UN treats Israeli army as peacebuilding partner

A view of the peace process towards a two-state solution on the ground in Palestine: Israeli bulldozers destroy a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp and an Israeli settlement built in violation of international law looms over the valley.

Afif Amira WAFA

The tunnel vision of United Nations officials committed to a two-state solution at the expense of basic human rights principles is downright dangerous.

A UN “peacebuilding” official stated on Sunday that she had “good meetings today with Israeli interlocutors” including the military and foreign ministry.

The UN official, Rosemary DiCarlo, said that “pressing peace and security challenges” were discussed in the meetings. “Resuming the peace process is critical for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” she added.

It would seem that for DiCarlo’s Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, peace should come at the cost of justice.

The Israeli military has killed more than 200 protesters demanding their rights in Gaza since early 2018. Treating this brutally repressive body as a partner for peace undermines the urgent need for accountability for Israel’s crimes in Gaza and beyond.

Earlier this year, an independent UN commission of inquiry concluded that Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by using lethal military force against unarmed protesters in Gaza.

The human rights investigators called on third states to hold Israeli army snipers and commanders, as well as those who approved the rules of engagement, to account.

Toward that end, the commission handed over a file identifying those responsible for violations of international law to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights so that it would be transferred to the International Criminal Court.

By meeting with military officials, and the ministry concerned with shielding Israel from accountability, while treating them as partners for peace, DiCarlo is directly undermining the UN commission of inquiry’s findings and recommendations.

Two-state solution trumps human rights

For some high-ranking UN officials, the moribund “peace process” towards a two-state solution is more important than advancing and protecting Palestinians’ human rights.

On Monday, the UN’s Middle East peace envoy tweeted a photo of him and DiCarlo meeting with a group of students in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank:

The students attend a school operated by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees.

“I hope these young girls grow up to participate in #democratic elections where #Palestine, #Israel live side-by-side in #peace & #security,” Nickolay Mladenov, the UN envoy, stated.

His tweet implies that the girls in his photo should remain refugees as adults. He does not wish for them to be able to exercise their right to return, as is their right under international law, nor their right to self-determination.

Instead, he wishes for a political framework that would likely prevent them from exercising these rights.

While DiCarlo, and presumably Mladenov, were meeting with Israeli military and foreign ministry officials on Sunday, Israel’s interior ministry announced that it was moving to revoke residency status from and deport Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti.

For years Israel has sought to criminalize and silence Barghouti, who is a founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Modeled on the successful campaign to end apartheid in South Africa, the Palestinian-led boycott movement seeks to build international pressure on Israel to stop its human rights violations.

Israeli foreign minister Yisrael Katz has previously called for “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence. The Hebrew term Katz used was similar to the Israeli term for “targeted assassinations.”

UN officials like DiCarlo and Mladenov treat the very ministries persecuting Palestinian human rights defenders as partners for peace.

Safeguarding Israeli impunity

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights continues to delay the release of a database of companies complicit with Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank.

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution requesting that the high commissioner “produce a database of all business enterprises engaged in certain Israeli settlement activity.”

The high commissioner has failed to fulfill that mandate.

Last week, Palestinian and international human rights organizations stated that the high commissioner’s “repeated delays in releasing the database and transmitting the data promote impunity and enable further entrenchment and expansion of illegal settlements.”

UN officials behave as though their role is to safeguard Israeli impunity, rather than to uphold the rights of Palestinians, denied for so long.

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None more justly merit the execration "hypocrites" than EU and UN officials who do everything possible to ensure the permanence of Israel's violent rule over Palestine while bleating ad infinitum about the fabled "peace process" and its equally numinous goal, the "two state solution". They're not blind. They know exactly what they're doing, buying time for Israel to realise its genocidal ambition. There's no element of passion, least of all fanaticism, to their work- just calculation. They serve the powerful and betray the weak, because it pays in job advancement, personal wealth, lifestyle, connections.

The medieval Italian poet Dante assigned such figures to the Eighth Circle of Hell, where various species of Fraud were punished. I'd prefer today's practitioners wake up one day in a refugee camp or an Israeli prison, inside a skin that's identifiably Palestinian. And that nothing they say or do or promise can change their jailer's attitude or stay his hand from striking at them. They can praise the IDF and the Apartheid regime all they want, but it won't change their race or status in the eyes of their captors. "I am the Honourable Nickolay Mladenov," a voice cries out. "Let us live side by side, in peace and security!" "I'm Rosemary DiCarlo," calls another. "We had good meetings together- don't you remember?" And the only reply they receive is an extension of their sentence.

I know this little daydream is childish and unproductive. But I just wish these bureaucrats could experience for even a day the effects of their despicable hypocrisy.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.