestinian villages in the Galilee. Six Palestinians were killed and more than 100 were injured when Israeli forces crushed the protests.
Every year since, Palestinian communities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) have gathered on March 30 to commemorate these events to highlight Israel’s ongoing seizure of Palestinian land, and to reaffirm their connection to the land.
This year’s Land Day will be marked with a march between Deir Hana and Sakhnin in northern Israel, as well as demonstrations and events across central Israel and the Negev/Naqab region, and in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The protests are often met with brutal and excessive use of force by Israel.
In Umm al-Hiran, one of the unrecognised Bedouin villages in the Negev/Naqab region, protesters are planning to plant trees and rehabilitate some of the structures demolished earlier this year by the Israeli authorities, after residents lost a long legal battle against eviction orders to enable government construction of a new community for Jewish residents.
In the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, concerts, marches and olive tree planting events are planned in acts of protest against Israel’s continuous occupation and aggressive land-grab policies. The first few months of 2017 alone have seen an alarming surge in illegal settlement activity and home demolitions in the occupied West Bank.
Surge in illegal settlement activity
Since January the Israeli government, emboldened by President Donald Trump’s inauguration, has authorised the construction of more than 6,219 illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, including 719 in East Jerusalem. These announcements not only mark a shift from the Israeli government’s more cautious approach under the Obama administration but also fly in the face of UN Security Council resolution 2334 (pdf), passed in December last year, which calls on Israel to immediately cease all settlement activities in the OPT.
In recent weeks a number of Israeli Knesset members have proposed a law to annex the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem, along with other settlements in close proximity to the city.
Although the bill has been temporarily blocked by Prime Minister Netanyahu, the proposal is alarming. In addition to flagrantly violating international law, such a move would have potentially catastrophic consequences. Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem are connected by the contentious E1 area, a 12sq km piece of land that provides a vital passage between the northern and southern West Bank. Should Israeli construction take place on this land, a continuous Israeli settler presence will be established from occupied East Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, effectively cutting the West Bank in half and severing East Jerusalem from the remainder of the occupied West Bank.
Recent months have also seen a marked increase in demolitions of Palestinian homes. At least 24 Bedouin homes and other structures around the Ma’ale Adumim settlement were demolished in the first two months of 2017, compared with an average of 32 total demolitions per year between 2013 and 2015.
|As long as the world continues to turn a blind eye to Israel’s relentless land grab and settlement expansion, both serious violations of international humanitarian law, the human rights of Palestinians will continue to be trampled on with impunity.|
In another push to consolidate their land confiscation, on February 6, the Israeli Knesset also passed a law that retroactively legalises the seizure of private Palestinian land on which settlements have already been established. The law prevents Palestinian landowners from laying claim to their land if Israeli settlers are living on it, despite the fact that the settlers’ presence in occupied territory is illegal under international law.
It has been estimated that the law will retroactively legalise 53 settlements and outposts – allowing for the expropriation of about 8,000 dunams (80 hectares) of private Palestinian land. The law also risks galvanising the confiscation of yet more private Palestinian land by providing a basis for further retroactive legalisation of land grabs.
Fifty years of indifference
The recent acceleration in home demolitions, combined with the push to expand settlements and moves to legalise prior land grabs, gives a damning indication of the Israeli government’s intention to continue and accelerate its land-grab policies 50 years on from its initial capture and occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Fifty years of indifference from the international community has only served to spur on the Israeli government in its expropriation of Palestinian land and expansion of illegal settlements. In a speech last Friday UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov confirmed that no steps have yet been taken to cease settlement activities in the OPT in order to comply with UN resolution 2334. The fact that Mladenov’s update was not delivered in a written report by the UN secretary general himself has been interpreted by some as a lack of commitment by the UN to implement the resolution.
As long as the world continues to turn a blind eye to Israel’s relentless land grab and settlement expansion, both serious violations of international humanitarian law, the human rights of Palestinians will continue to be trampled on with impunity and UN resolutions such as resolution 2334 or the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council last week calling on states to regulate trade with illegal settlements, will remain little more than empty gestures. The international community must take a clear stand and show that it will no longer tolerate Israel’s illegal policies of annexation and settlement. Otherwise, Palestinians will continue to have plenty to protest about at annual Land Day demonstrations.
Rachel Borrell is Amnesty International’s research and campaigns assistant on Israel/Palestine. Rachel previously worked for the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq and at Anti-Slavery International in London. Rachel studied International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the University of Essex.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.