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Israel-Palestine: Double standards not diplomacy at the UN Open in fullscreen

Belal Dabour

Israel-Palestine: Double standards not diplomacy at the UN

The context of occupation is completely absent from Ban Ki-moon's rhethoric, says Belal Dabour [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 June, 2016

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Comment: Belal Dabour takes a look at Ban Ki-Moon's official statements on Israel-Palestine over the last six months, providing a telling insight into the true nature of his "concerns".

Almost a decade ago, the South Korean diplomat Ban Ki-moon was elected the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly.

Most Palestinians regarded the event with indifference, and low expectations were the rule rather than an exception. The United Nations had for so long failed the people of Palestine who, for seven decades, have been torn apart by displacement and occupation at the hands of a colonial enterprise that belongs to the past.

Little did Palestinians know that the language of Ki-moon's interventions would bring further frustration, and disappointment in the ailing institution he represents. Its performance in the face of the grave events that followed, such as the Israeli siege, the three wars on Gaza and the unprecedented Israeli incursion on what remains of the West Bank and Jerusalem, all serve to illustrate this.

Over the last decade, Ki-moon became known for weak positions that rarely reached beyond expressing his "concern" over issues that invite horror, and as such, the term has become something of a signature.

Using the search words "Palestine" and "Israel", I have examined Ban Ki-moon's official statements and speeches from 1 January 2016 to date, as posted on the official UN website.

In total, there were 20 results in which the Secretary-General expressed his "concern" (12 times) or said to be "alarmed" or "worried" on many other occasions. Overall, the situation in occupied Palestine seems to cause him trouble once a week.

However, Ki-Moon's concerns are not equally shared between Palestinians and Israelis.

While Israel's increasing demolitions in the West Bank attract wide condemnation, to the Secretary-General Israel's intentions to implement over 11,000 outstanding demolition orders in Area C of the West Bank, merely raise concerns. A new situation on the ground created by demolitions and settlement building only "raises questions" about Israel's ultimate goals.

The context of occupation is completely absent from Ban Ki-moon's strong and immediate condemnation of last week's attack in Tel Aviv

The same sentiment is expressed over Israel's policy of punitive demolitions against homes of Palestinian activists. Concern is expressed, but there's no condemnation. At best, he is "deeply concerned".

In the same statement however, Ki-moon is "extremely concerned" by the discovery of a Gaza tunnel permeating the border into Israel, an incident which he "strongly" condemned and deemed "dangerous" and "provocative".

He further hinted that such incidents absolve Israel of its duty to rebuild Gaza, holding the oppressed responsible for speaking up. The same is implied in his response to statements by Hamas leadership in Gaza.

In a statement made on March 6 in Algeria, he said that Palestinians have been "enduring an unbearable situation for nearly half a century". But in spite of his eloquent listing of Israeli practices that destroy Palestinian hopes and "drain their lives of opportunity", he does not fail to condemn over and over again, the "unjustified Palestinian terror" and "violence".

Israeli incitement and murder is rarely mentioned, and only in the context of mutual violence in which both sides are equally involved and where both the illegal settler and the indigenous owner of the land suffer equally.

"Stabbings, vehicle attacks, and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians - all of which I condemn - and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, have continued to claim lives." He said in his remarks to the UNSC in January.

In his own words, "it is human nature to react to occupation". However, the context of occupation is completely absent from Ban Ki-moon's strong and immediate condemnation of last week's attack in Tel Aviv in which four Israelis were killed.

His heartfelt condolences were offered "to the families of the victims and the Government of Israel", and he classified the incident as "terrorist", "heinous" and "unjustified", and its endorsement by Palestinian factions "shocking". His comments appeared even stronger than those of some Israeli officials. Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv for example, stated that Israel's military occupation was a major factor in the attack.

Ki-moon mumbled not a single word over the plain execution of two Palestinian youths by an Israeli soldier in Hebron last March

On the other hand, Ki-moon mumbled not a single word over the plain execution of two Palestinian youths by an Israeli soldier in Hebron last March. Neither the fact that the execution was carried out in front of the camera, nor the wide endorsement of the crime at all levels in Israel invited his commentary or condolences.

A recent video showed a knife being planted beside the motionless body of the Palestinian victim, but still the only condemnation of the crime came from the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov.

Over the years, Palestinians have opted to tread the paths of peaceful resistance as a means to obtaining their rights, but they have met with violence, repression and ever-shrinking options.

Peaceful demonstrations have been met with force. BDS is being outlawed and its figures politically assassinated, if not physically incarcerated. Attempts to resort to international courts are blocked and met with economic sanctions, and the UN is increasingly impotent and at times even perceivably complicit regarding the situation in Palestine.

This can only be counterproductive to Israel and its backers, for when peaceful resistance is no longer an option, people will resort to other methods. As pointed out by Ban Ki-moon himself: History proves that "people will always resist occupation", and that is a simple truth.


Belal Dabour is a Palestinian doctor in Gaza. Follow him on Twitter: @Belalmd12

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

 

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