The UN is all set to investigate Israel for war crimes. The specific framework of which is the targeted military aggression against Palestinians as they engaged in peaceful protests to commemorate Nakba Day or the catastrophe, while also demanding the right to return. The latest round of violence left 60 dead and some 2,700 wounded.
Yet even getting this far has not been an easy path. Not least because of the way the vote swung at the 47-member strong UN Human Rights Council. The resolution to approve the probe was passed 29-2. Fourteen states abstained, including Britain. Two voted against: the US and Australia. Meaning that the international community has once more betrayed the Palestinians.
The principle contentions are that the inquiry’s parameters are biased. In as much as these intend to hold the Middle East’s only democracy and military occupying power to account while making no mention of Hamas. Members of the latter did, admittedly, throw a couple of Molotov cocktails or send burning kites across the border. But, in the words of Michael Lynk, the UNHRC special investigator on the Gaza protest: “the overwhelming majority were non-violent, armed only with the most human of aspirations, to live free in one’s own land”.
And herein lies the rub. The international community’s most powerful members continuously peddle the myth that those who take up arms — from Hamas to Hezbollah to the IRA — to protest illegal military occupations are terrorists. Thereby effectively whitewashing the instigators of the original sin. And no one has paid the price for this more than the Palestinians. For the latter have been persistently cast in the role of non-sentient beings; a veritable threat to Israeli life and security. When, it is they who, in the words of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, are “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; dehumanised by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest”.
So, here we are. After 70 long years of being subjected to the largest land grab in modern history; after 70 long years of being wilfully denied the right to statehood this is where the world stands today on the Palestinian question. Israel is going to be probed for just one incidence of unwarranted violence against those whom it illegally and militarily occupies. And the saddest part of all is that this represents progress.
Depending on the outcome of the UNHRC inquiry, which will be submitted next March, additional steps are needed. All those who have propped up the Jewish state in its occupation of another people, another land; must also be investigated for complicity. For aiding and abetting an aggressor nation in the worst possible way. In short, because they have accorded Israel a legitimacy it neither deserves nor has earned. This cannot go on. *
Published in Daily Times, May 22nd 2018.