In 2000, President Clinton said of the Camp David Summit “Somehow you have to find a way to establish trust among adversaries…Agreement is not nearly as important as trust.” Clinton said of his involvement in the signing of the 1995 Oslo II Accords that the experience could be seen as an example for negotiators and mediators. In a conflict situation, the two sides must learn to work together and trust each other rather than rely on outside mediation.
This is a lesson the United Nations has yet to learn. In a continuation of its practice of targeting the one Jewish state, a resolution was recently submitted to the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly on the “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the OPT including East Jerusalem” which included a referral to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to ask for an advisory opinion. The assembly will vote on this resolution in the last week of December 2022.
While NZ, to its credit abstained on the initial vote for the proposed resolution, Minister Mahuta sent mixed messages with her tweet:
“Aotearoa NZ regrets our necessary abstention on the recent @UN General Assembly Fourth Committee vote on ‘Israeli Practices’, but remains committed to protecting & promoting the rights of Palestinian people”.
The resolution in question (Resolution A/C.4/77/L.12/Rev.1) is highly problematic. It is one-sided and employs language that pre-determines Israel’s guilt on issues that are contested and debatable.
The unilateral approach of taking Israel to the ICJ is counterproductive. Any chance of progress in the relationship between the parties will be severely reduced. Voting in favor of this resolution would contradict New Zealand’s long standing policy of balance, as well as the commitment to a negotiated settlement between the two parties.
Rather than enabling the parties to establish trust, as Clinton advised, the ICJ resolution will have the opposite effect. It will further entrench the divide between the two parties and any progress made in the past few months will be undermined.
Furthermore, the resolution ignores Palestinian agency. It ignores the fact that Israel has on several occasions offered ‘land for peace’ deals, which the Palestinians have refused to accept. According to Clinton, no agreement was reached under his aegis because although Israel, under Barak, agreed to give up 96 percent of the West Bank, the Palestinians, under Arafat, “never said yes.”
The reason is quite clear. The rhetoric of Palestinian leaders and the messaging on the street, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is a clear and unambiguous call to rid the entire land of Jews, as is “Intifada, intifada; globalise the intifada.” The Jewish nation born out of the ashes of the Holocaust is not going to give up all of its indigenous homeland. Israel has always been willing to compromise on land issues (as exemplified in its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005), however Israel is committed to providing a safe haven for Jews. The Jewish people have learnt the hard way that they can’t rely on other nations to protect them.
The ICJ resolution, like the other imbalanced UN resolutions singling out Israel, ignores the challenge Israel faces in the fight against terrorism. In the first six months of 2022, over 3,700 terrorist attacks were perpetrated against Israelis, leaving 21 people dead and 316 injured. While the world may continue to turn a blind eye to the murder of Jews, Israel will ensure the protection of its people.
Israel supports Palestinian self-determination, as long as peace is guaranteed. Israel has proven time and again a willingness to make peace; with Jordan and Egypt and under the Abraham Accords, we are witnessing a new paradigm for peace in the Middle East. Israel has signed four peace agreements with other states in the last two years.
If Minister Mahuta is serious about “protecting & promoting the rights of Palestinian people”, addressing the Palestinian leadership’s poor record on human rights is a good place to start. This includes the right to free elections, freedom of press, freedom from Fatah’s incompetence and corruption, freedom from hateful indoctrination and incentivisation to terror and the right for Palestinians to sell their own land to whomever they choose, without the risk of being beaten up or murdered.
No legislative or presidential elections have been held in the Palestinian territories since 2005. Abbas’s presidential term was supposed to end in 2009. Twelve years later in 2021, an election was planned, but Hamas was poised to sweep the parliamentary election. This was widely seen as the real reason for Abbas postponing the poll, citing Israel’s refusal to allow voting in East Jerusalem. The conflict between Hamas and Fatah has been ongoing since 2007, when the Islamists seized Gaza.
Fatah faces a severe leadership crisis, charges of corruption and lack of public support. These factors add to general insecurity and the alarming rise in terrorist activity. Palestinian lawyers and other unions have staged protests in recent months, challenged decision making processes, deep-rooted nepotism and corruption among senior officials.
Outrage in public discourse has focused on inequity in government appointments and in the management of capital-intensive projects, which are redirected to benefit the inner circle of Fatah. The Palestinian people who lose out on the benefits of investments in such projects are demanding transparency and accountability.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Palestinian leadership goes to extreme lengths in its persecution of journalists and activists. The HRW report documents more than 80 cases of torture and arbitrary arrests, some for nothing more than writing a critical article or Facebook post, others for belonging to the wrong student group or political movement.
Both the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza have in recent years carried out scores of arbitrary arrests for peaceful criticism of the authorities, particularly on social media, among independent journalists, on university campuses, and at demonstrations.
Children are indoctrinated to hatred with a school curriculum that encourages violence (and which the NZ government supports through its contribution to UNRWA), jihad and martyrdom, antisemitism, hate, and intolerance. This is further entrenched in Summer camps where children are encouraged to become martyrs and recruited to become child soldiers, a war crime.
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups are reportedly offering cash incentives ($200) for shooting attacks on Israelis, on condition that a video of the assault is published on social media. The families of ‘martyrs’ are given financial rewards and Palestinians are punished for selling land to Israelis.
When children are indoctrinated from babyhood, to hate and murder Jews, what hope is there for peace? If New Zealand is serious about seeking a solution to the Israel Palestinian conflict, and “committed to protecting & promoting the rights of Palestinian people”, it will call the Palestinian leadership to account and resist campaigns to demonise the world’s only Jewish state. This one-sided, biassed resolution will not help the Palestinian people, but will serve only to hinder and slow the path towards peace.