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Date posted: March 24, 2003
By John Austin MP

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on 12 September 2002, George W Bush said: ‘Are Security Council Resolutions to be honoured and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant? ...We want the resolutions of the world’s most important multilateral body to be enforced’.

George Bush and Tony Blair tell us that failure to act on UN resolutions brings the UN into disrepute. Yet neither does anything whilst Israel flouts resolution after resolution. No wonder there are accusations of double standards.

Israel ignores UN resolutions calling for withdrawal of its forces from the territory under armed occupation and the US ensures that no international action is taken. The UN recognises that Israel has committed serious violations of international law; breached the Geneva Conventions; and refuses to implement Security Council Resolutions, yet the UN has taken no measures against Israel and the violations continue.

‘Israel’s armed occupation of the Palestinian territories has been going on for 35 years, in spite of repeated UN calls for unconditional withdrawal’

This failure has led Israel to believe that it is immune from international law, reinforcing the sense of abandonment felt by the Palestinian people. It intensifies the hopelessness and despair in Palestine and anger in the Arab world which undoubtedly fuel acts of violent resistance.

Israel’s humanitarian crimes include torture, assassinations, arbitrary killings, deportations, destruction of houses and property and the systematic denial of freedom of movement. In the cases of Kosova, East Timor, Iraq and Rwanda, the UN Security Council did adopt enforcement measures such as arms embargos, economic sanctions, international tribunals for the prosecution of crimes against humanity and an international presence, in some cases monitors and in others military force. Not one of these remedies has been adopted over Israel’s violation of human rights and failure to comply with UN resolutions in Palestine. Indeed, when the UN voted to put in inspectors after the invasion and killings in Jenin, Israel objected and the UN caved in.

‘The US regularly vetoes Security Council Resolutions on Israel’

Israel has embarked on a systematic programme of ethnic cleansing, driving out Palestinians and increasing the Israeli presence in the occupied Palestinian territories by building illegal colonies on land confiscated from Palestinian families. Since the signing of the Oslo Agreements in 1993, the number of illegal Israeli ‘settlers’ has doubled to almost half a million.

Palestinian refugees, forced from their homes, have the right in international law to return to those homes; but despite repeated demands by the UN that Israel facilitate the return of Palestinian refugees, Israel continues to bar them and the international community does nothing.

Israel’s armed occupation of the Palestinian territories has been going on for 35 years, in spite of repeated UN calls for the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli armed forces. Recently, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1402 calling for the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Palestinian cities it had reinvaded. Israel again refused to withdraw. In other parts of the world, unlawful occupation has triggered economic sanctions and sometimes military force, but no action has ever been taken to enforce UN demands on Israel, and the US continues to fund the illegal occupation.

Why does Israel have immunity from measures to implement UN resolutions? The list of Security Council Resolutions which Israel has failed to comply with is too long to list here but defiance of the UN dates back to 1967 (SCR 237, 14 June 1967) on the right of return of Palestinian inhabitants forced to flee from their homes. SCR 242 (22 November 1967) referred to the ‘inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war’ and called for the ‘withdrawal of Israeli forces from territories occupied in the conflict...’ SCR 252 (21 May 1968) called on Israel to rescind measures changing the legal status of Jerusalem and to end its expropriation of land and properties. Similar resolutions have been passed in the succeeding decades, including ones indicting Israel for breaches of the Geneva Convention.

Resolutions continue to be passed stating that Israel must implement SCRs 237, 242 and 252. Resolutions calling for the end of illegal settlement activity were passed in 1979 (SCR 446, 22 March 1979 and SCR 452, 20 July 1979). In 1980 the UN called for the existing settlements to be dismantled (SCR 462, 1 March 1980).

All of these resolutions are regularly re-stated but none have been implemented and no action has been taken by the UN. Tony Blair warns against unreasonable use of the veto, but the US regularly vetoes Security Council resolutions on Israel and did so again last month. Israel would be in violation of many more resolutions of the Security Council if the US had not applied or threatened to apply the veto. And with all the current concern about weapons of mass destruction, has no one noticed the fact that Israel possesses them — and the capability to deliver them?

‘Whilst Iraq is sanctioned and bombed, Israel is given funds and arms’

Whilst Iraq is sanctioned and bombed, Israel is given funds and arms. If at least some economic measures were taken against Israel; if there was at least a UN arms ban, or some sign that the international community was taking the issue seriously, then the allegation of double standards might have less validity. As it is, the double standards and hypocrisy are there for all to see. By their inaction at the grave injustice to the people of Palestine; by US support for, and UK acquiescence in, the continued humiliation and oppression of Palestinian people, Bush and Blair act as recruiting sergeants for al-Qa’ida.

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