For a United Nations Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Jewish People
On November 25, 2013 the United Nations will not be discussing the most urgent current international problem, preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Instead, it will be observing the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Other observances will take place in Geneva and Vienna. The International Day takes place in accordance with mandates given by resolutions of the UN General Assembly in December 1977 (32/40) and December 1979 (34/65D) and in subsequent resolutions.
These resolutions called for the Day of Solidarity each year on or around November 29nd to take place at the UN Headquarters. This date refers to the date in November 1947 when the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 (II), the Partition Resolution, which provided for the establishment in Palestine of two states, a "Jewish state" and an "Arab state," with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under a special international control. As a result of that Resolution the State of Israel was created on May 14, 1948.
It is the height of irony that the Palestinians and their supporters commemorate a Resolution that they rejected in 1947 when the Arabs refused to establish an "Arab state." The Solidarity Day provides the opportunity for the so-called international community to focus its attention not on an objective discussion of the issues involved in the differences between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab states. Rather, it is focused on the Palestinian assertions in their narrative of victimhood. Among those assertions are that Palestinians have not attained their inalienable rights, the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right to return to their homes and property.
All these, of course, are arguable and should be the subject of direct negotiations between the two parties, Palestinians and Israel. However, the Solidarity Day is organized by members of the bodies of considerable size within the UN Headquarters: the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) and the Division for Palestinian Rights (DFPR) in the UN Secretariat. In what appears to be part of an intimate relationship, these bodies are instructed to organize a special meeting to which the major officials in the UN and other organizations speak. Accompanying this meeting are special messages and publications expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people, and an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights or a cultural event in cooperation with the Palestinian observer at the UN. Since UN GA Resolution 67/19 in 2012 this latter person has represented the non-member observer state of Palestine.
The background for all this shows the inherent bias of the UN in issues dealing with the State of Israel in the Middle East. In 1975 the UNGA (Resolution 3376) set up the CEIRPP which would then recommend a program to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their rights to self-determination, and to return to their homes and property. The UNGA accepted the recommendations of CEIRPP, and also set up the DFPR as its secretariat on the issue. The CEIRPP has organized international meetings and conferences , and issues reports and information on Palestine. The reality is that these UN organizations, paid for by the U.S. to a considerable extent, have become major pressure groups and lobbyists for the Palestinian cause.
The nature of that lobbying is clearly evident in the most recent statement by the Bureau of the Committee issued on November 7, 2013. It condemned the "continuing expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem." It referred to the City, that is Jerusalem, as part of the Occupied Territory. In view of the continuing turmoil in the Arab states and their indifference to the issue of Palestinians, and the civil war in Syria with more than 120,000 slaughtered and more than a million refugees fleeing the country, the Committee persists in its position, that the problem of Palestine continues to aggravate the Middle East conflict of which it is the core, and to endanger international peace and security. Similarly, its shortsighted view is that the root cause of the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the illegal occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The Bureau even spoke incorrectly about facts on the ground, in calling for support of the Middle East peace process for the achievement of the two-state solution in the basis of the nonexistent "1967 borders. "
THE Bureau of the CEIRPP says nothing about the tension among the Palestinians between Fatah and Hamas which has controlled the Gaza Strip since July 2007. Hamas has continually disobeyed the call of the now ill-fated Quartet (U.S., European Union, Russia, and the UN). This was formed after Yasser Arafat had created the second Intifada in 2000 that caused the breakdown of negotiations. The Quartet tried to mediate between the two parties, and in April 2003 drew up a Road Map for peace presented to both parties at Aqaba. It called for called reciprocal steps on a wide range of issues, for non-violence, recognition of Israel, and for Palestinian acceptance of previous agreements: the agenda was not accepted by the Palestinians.
What is significant in this is not simply the expected bias and one-sidedness of a Palestinian organization within the UN which ignores the objective advice of parallel implementation of obligations and monitoring and accountability on both sides.
The major issue is the devastating commentary on the UN itself that this Committee and its secretariat are the only UN organizations devoted to and being well paid to push the agenda for a particular people. Is it too much to argue for a new unit within the UN? Taking note of the rising anti-Semitism within European and other countries, the continuing assaults, physical and verbal, on the State of Israel, and the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, this unit would be the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Jewish People. Perhaps Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the UN, can introduce such a resolution.
Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.