Centre for Research on GlobalisationCentre de recherche sur la mondialisation
The search for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East continues, as it has been since the rise of the “Palestine question”, but with no meaningful success. The primary causes of the successive failures are US' unreserved bias in favour of Israel, which also crippled and seriously compromised the role of the UN; the limited European commitment, restricting the scope of its role to what the US policy may tolerate; and, of course, the colossal Arab failures and incoherent “strategies” towards this historic century- old conflict.
The situation is now steadily worsening and the elements of the conflict are fossilising, growing in complexity and size to a level where the fear of having to live with this vicious confrontation for many more years, if not decades to come, is becoming a petrifying reality.
This evidently is the case because the search for the peace, which we all need, has mostly been elusive, hesitant, timid and more oriented to meandering aimlessly on the safer route rather than undertaking the one that leads to the intended destination.
The seeds of this most monumental injustice in history were initially sown by the colonial powers, primarily by the British. But it was the UN, under the pressure and the scandalous manipulation of the smaller states by the superpowers, mainly the US, which endorsed the Zionist project and gave it legitimacy through its infamous partition resolution (General Assembly Resolution 181, Nov. 29, 1947) which “violated the provisions of the UN Charter, international law and practice and the people's rights to determine their future.” (Hadawi, `Bitter Harvest')
The pattern which evolved since then constitutes a shameful record of the UN failure in handling this case. Every resolution the UN passed had either been ignored and shelved, or Israel would take from it what suited its purposes and dropped the rest. Resolution 181, which provided for the partition of Palestine and the emergence of two states Arab and one Jewish state, ended up with the creation of a Jewish state only, occupying not just the 56.47 per cent of Palestine, as the partition plan has ruled, but expanding that part by military conquest and terrorisation of local Palestinians to 78 per cent, including most of Jerusalem, which was supposed to be a special International Zone, according to Resolution 181.
General Assembly Resolution 194 (Dec. 11, 1948) which resolved that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return (article 11) is still awaiting implementation. The Palestinian refugees, whose size has grown to over 5 million from 750,000 in 1948, are also still awaiting the UN-promised “earliest practicable date” for their return, well into their 54th year now.
Following the Israeli invasion of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in June 1967, the UN did again violate its own decisions, by sanctioning that the armistice demarcation lines of 1949, which were by no means intended to be final borders or frontiers, become the UN-recognised borders, according to Security Council Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967.
This resolution, which emphasised the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”, was also the one which legalised all the previous (1947-1948) Israeli territorial war gains, including Israeli acquisition of additional territories on all fronts, especially in the demilitarised zones after the armistice agreements were signed, violating by this its very letter and spirit.
Resolution 242, which has hardly been absent from any political statement related to the Arab-Israeli conflict for the last 35 years, and which in the Arab world we deeply venerate, is the one which pardoned Israel for all its aggressions and violations of international law, in return for its withdrawal from “territories” its armed forces occupied in June 1967. Again Israel took the suitable portions of the resolution and, as habitual, ignored the rest. But not only that. Israel went further, annexing Syrian territory on the Golan Heights, which remains occupied in flagrant defiance of the UN resolutions, in the same manner the West Bank and Gaza Strip remain under continuing military Israeli occupation to date.
It must be remarked here that the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai was not a direct act of implementation of Resolution 242, although the Israelis emphatically claim that it was the case, and therefore the territorial aspect of the resolution was mainly fulfilled.
The message of the UN submission to the fait accompli of which 242 was a striking example was both wrong and dangerous, because it encouraged the Israelis to be more defiant and to surge faster with the execution of their expansionist plans. They were almost told that whatever new facts they manage to create on the ground will determine their own legal validity and the UN will, in the end, acquiesce.
The UN failure to exert any effort towards the implementation of this and other resolutions reinforced this message by providing further proof that Israel can continue to ignore any UN resolutions without the risk of adverse consequences.
Israel as a result wasted no time, and immediately after the dust of the battle settled, it reactivated its plans for creating more facts on the ground, by building settlements and importing settlers to the very lands which the UN ruled should be freed from occupation, in the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and in Sinai.
For decades, dormant UN resolutions have been providing an umbrella not only for maintaining an illegal status-quo, but also for additional Israeli violations, rather than acting as verdicts and mechanisms for reversing them.
Normally, a Security Council resolution is a valuable legal document that guarantees justice and preserves the rights of nations and states. That was supposed to be the case with respect to 242. But after the UN allowed its value, together with many other resolutions, to deteriorate, it became undermined and valueless.
The phenomenal erosion of the UN credibility and authority has been largely responsible for the continued failure of peace efforts, simply because the protection and unlawful cover it offered Israel (even if that was the result of the unchallenged US influence) have all along encouraged Israeli intransigence and disrespect for international law. Every UN failure sows the seeds for the next conflict. And the more the peace efforts continue to circulate around the problem with no political nerve to head directly towards it and tackle it at the core the more failures will be reaped.
There is no way to make any progress towards a settlement without confronting Israel head on, demanding an end to the occupation, the removal of all settlements, the return to the June 4, 1967, borders, including East Jerusalem, and negotiating a just resolution for the Palestinian refugee problem on the basis of international law. There is no other way. It is logically and empirically impossible to solve a problem by keeping it causes. Any deceptive moves, any suspicious arrangements woven in the darkness of duplicity and intrigue would, in the end, as the Oslo deal did, explode in the face of their creators.
Every attempt to short circuit right, legality and justice may bring some short-term benefits to the favoured side, but it will, in the long run, end up harming all and serving none.
All those who have supported Israel all along, protected its arrogance, aggression and limitless excesses have, in fact, contributed to the terrible mess Israel is trying desperately to extricate itself from.
If from those blind supporters Israel got honest, objective advice instead, it would probably now be with much more of the peace and security it needs, with much more normal relations with its surroundings, and with none of the violence that is the most common product of occupation, aggression and oppression of others.
There is no excuse for the Europeans and the Arabs to justify inaction on the grounds that the US is the only power that can influence Israel into falling in line. That can only be true in the absence of the Europeans and the Arabs whose immediate and active involvement is urgently required if any change is ever to happen.
Copyright © Jordan Times 2002. For fair use only
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