Earlier this month, as Israeli massacres claimed dozens of lives every day and night in Gaza, 129 Palestinian and international organizations sent an open letter condemning UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s role as a partner in Israel’s crimes.
They criticized his “biased statements,” his “failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, which amount to war crimes.”
They called on him to “stand for law and justice or resign.”
“After this latest round of killing and the further widespread destruction of Palestinian homes, civilians on both sides need a reprieve in order to resume their daily lives, and to allow for humanitarian and early recovery efforts to address the desperate needs of the people in Gaza,” Ban said.
But Ban continued (emphasis added):
Any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence. Gaza must be brought back under one legitimate Palestinian Government adhering to the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] commitments; the blockade of Gaza must end; Israel’s legitimate security concerns must be addressed. The United Nations stands ready to support efforts to address the structural factors of conflict between Israel and Gaza.
The Secretary-General remains hopeful that the extended ceasefire will act as a prelude to a political process as the only way of achieving durable peace. The two-state solution is the only viable option. The Secretary-General urgently calls on both parties to return to meaningful negotiations towards a final status agreement that addresses all core issues and ends the 47-year occupation.
It is not up to Ban to dictate internal political arrangements to Palestinians, but what concerns me is his insistence that any Palestinian “government” must adhere to “PLO commitments.”
What he means is that it must adhere to the so-called “Quartet principles” dictated by the United States in 2006 after Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections.
These require Palestinians to “be committed to nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map.”
What this meant at the time and means in the present context is that Palestinians must unilaterally accept Israel’s political demands and renounce resistance and self-defense.
It would be one thing if Ban were even-handed and demand that Israel also renounce violence, but he does not do so. Instead he makes a nod to Israel’s “legitimate security concerns” as if it were not the Palestinians who have actually faced apocalyptic destruction – the equivalent of an atomic bomb dropped on Gaza – at the hands of Israel.
It is also notable that Ban utters not a single word about Palestinian rights. Instead he uses the vague and deceptive formula of a “final status agreement that addresses all core issues and ends the 47-year occupation.”
This may be news to Ban, but eighty percent of Gaza’s residents are refugees. Yes, they are resisting to end Israel’s 47-year occupation. But they are also demanding an end to their 66-year exile from their homes in present-day Israel. Their right of return cannot be trumped by Israel’s racist demand to be recognized as a “Jewish state.”
Oxfam backs Israel’s right to kill Palestinians
Sadly, this unbalanced thinking, in which the aggressor and occupier’s right to use violence against its victims is sacred, and in which the victims must be disarmed, is not unique to the UN.
I was also disturbed to read a paper from the international development agency Oxfam which effectively endorses Israel’s right to kill Palestinians under certain circumstances, while denying Palestinians any right to resist (“Cease Failure: Rethinking seven years of failing policies in Gaza”).
The paper contains some useful suggestions to be sure, but apparently offers Israel advice on when it can kill its Palestinian victims in its self-declared buffer zones in the Gaza Strip and off Gaza’s coast (emphasis added):
Israeli activity is currently conducted under the laws of armed conflict, which allow for the legal use of deadly force under an extensive range of circumstances. A more appropriate approach is the law enforcement model, which would limit the legal use of deadly force to extreme circumstances, and only when all other non-lethal measures have proven insufficient.
While offering the Israeli occupation tips on when and how to kill Palestinians whose land it is occupying, Oxfam advises that Palestinians should be denied any means to self-defense and resistance.
It calls for “adequate inspection of the border between Egypt and Gaza to eliminate the smuggling of illegal weapons” but without describing any means by which Palestinians could legally obtain weapons to defend themselves.
Oxfam reaffirms its opposition to any Palestinian right to self-defense and resistance by demanding that a future “Palestinian government” be held “accountable to the current Quartet principles (renunciation of violence, acceptance of previous agreements signed by the PLO, and recognition of the State of Israel).”
This is simply astonishing. Oxfam should not give the occupier advice on how to occupy and how to refine its apparatus of siege, oppression and murder.
Instead, Oxfam should restrict itself to demanding that Palestinian rights, all Palestinian rights, be enforced and that Israeli individuals and the Israeli entity be held accountable for their atrocities in Gaza.
Let’s remember that Palestinian resistance would be unnecessary in the first place if the so-called “international community” – the US, EU and their client regimes – had not been arming, financing and supporting Israeli occupation, ethnic cleansing and colonization for all these decades.
Palestinians should no longer accept such language or demands from those who purport to support their struggle.