un general assembly
Father Roy writes: The highlights in Reuters’ report are mine. Please note the concluding paragraph in particular. Peace, Roy
European votes on PA statehood bid begin falling into place
Lines were drawn in Europe on Wednesday as the Union failed to agree on a unified approach to a Palestinian bid for a diplomatic upgrade at the United Nations. Germany declared that it would not back the PA’s unilateral bid, while Switzerland and Denmark joined a growing list of European countries that do support it.
Britain announced it would support the Palestinian moves only if it received assurances that the PA would return to peace talks and would not seek to prosecute Israelis through the International Criminal Court.
“We are assessing the situation and want as much agreement as possible with our European partners… But it is certain that Germany will not vote for such a resolution,” spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference.
France said on Tuesday it would vote in favor of non-member status and Switzerland and Denmark have now followed suit.
“The decision to support the resolution is in accordance with Switzerland’s policy to seek a negotiated, just, and durable peace between Israel and an independent and viable Palestinian state within secure and internationally recognized borders,” the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Swiss decision followed a visit to Berne by PA President Mahmoud Abbas this month as the country hesitated between voting in favor of the resolution or abstaining.
A positive vote would make it possible to “revitalize the concept of a two-state solution by placing Israel and Palestine on an equal footing in future peace negotiations”, the Swiss ministry said.
Abbas had reiterated his commitment to relaunch the peace process immediately following the UN vote, it said.
In Copenhagen, the Danish foreign minister said Denmark would also vote “yes.”
“It is a moderate text which clearly highlights the need for peace negotiations and negotiations for a two-state solution that can secure Palestinians a safe and sustainable state side by side with Israel,” minister Villy Sovndal said.
Britain, which has been cool on the idea, said Wednesday that it would abstain from the vote unless the Palestinians promised to meet its conditions, according to the BBC. “Up until the time of the vote itself we will remain open to voting in favor of the resolution if we see public assurances by the Palestinians,” Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament.
European countries are eager to bolster moderates such as Abbas after an eight-day conflict this month between Israel and Gaza-based Islamists estranged from more moderate West Bank compatriots and opposed to Israel’s very existence.
Israel and the United States have mooted withholding aid and tax revenue that the Palestinian government in the West Bank needs to survive. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also viewed options that include bringing down Abbas. Naftali Bennett, who heads the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party, said Wednesday that Israel should “pursue a unilateral strategy in annexing settlements in the West Bank” in response to the PA bid.
A senior diplomatic source on Tuesday, however, said that Israel will take a “low-profile” approach to the Palestinian bid, so as not to divert attention from the Palestinian Authority’s violation of international agreements.
The change in the PA’s status would likely allow the Palestinian territories to access bodies like the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes people for genocide, war crimes and other human rights violations.
The Palestinian UN observer, Riyad Mansour, said the Palestinians would not rush to sign up to the ICC if they win the UN status upgrade. But seeking action against Israel in the court would remain an option, he told a news conference at the United Nations on Tuesday. In addition, the PA indicated on Wednesday it would take Israel to the ICC if it uncovers evidence Israel assassinated former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, according to Palestinian news agency Ma’an.
The United States has suggested aid for the Palestinians – and possibly some funding for the United Nations – could also be at risk if the Palestinians win the UN upgrade. Israel has said it may cancel the Paris Protocol, an economic accord it maintains with the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.
Jpost.com… staff and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report
Father Roy writes: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA spokespeople have made clear in recent days that they intend to bring a resolution to the UN General Assembly, possibly as early as Thursday, November 29. The highlights in JPost’s article are mine. Peace, Roy
After Gaza, focus turns to Palestinian bid at UN
Washington is urging Israel not to allow construction in the area known as E-1 between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim as a possible response to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition next week at the UN, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Building in E-1, which would create contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim to the northeast beyond the Green Line, is something various Israeli governments have long wanted to do, but which US opposition has prevented.
Building there is one of a number of measures Jerusalem has discussed as a possible retaliation for a Palestinian statehood bid.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA spokespeople have made clear in recent days that they intend to bring a resolution to the UN General Assembly, possibly as early as Thursday, November 29, which is the anniversary of the 1947 UN partition vote.
Diplomatic officials said the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip would likely serve as an even greater impetus for Abbas to bring the measure to the UN, in an attempt to make himself – and the PA – relevant after being sidelined throughout the eight-day crisis.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has come out publicly against the move, as have a number of key EU countries, such as Britain, Germany and France.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament on Thursday: “While there is any chance of achieving a return to talks in the coming months, we continue to advise President Abbas against attempts to win Palestinian observer state status. We judge that this would make it harder to secure a return to negotiations, and could have very serious consequences for the Palestinian Authority.”
The Post has also learned that European diplomats are holding separate discussions with Israel and the PA about the wording of the resolution that will be brought to the UN, and the possibility that it will be modified a bit to mollify Israel and temper Jerusalem’s response.
One of Israel’s chief concerns regarding the step is that as a result of being given statehood status by the UN General Assembly, the Palestinians will be able to take Israel to the International Criminal Court, something only states can do. One suggestion under review is the possibility of a side letter whereby the PA would commit not to take Israel to the ICC as long as diplomatic negotiations begin within a certain period of time.
It is not yet clear how the EU will vote on the UN measure, and whether it would reach a consensus and abstain or – as was the case when the Palestinians sought entrance into UNESCO as a state last year – some EU countries will support the measure, others will oppose it, and still others will abstain.
On Thursday, France indicated it is likely to support the PA’s statehood bid. Without specifically saying which way France would vote, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hinted at support.
“I would like to remind you of campaign pledge number 59 of…President François Hollande, which said that there would be an international recognition of a Palestinian state,” Fabius told members of the French Senate.
A French government source said the comment was intended to indicate that Paris was leaning towards voting for the Palestinian request.
During a visit by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Paris late last month, Hollande said he regretted “the temptation of the Palestinian Authority to go to the General Assembly to get what it couldn’t through negotiations.”
But Fabius, who met Abbas last weekend amid attempts to secure a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, appeared to be signaling a change of tack.
The government of then-president Nicolas Sarkozy voted in favor of granting the Palestinians full membership of UNESCO last year.
One European official said that while it was clear Abbas had a built-in majority at the UN to get the measure passed, he wanted European support to ensure it had the legitimacy of the world’s established democracies. He said it was not clear whether the lack of EU support would prevent Abbas from moving forward with the bid.
Even during the height of the Gaza crisis, Netanyahu, during numerous talks he held with various world leaders, raised this issue. According to government sources, Netanyahu asked his interlocutors why they were not calling on Abbas to stop the rockets from Gaza.
“They would tell him to ‘get serious,’ and that Abbas has no control, to which Netanyahu would reply, ‘So what is all the talk about statehood recognition at the UN,’” one source said. The idea, he added, was to demonstrate how divorced from reality the whole UN proposal was, and how Abbas needed to be convinced not to go through with the plan.
Further, the source asked, “If the Palestinians go to the UN and get recognition, next time there is a rocket attack from Gaza, why can’t we attack Ramallah, and why can’t we take them to the ICC and accuse them of war crimes?” Reuters contributed to this report.
More words of wisdom from Dr Chandra Muzzaffar – President of the International Movement for a Just World and one of this world’s greats in the movement for justice and peace.
I had the privilege of meeting Dr Muzzaffar back in the 80′s, and despite issues with his health and life-long harassment, he continues to speak out clearly and powerfully on behalf of the oppressed everywhere. As one would expect, he has a special place in his heart for the Palestinian people.
RICHARD FALK DOES HIS DUTY
Once again, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Professor Richard Falk, has shown tremendous courage and integrity in calling for the boycott of major Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) that have dealings with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem “until they adhere to international rights, standards and practices.”
The call was made in Falk’s report to the UN General Assembly on the 24th of October 2012. In his report, he named companies such as Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Motorolla, the Volvo Group and Cemex, among others, as companies that have violated international human rights and humanitarian law by “exploiting Palestinian resources and helping Israel construct illegal settlements and providing security for them.” A boycott of these companies may compel them to pressurize the Israeli regime to change its behaviour towards the Palestinians. It may result in the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the West Bank and in the dismantling of the settlements paving the way for a genuine peace founded upon justice.
As expected, United States and Israeli officials criticised Falk severely for proposing the boycott. The US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, for instance, dismissed it as “irresponsible and unacceptable.” A spokeswoman for the Israeli regime rubbished the proposal as “a distasteful sideshow.”
The Canadian government has gone even further. Its Foreign Minister, John Baird, has not only accused Falk of bias but has also called for his resignation as Special Rapporteur. His call echoes segments of the Western media and Western NGOs.
Rushing to the defence of Israel whenever its policies and actions are criticised has become an addiction for much of the West. It does not matter whether the criticism is legitimate or not. Often, the critic is savaged and vilified. There is no attempt to examine or evaluate the issue at hand in a dispassionate and objective manner. Richard Falk has been victim of this sort of irrational, almost fanatical obsession with Israel’s defence for a number of years now.
Falk’s boycott idea should have been viewed as a sincere attempt by a UN investigator on the plight of Palestinians living under occupation to lessen their pain and suffering by suggesting concrete, peaceful action that could be taken to force the occupier — the Israeli regime — to recognise the rights of the Palestinians and to be accountable to international law. He has proposed a measure which dovetails with a much larger international campaign — the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign— initiated some years ago by a number of NGOs which is now beginning to gain some momentum. Of course, boycotting powerful MNCs — as suggested by Falk— requires a lot of preparatory work and the mobilisation of public opinion which will take time. But it can be done.
By focusing upon boycott, Falk is sending an urgent message to the world. Take concrete action immediately to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Or face decades of violence and turmoil in West Asia and elsewhere. It is significant that he is doing this in his capacity as UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories.
For this is what a UN Rapporteur is supposed to do. Present an honest account of what is happening on the ground. Analyse the underlying causes. Propose tangible solutions.
Professor Richard Falk has done his duty. He has lived up to the ideals of the UN of protecting people from oppression and aggression and respecting the right of self-determination. He has fulfilled his mandate as Special Rapporteur.
The world should applaud him.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)
Malaysia. 29 October 2012.
Read articles by Richard Falk on his WordPress Blog
Father Roy writes: A “moment of truth” is approaching. The highlights in this article are mine. Peace, Roy
Palestinian leaders plan to shake up the 19-year-old peace process and proceed with a United Nations statehood bid next month over US objections, chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said.
“It’s a moment of truth,” Erakat said in an interview at his West Bank office in Ramallah. “We’re determined to change the status quo.”
The move to upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organization’s status to that of a “non-member state” in the UN General Assembly comes a year after the failed effort to obtain full membership through the Security Council, a step the Obama administration blocked.
By forcing the statehood issue Palestinians risk jeopardizing international aid that accounts for about 14 percent of gross domestic product and inviting retaliatory measures from Israel, which captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinian bid to upgrade its observer status at the UN is likely to pass the General Assembly, where the US has no veto as it does in the Security Council, Erakat said.
If the vote succeeds, “Palestine will become a nation under occupation,” Erakat said. “The moment we get this, every single thing Israel does in east Jerusalem or the West Bank will become null and void.”
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, told campaign donors that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is going to “remain an unsolved problem” and that the Palestinians are uninterested in peace. Romney made the comments at a closed fundraiser in May and they became public when a video of the event was posted September 18 by Mother Jones magazine.
Upgrading their status in the General Assembly would enable the Palestinians to join other UN agencies, including the International Criminal Court, where they could ask for Israel to be tried for war crimes, Erakat said.
“Israel’s main worry is the ICC,” said Erakat, who declined to specify whether they would proceed with the action. “They don’t want me to have a sword on their neck.”
Israeli leaders are concerned that a Palestinian victory at the General Assembly will bring a “new onslaught” against the Jewish state, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a telephone interview when asked about Erakat’s comments.
“It will accomplish nothing except for poisoning the atmosphere so that it will be impossible to resume negotiations,” he said.
If the two-state solution fails, Erakat says Israel will find itself by 2018 in control of a single “apartheid” state in which Palestinians outnumber the Jewish population.
“Mr. Netanyahu can’t maintain the status quo,” he said. “We aren’t going anywhere.”
It’s hard to know how to interpret this. Jordan is hardly a shining light of democracy and free speech in the Middle East, and is tightly allied with the US. Why has King Abdullah chosen this moment to court controversy and speak out in the defence of the Palestinian people? Are we missing a piece to this puzzle?
King warns against attempts to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim, Christian identity
His Majesty urges action for Mideast peace, reiterates need to end Syria bloodshed
The Jordan Times – September 26, 2012
AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah warned against attempts to erase the Arab, Muslim, or Christian identity of Jerusalem or invade Al Aqsa Mosque.
Delivering an address at the plenary session of the 67th UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the King urged the international community to send a clear message that any such transgressions will not be tolerated.
“We are extremely concerned by threats to Jerusalem and the sanctity of its Muslim and Christian holy sites,” he said, according to a transcript of the speech.
“The Al Aqsa Mosque and compound — Al Haram Al Sharif of East Jerusalem — is under Hashemite custodianship, a special role recognised by the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty, and protected as occupied territory by international law,” His Majesty said (see full text of the speech).
He noted that the importance of Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, to “one quarter of the world’s population” is similar to the importance of the Kaaba in Mecca.
“Let me be absolutely clear, any invasion or division of the site of Al Masjid Al Aqsa would be viewed, not only as a breach of Israel’s obligations, but as profound religious transgression.
“The international community must send a clear message that such a transgression — or any attempt to erase the Arab, Muslim, or Christian identity of Jerusalem — will not be tolerated,” King Abdullah said.
He reiterated that the current challenges facing the world should not make the international community lose focus “on the crisis at the heart of the region” — the Palestinian cause.
“For almost 65 years, the Palestinian people have been the exception to the UN promise. The shelter of international law and human rights: except… not yet. The dignity of living in freedom and security: except… not yet. The right to self-determination: except… not yet. Enough.”
His Majesty highlighted that the Arab Spring demanded dignity for all and also called for an end to “exceptionalism”.
“No single issue causes greater anger than to tell an entire people that when it comes to global justice, they don’t count.
“The Arab Summer cannot bear its full fruit, until the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ends, and ends with a just peace — and a Palestinian state living side by side with a secure Israel at peace with the entire region,” the King said.
“Earlier this year, in Amman, we succeeded in getting both sides back to the table for exploratory talks. Then positive traction stopped again. Illegal settlement building and unilateral actions continue, constituting direct threats to a negotiated peace,” he warned.
King Abdullah noted that “what is needed now is the full weight of our nations, united”, stressing that the both sides of the conflict and the entire world cannot afford continued hostility and insecurity.
“There may be a rare window of opportunity, later this year, after the US elections, to achieve what both sides so urgently need: two states, at peace, Palestine and Israel — both secure, both free to look forward — on the basis of a just, comprehensive and final settlement.”
His Majesty stressed that “it is time for Israel to turn around, look to the future we share, and make a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians”.
The King also touched on the “tragic situation” in Syria, stressing that the “violence must end immediately and a transition must begin now”.
“There is no alternative to a political solution, that will end the bloodshed, restore security and stability, and preserve the territorial integrity of Syria and the dignity and unity of its people,” he said.
His Majesty also highlighted the effect of hosting over 200,000 Syrian refugees on Jordan’s scarce resources.
“This has put heavy pressure on our limited resources and our economy. Yet we as Jordanians have opened our arms, as we have many times in the past for others in need,” he noted, stressing that more international support is required to deal with the exodus.
“We are very grateful for the generous response of governments, international bodies and dedicated UN organisations. The sombre reality is, however, that more will be needed, as the camps grow more crowded with vulnerable families and the cold desert winter approaches.
“I call upon the countries of the United Nations to work together to prevent a humanitarian disaster.”
The King also condemned any act that vilifies the name of Prophet Mohammad, Islam or any other religion or uses them to justify violence.
“There are no sidelines on this issue. All of us, of every faith, everywhere, must be pro-active in promoting understanding and a much stronger global dialogue,” he said.
“In Jordan we have charted our course guided by our heritage of mutual respect and moderation. Our Arab Spring journey is one of opportunity, to accelerate home-grown reforms and achieve national goals.”
The King also outlined the reform steps taken in Jordan since the last General Assembly meeting.
“Since then, new and comprehensive constitutional amendments, as well as new laws, have created a matrix of institutions and principles to support our path of reform and democratisation. And with the new year, we will have our new Parliament, and our Jordanian Summer will begin.”