Richard Falk, a UN human rights rapporteur, has said the UN, the US and Israel had failed in upholding Palestinian rights. He said the peace process that began decades ago, aimed at creating an Independent, sovereign Palestinian state appeared to be based on illusion, as the continued settlement construction would probably make Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories irreversible.
As usual Israel defended its actions by saying Mr Falk’s report on the Palestinian territories was biased. It said the report served a political agenda. Israel hardly admitted any of its occupations of territories, attacks, killings and ill-treatment of Palestinians in Israel as well as in West Bank and Gaza. It has a habit of immediately going in denial mode, instead of addressing the issues in question.
Israel tried several times to make the UN reports, fact-finding reports of independent organizations and the UN Human rights commission’s reports themselves as issues without caring for addressing the findings in reports. Israeli state has set a bad precedent of disrespecting international solidarity for Palestinians and disrespecting the international organisations like the UN and its several wings.
The international community has been made a fool several times by Israel’s rejection of UN resolutions, totally derailing Oslo peace process and killing eleven Turkish people on board Gaza bound aid flotilla in international waters. As the rapporteur said in an interview given to the Indian News Paper ‘The Hindu,’ “They feel that they can ignore or refuse to cooperate with the U.N., even though as a member they are legally obligated to cooperate.”
Thus, Mr. Falk’s statement is hundred percent justified when he said the UN, the US and Israel failed in upholding Palestinian rights. One has to wonder with the Israeli statement that the report was biased and served a political agenda. It has been building settlements that are illegal under international law and UN resolutions; it has been defending the occupation of Palestinian territories and construction of settlements; and it derailed the recent peace discussions promoted by the Obama government by not accepting to extend the partial freeze of settlement building. Israel did not even allow Mr Falk into Israel and Palestine territories. Then how can it accuse Richard Falk that he is biased as if it tried its best to convey its case to him?
The construction is illegal. It is taking place on occupied Palestinian territories. The self-imposed freeze was partial. And it was temporary. So, Israel denied extending the illegal, temporary, partial and self-imposed freeze on settlement construction for just three to four months, and because of that denial, the direct talks came to an end. It is really a shame upon the US establishment, the UN set up and even the international community that has remained unbearably passive for decades over atrocities of Israeli state on Palestinian Arabs on their own land. The rapporteur’s observation that the peace process aimed at creating an independent, sovereign Palestinian state was based on an illusion of Israel agreeing to the resolutions of the UN or requests of the US at least, is 100 percent justified, if not 200.
De Facto Annexation
The rapporteur said in his interview that the report argued that the prolonged occupation combined with the expansion of the settlements amounted now to de facto annexation. After 43 years of occupation and with the Israel building more or less permanent settlements, Mr Falk said, there couldn’t be just temporary legitimate occupation and it could be more realistic to say it as a situation of de facto annexation, de jure occupation. Falk boldly said the best hope for the Palestinians was the “legitimacy war,” similar to the anti-apartheid campaign in the late-1980s and 1990s that undermined the apartheid regime and led to its dethroning.
The legitimacy war, proposed by Falk, appears good to listen and read for those who envisage an independent state for Palestinians. But, it is not plausible given the ground realities. The ruling party and opposition are both rightists in Israel politics. The West Bank government is sponsored by the US and Israel. Unavailability of inspiring leadership among Palestinian leaders after the death of Yasser Arafat is haunting Palestinians. There is an absence of legitimate representation of Palestinians’ struggle on international platforms during peace talks. And the continued and invariable support, monitory and military, of the US regime is there to the Israeli regime. All these factors have pushed such possibility of legitimacy war away from realization.
Mr Falk responded to Israel’s criticism that his report was biased and politically motivated. He said that his mandate was to report on the Israeli occupation, not on the rights and wrongs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict referring Israeli criticism that he made no mention of Palestinian terrorist attacks. He added that the deepening expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and demolition of Palestinians’ homes have formed a base to his conclusion. Interestingly, Richard Falk asked the UN to support civil society initiatives including campaigns to sanction or boycott Israel for alleged violations of international law. If the sanctioning of Iran is justified, the idea of sanctioning Israel for disrespecting the international laws and the UN resolutions is more than justified.