Israel and the UN
Sir, – A letter by Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, was published in this newspaper on April 29th, the date on which Israel celebrated its 72nd year of renewed independence. During the past 72 years, Israel has established itself as a vibrant and thriving democracy while repeatedly being attacked, either on the battlefield or in international courts of opinion, and Prof Lynk’s letter is regrettably yet another example of this.
Israel’s declaration of independence was preceded by UN General Assembly resolution 181 on November 29th, 1947, also known as the Partition Plan, which recommended two states for two peoples in the territory of what was known then as Mandatory Palestine. While the Jewish leadership, after a heated debate, supported the adoption of that resolution, the Arab world – including the Palestinian leadership – vowed to prevent it from being implemented by means of war, thus leading the Middle East to decades of bloody conflict.
The War of Independence ended in 1949 with the line dividing the area of the mandate between Israel and Jordan, also known as the Green Line or the Pre-1967 line, being defined as an armistice line. The armistice agreement specifically stated that, “It is also recognised that no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.”
Jordan subsequently annexed the area of Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank. Only two countries, Great Britain and Pakistan, recognised that annexation. The Gaza Strip was taken and controlled by Egypt. In 1967, following the violation of the armistice agreement by Jordan, Israel was again forced to defend itself. In the ensuing war, Israel gained control of Judea and Samaria from Jordan. Ever since then these areas have been in dispute. It is noteworthy that throughout the period from 1949 to 1967, no call was heard to establish a Palestinian state in that area.
Israel recognises de facto the humanitarian aspects of the Geneva conventions as applying to Judea and Samaria.
The Israeli supreme court scrutinises all decisions that are taken in respect of the area and Palestinians are free to lodge complaints and appeal decisions in the court.
Israel has not transferred a single civilian into those areas. Jewish people who have chosen to live there have done so because of the conviction that they are returning to the land their forefathers were exiled from.
Unfortunately, while many in the UN play a positive role in encouraging dialogue and facilitating co-operation between Israel and the Palestinians, other parts of the organisation are devoted to promoting a divisive and biased anti-Israel agenda. The anti-Israel bias has been also acknowledged by former UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon in 2013 when he said, “Unfortunately, because of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, Israel’s been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias – and sometimes even discrimination”. Referring to the discrimination and double-standards applied against Israel, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said, in a public address to the World Jewish Congress in April 2017: “As secretary general of the United Nations I consider that the State of Israel needs to be treated as any other”.
The role of this rapporteur, which Prof Lynk holds, is one example of that anti-Israel bias. It does not even feign to address human rights in a meaningful way. This is evident from its mandate, which is “To investigate Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law, international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967”. Thus, this rapporteur is not required to investigate, for example, the numerous violations carried out by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas against their own people, the prosecution of LGBTQ individuals in Palestinian-controlled areas and certainly not the effects of Palestinian terrorism and violence against both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The mandate does not address human rights as such but its entire raison d’être is to vilify Israel. This mandate was created in 1993 by the infamous Commission on Human Rights – a UN body so distorted and politicised that it had to be dissolved in 2006 (another “highlight” of this body was electing Muammar Gadafy’s Libya to head it in 2003).
Anyone who truly aspires to help in solving the conflict should do so first by trying to understand and appreciate complexities (as we learn also from the conflict in Northern Ireland). An extreme anti-Israel approach, as contained in the so called “Occupied Territories Bill” (which in practice targets only Israel) cannot contribute to resolving the conflict but rather exacerbates it. – Yours, etc,
Ambassador of Israel,
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.