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Can UN live up to its founding principles? - EDITORIAL

6 September 2021 02:21 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


In a week’s time, the United Nations General Assembly will be holding its 76th sessions. The organization was set upon October 24, 1945 with the aim of setting up a mechanism that would help maintain international peace and security, give humanitarian assistance to those in need, protect human rights, and uphold international law.
However, on November 29, 1947, the UN adopted a proposal for the partition of Palestine via Resolution 181 (II), without any reference to the people of Palestine. The resolution recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. 

The Jewish Agency for Palestine (the predecessor to the government of Israel), despite dissatisfaction over territorial limits included in the proposed Jewish State, accepted the partition plan. Palestinian leaders rejected it and indicated an unwillingness to accept any form of territorial division, arguing that it violated the principles of national self-determination in the UN Charter, which granted people the right to decide their destiny.

In 1948, in the run-up to the creation of the State of Israel, Israeli paramilitary forces attacked major Palestinian cities, destroyed some 530 villages, including a cold-blooded massacre of hundreds of civilians at Deir Yasin. Israeli military forces have expelled at least 750,000 Palestinians and captured 78% of historic Palestine. 

During the 1967 war, Israeli forces occupied all of Palestine and expelled a further 300,000 Palestinians from their homes. Today, Israel continues to force Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank from their homes and lands, which are subsequently taken over by Jewish Israeli settlers. Roughly 11% of Israel’s 6.6 million Jewish population now live on occupied land, outside Its internationally recognized borders.

Al-Jazeera records between 2008 and 2021; at least 5,739 Palestinians and 251 Israelis have been killedin conflict. Of those killed on the Palestinian side, at least 1,255 (22 %) were children and 565 (10%) were women. On the Israeli side 121 (48%) of those killed were security forces personnel.

There are around 1.6 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship living in present-day Israel. Despite holding Israeli citizenship, several dozen Israeli laws discriminate against Palestinian citizens across a wide spectrum of issues, including education, housing, political participation and due process. They are treated as second-class citizens.
To date, according to UN statistics, there are over five million Palestine refugees.

It was in this background, the UN Security Council vide Resolution 242 on November 22, 1967, demanded Israel withdraw from the territories it seized in the war. Israel however rejects the resolution and continues to violate the resolution with impunity. It continues building settlements on Palestinian territory. 

By a strange quirk of fate, the body set up to maintain international peace and security, give humanitarian assistance to those in need, protect human rights, and uphold international law, created a  ‘Frankenstein Monster’ in the Middle East and has lost control of it. In May this year, Israel unleashed a ferocious aerial and rocket attack on Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza. 

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres accused Israel of having caused serious damage to vital civilian infrastructure in Gaza; making thousands of Palestinians homeless, and forcing over 50,000 people to seek shelter with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).He accused Israel of killing nine members in a single family in the al-Shati refugee camp and creating a hell on earth in the lives of the children of Gaza.

It proved to be the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back. On May 27, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on ensuring respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It also established an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights by Israel in Palestine
The General Assembly of the United Nations will be taking up this issue at its forthcoming  session, commencing this month. 

The big question is, can the United Nations live up to the expectations of its creators? Does it have the capacity to withstand pressure from the US, which has blocked all attempts to censure Israeli crimes? 
Perhaps the world body may take the easy  way out by taking Israeli war crimes off the back-burner and making an example of Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes during its ‘War on Terror’.


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