“For too long, the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley stated when she announced US intention to block the appointment of their former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as U.N. peace envoy to Libya. The US has said it now intends to walk the talk on its support to Israel. This means that there political ethics and moral politics will no more stand in the way of US support to the racist-apartheid regime. It will be on unabashed display as always.
The Security Council had been expected to approve Salam Fayyad’s appointment without objections. Fayed, a former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority was not seen as acceptable to USA’s friend “Israel”. The Palestinians condemned US rejection as “blatant discrimination”. Fayyad, 64, a Texas-educated former International Monetary Fund official, was prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013. He has also served as finance minister twice. He had earned praise in the international community for his efforts to crack down on corruption and to build effective Palestinian public institutions. There are already ramifications from the US veto suggesting that neither the new UN administration nor the disoriented US administration had thought through the best channels of getting Fayyad’s appointment approved. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres defended his choice of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad to be the UN peace envoy to Libya after the United States blocked the appointment. He underlined that the decision to put forward Fayyad’s candidacy recognized personal qualities and his competence for the position. UN spokes person Stephane Dujarric said: United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity. They do not represent any government or country.” he said.
It’s hard to discern which way the US will act politically on peace in the Middle East from now on. Trump has back tracked on a couple of major campaign promises. But he can be erratic and take bizarre decisions in keeping with his eccentric ways. If he chooses fanaticism on the prodding of the equally extremist Netanyahu, the region could implode. It’s not as if previous US Presidents were any more cogent in their policies towards Palestine-Israel.
The US does not rule itself. A lobby of dominant and inflexible Zionist lobbyists control decision making in the US. The President merely rubber stamps their decisions. The world saw Obama lead everyone into make-believe that he would be a peacemaker. He stole the Nobel Peace Prize using his silky talk and words. In that sense we have relief that Trump forewarns and allows the world to guess ahead of time. He does not hesitate to disguise his ‘rogue state control’ mind-set.
Israel’s blatant land theft law – where else in the world is there a law that legalizes theft? – has not received Trump’s reprimand. He has stated his disapproval of expanding settlements in an oblique way. Some European countries have made noises too but little by way of substance. So, that law will stand, at least for now, go uncontested politically at the global level.
Human Rights organizations and local Palestinian government authorities have vowed to contest it in court. The courts may not take a lenient view of the legislation. If moral grounds take precedence, it will be struck down. But, in Israel, the only thing that is predictable is lawlessness validated by large political support. There is a peace movement that stands away from what they deem illegitimate. But their impact is too small to matter, although they deserve huge respect for being able to stand against the odds. They will stand silenced.
And the resistance goes on internally and internationally. “A new Israeli law that retroactively legalizes the seizure of Palestinian land for Jewish settlements is an offense against justice”, said Bishop William Shomali, the patriarchal vicar for Jerusalem. The bishop said that the new Israeli policy makes the “two-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “almost impossible.”
Further afield, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine Israel (EAPPI), a group passionate about the power of people to make big changes in Israel and Palestine coalesces with volunteer human rights monitors, partner churches and organisations, diplomats and other decision makers, to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and hasten a just, peaceful and secure future for all.
Pax Christi International wants the EU to “take a much stronger stance towards the Israeli government in condemning policies incompatible with the human rights clause of the EU-Israel Association Agreement”. They have gone a step ahead calling for “suspending economic relations until Israel respects International law.
Every two years, Sabeel sponsors an international conference which attracts intellectual, spiritual and civic leaders from around the world. This year, Friends of Sabeel North America and Canada are sponsoring a pre-conference witness trip that will focus on popular resistance in Palestine and Israel. In Malaysia, BDS activists have caught Israel sneaking in goods through the backdoor. BDS Malaysia has demanded that Giant Hypermarket, the store where the goods were being sold immediately withdraw the all Israeli products. A nation-wide public campaign aimed at boycotting Giant is on and the Malaysian government will hopefully act firmly against Giant Hypermarket.
In Australia, churches through the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network (PIEN) are launching protest actions against Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu’s visit. They state: A statement says that to receive the PM “displays bias from our government, is not conducive to peace, and betrays the possibility of real peace for our Palestinian brothers and sisters… We believe this visit is an opportunity for people of peace to speak up, to call for our government to recognize the injustice of the Israeli occupation and to support Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and self-determination.
In Palestine, Rights Groups are exposing the outrageous record of human rights violations and the wider human rights community is taking notice and acting. There is visible improvement in political perceptions thanks to growing awareness that emanates from these campaigns.
Against the odds, in disaster-struck Gaza, Gaza children who were left blind from violence inflicting the besieged Palestinian territories have benefited from a new app to aid their rehabilitation and adjust to life with visual impairment. The Voice Dream Reader app now allows the children to “read with their ears” by using a touch sensitive computer tablet and text to voice technology. Vision Project has an immediate transformative effect on the quality of life of visually impaired students and teachers in Gaza,” said Interpal, the UK based charity that funded the project.
But the tragedies never stop unfolding. The report of the demolition of a house inhabited by a 100-year-old woman and her 60-year-old daughter, both of whom suffer from various health issues, has caused anger and disapproval from around the world. Left homeless, the women must now find healing from the dastardly act. To be ruthless is the nature of the Israeli occupation. A person’s home can be destroyed; but not a person’s dignity. The elderly women in the West Bank and the blinded children in Gaza know deep inside that justice will prevail.
Justice is not a goal that can be surrendered. The challenge for those parts of humanity who seek justice for the Palestinians is to reject Israel’s cruel occupation and to work to hasten the end of the occupation. We could borrow a lesson from a famed American baseball player, the Late Babe Ruth, in this struggle: “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up”.