UNSC fails the Palestinian people

Once again, the international community has failed the Palestinian people. The UN Security Council (UNSC) rejected a resolution demanding an end to Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories by end-2017. With the United States and Australia voting against the resolution and Britain, Lithuania, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Korea abstaining, it failed to muster the nine votes it needed for passage in the 15-member UNSC. Of course, even if the resolution had secured nine votes, the United States would have used its veto to block its adoption. The US pressure on Rwanda and South Korea is believed to be behind the outcome. In 2012, the UN General Assembly had voted to confer “non-member observer state” status on the Palestinians, an important step forward on their road to statehood. The UNSC was expected to be a tougher nut to crack as the US has a long history here of using money, muscle and the veto to protect Israel.

Palestinians have tried every means to get Israel to end the occupation of their land but none of these have yielded fruit. Their legitimate right to statehood is being thwarted by Israel. Successive Israeli governments have been cavalier in their attitude to negotiations and then act outraged when the Palestinian Authority (PA) explores other options and accuse it of acting ‘unilaterally.’ Following the defeat of the UNSC resolution last week, a desperate PA sought and secured membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC). With this, the door for trial of Israeli and Palestinian leaders for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, will be opened. Israel has responded typically. It has frozen tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA. This is not only illegal but it also amounts to collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

Instead of accusing the Palestinians of “escalating” the conflict, the US government must halt its protection of Israel as this is encouraging Tel Aviv to thumb its nose at UN resolutions and continue its occupation of Palestinian land. With the US failing spectacularly in its self-appointed role as ‘honest broker’, countries like India and China, which have supported the Palestinian cause for decades and are robust partners of Israel in recent years, need to adopt a more pro-active approach. They need to use their influence with Israel to nudge it
to the negotiating table. Working with the European Union could give their effort some heft. Articulating verbal support for the Palestinian cause isn’t enough. The international community must end its unconscionable inaction on the Palestinian question.

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