Palestine: US & UN Join Israel To Turn The Screws
Palestine: U.S. And U.N. Join Israel To Turn The Screws
Report – By Julie Webb-Pullman In Gaza
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- Gazans Begin Their Own Blockade, of UNRWA - Photo Story
- Gaza Feature: You Can’t Develop An Economy Based On Tunnels
The last week has seen Gaza cut off from the outside world for over 12 hours (1), UNRWA indefinitely suspend its relief activities in the West Bank city of Jenin (2), and USAID assistance programs “put on hold effective August 12”. (3)
Regarding the first incident, an Israeli military bulldozer managed to "accidentally" dig an 8 metre hole to destroy the first cable, then another 20 metres to reach the back-up cables and take the whole network down...it brought back memories for many Gazans of how their communications were similarly cut 24 hours before the launch of Operation Cast Lead in December 2009...this time, communications were reconnected, but have left many fearful it was just a practice run, and waiting for the bombs.
Meanwhile in the West Bank, UNRWA saw fit to suspend relief to thousands of people in Jenin, site of an Israeli massacre in 2002 for which it has still not been held accountable. (4) In what critics describe as “collective punishment” of the 16,000 residents of the refugee camp and more than 10,000 of the town, UNRWA cited threats against its staff (without specifying either the threats, or to whom they were directed) as grounds for suspending relief and social services, leaving at least 14,000 workers without any means to support their families. Ramadan Kareem, Jenin.
UNRWA’s security, like Palestinians’, depends largely on Israel complying with international law – and THATis in the hands of the U.N. They must take the requisite measures to ensure it, not by further punishing Palestinian refugees, but by finally, and unequivocally, standing up for Palestinians’ rights, holding Israel accountable for its numerous breaches, and compelling it to behave like a responsible international citizen by all means at its disposable – even it includes U.N. reform or dissolution.
Meanwhile back in Gaza, the United States jumped on the bandwagon on Friday, citing Hamas interference with NGOs as their justification for putting all of their programmes on hold. Imagine - Hamas had the audacity to attempt to establish accountability of organisations working in the territory under its governance – exactly what the New Zealand Charities Commission does on behalf of the New Zealand Government every day.
“We do this so the public can be assured that registered charities meet all the requirements of the Charities Act, and can feel trust and confidence in them and their activities,” says the NZ Charities Commission on their website. “The Compliance team receive and investigate complaints about charities, and we also open our own enquiries into charities and people that may be involved in serious wrongdoing.” (5)
It’s clearly okay for the New Zealand government to seek to hold charitable organizations operating in NZ accountable to the NZ public, but not okay for the Gazan government to do the same...
Doing Israel’s dirty work is hardly anything new for the U.S. – after all, they fund the Israeli war machine to the tune of $8.2 million dollars a day. (6) And the role of USAID in both attempted regime change, and dodgy financial practices throughout Latin America and beyond, is almost as legendary as its antics in Guantanamo and Abu-Ghraib.(7)
Besides, every country on the verge of a meltdown seems to be a dog being wagged by the Israeli tail, with like disregard for law, international or otherwise. Witness Greece and their breaches of maritime law in preventing the Freedom Flotilla 2 from leaving its ports for Gaza only weeks ago.(8)
Witness Israeli breaches of aviation law, the Montreal Convention, in arresting and deporting travellers in transit in an Israeli airport on their way to Palestine in July – a minor offence in comparison to their massacre of nine humanitarian aid personnel on the Mavi Marmara in international waters in May 2010.
Witness the 80 U.N. Security Council Resolutions since 1948 directly critical of Israel for violations of the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, international terrorism, and other violations of international law – and US veto of 43 of them. The power of veto surely must top the UN. reform list.
While few are surprised by Israel’s latest skulduggery, or the U.S. flexing its fading financial muscle in complicity, there is considerable surprise – and fear – at the suspension of UNRWA programmes in Jenin, and what this might signify for Gaza.
Hot on the heels of Ban Ki-moon’s bizarre letters to several Middle Eastern leaders with citizens participating in the Freedom Flotilla, in which he told them that supplies must be transferred to the Gaza Strip through “legal channels”, these events make many fear that the U.N. has moved from an independent position to Israel’s side of the fence. Otherwise, why does his organization not make the same demand of Israel - and impose similarly draconian measures on the Isreali population..
It is a tragedy that the U.N. Security Council has so dismally failed Palestinians in its inability to either guarantee their security, or to compel Israel to comply with international law.
It is a farce that Israel has for over 60 years destroyed, pillaged, plundered and murdered and not only never been held responsible, but has also left the international community to pick up the tab.
It is an insult to the American tax-payer that they are funding this carnage to the tune of $8.2 million a day while their own economy goes down the gurgler - and an even greater insult to the people of the world, who must fund reparation of the damage wrought by these two rogue states over and over again.
It is perhaps no coincidence that these events are taking place in the run-up to the U.N .vote for Palestinian statehood in September – nothing like a bit of psychological terrorism like isolation, withdrawal of funds from an area 80% aid-dependent and already under land, sea and air siege, and the re-abuse of a refugee population severely traumatised less than a decade ago, to put the screws on.
It will be an utter catastrophe if UNRWA, the one U.N. organ specifically charged with providing the victims of unfettered Israeli genocide with relief, were now to withdraw it.
But it will be an even greater catastrophe for the last vestiges of credibility still clinging to the U.N. If they haven’t managed to guarantee Palestinian rights and security after 64 years, what confidence can we have in that body?
Israel has got away with flouting more U.N. resolutions criticising it than the rest of the world combined, leaving absolutely no doubt that U.N. instruments and bodies are incapable of enforcing their mandates under the current system.
If UNRWA’s cessation of relief and social work underscores a new attitude by the U.N. towards Palestinian rights, as indicated by Ban Ki-moons entreaty NOT to provide humanitarian assistance to meet a need created by an illegal Israeli occupation and blockade, it is compelling evidence that a new international body is needed. A Humanitarian Emergency Peace Fundalong the lines of that proposed by Richard Falk and others (10) may well prove a more fruitful endeavour than the current flawed system, and should be pursued with the utmost urgency.
Meanwhile, and as usual, Palestinians are held hostage, and it is left to the international citizenry to deliver essential aid, and to hold Israel accountable by whatever peaceful means are available – most effectively, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and humanitarian aid convoys – international law and organisations sure haven’t worked.
Julie Webb-Pullman (click to view previous
articles) is a New Zealand based freelance writer who
has reported for Scoop since 2003. She recently managed to
get into Gaza during a brief period when the Rafah Gate was
(7) http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2008/allard230908.html and http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9346:international-aids-nonprofit-hit-by-financial-questions&catid=155:nonprofit-newswire&Itemid=986
(9) http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/01/27/rogue-state-israeli-violations-of-u-n-security-council-resolutions/ and http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/usvetoes.html