A Palestinian Miracle at the UN?

Since the foundation of the United Nations’ Security Council, the Palestinians did not manage to have any kind of sway that would allow them to block or amend a proposed resolution in any meaningful way.

But miracles do indeed happen, as, for the first time, and after days of intense lobbying, a Palestinian delegation recently killed a draft resolution. Not only this, it also managed to block a presidential statement which is usually made when a resolution is buried, by way of explaining the circumstances behind its rejection.

But this ‘miracle’ has a bizarre twist. The resolution, drafted by Qatar and seconded by Indonesia, was merely expressing concern over the humanitarian disaster intensifying in the Gaza Strip and the deteriorating plight of one and a half million Palestinians dwelling, or more accurately, imprisoned there, lacking all imaginable necessities – electricity, fuel, clean water, food and medicine.

One would typically expect it to be Israel dispatching its delegations to the UN, armed with every possible pretext to deny Palestinians even the smallest window of opportunity to argue for their concerns – such as protection for refugees, humanitarian aid, or investigations into massacres.

Historically, support for Palestine remained high in the general assembly, despite Israel’s strategic development and detonement of anti-Semitic politics to intimidate member states. Not surprisingly, it was in the security council that Israel invested most of its energy, with US and Israeli ambassadors to the UN working diligently to block any SC resolution by buying the support of veto and rotating non-veto wielding members, or by bullying the daring few to withdraw their support for any particular draft.

More often than not, the US would insist on re-drafting a resolution before putting it to the vote.

If this did not work, a US veto was guaranteed. In recent years, starting with Madeleine Albright (later Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State) to John Negroponte (later US Ambassador to Iraq and now Deputy Secretary of State) to the present Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad (former US Ambassador to Iraq), the US anti-Palestinian stance has hardened beyond any possibility of compromise.

It was Negroponte who brazenly declared in 2002 that the US would veto any resolution regarding Israel that fails to condemn Palestinians.

In other words, Israel could get away with murder without any objection from the council.

Consequently, Palestinians fought with all of their might, with the help of various Arab ambassadors and other representatives to tip the balance in their favour, but to no avail. As long as the US remained at the helm of this undeniably corrupt arrangement, Palestine remained powerless to secure any tangible international support.

Keeping such a legacy in mind, it came as an unparalleled shock to learn of the double ‘successes’ of the Palestinian delegation to the UN on July 30, with, first, Qatar pulling out its resolution regarding Palestine, and second, the UNSC’s presidency refraining from issuing a statement to explain what went wrong.

Qatar’s hope had been to support starving Palestinians in Gaza and win some international sympathy on their behalf, which might embarrass Israel into allowing some urgent supplies into Gaza.

A few months ago, one would have thought such an event to be simply impossible: A Palestinian delegation, lobbying tirelessly at the UN to block a UN call for helping half of the Palestinian population living in complete isolation and facing ceaseless Israeli attacks in the occupied territories.

What could possibly justify such cruelty? To ensure that Hamas’ isolation is complete? To deny the ‘Islamists’ of Gaza the opportunity to score a point against the ‘secularists’ of Ramallah, thus to operate for a few more months before the mass starvation kicks in? Even these pitiful excuses no longer suffice.

However, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, tried his best to justify the scandal on the basis that “it is unacceptable for anyone, including friends, to act on our behalf without our knowledge no one should take such initiatives without consulting us.”

I wonder if Mr Mansour worried himself too much about the plight of Wael Abu Warda, 27, who died on August 4 from Kidney failure while waiting at Erez crossing, separating Gaza from Israel, or the many such individuals who die everyday in Gaza’s rundown hospitals?

Moreover, were the immediate needs of Gaza and its largely unemployed and malnourished population part of the Palestinian agenda when Condoleezza Rice visited Ramallah and met with Mahmoud Abbas, his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and his 14-member cabinet? Or did the $80 million Framework Agreement – a US reward to Abbas for following the American script to the letter – set aside a tiny amount for milk, fuel and perhaps couple of dialysis machines for those suffering in Gaza?

Back to the Palestinian ‘success’ at the UN, the miracle was of course no miracle at all; Palestinians had clearly utilised the same mechanism that Israel had used for years to block the mere possibility of bringing attention to the plight of Gaza. One hates to invoke the proverbial idea of Palestinians being their own worst enemy, but very few terms can describe the unfolding travesty, compounded by the fact that the Zionist lobby at the US Congress is now actively lobbying on behalf of Abbas.

$80 million seems too cheap a price for selling out one’s own people.

But considering the extreme circumstances, in the eyes of some, the price is just right.

RAMZY BAROUD teaches mass communication at Curtin University of Technology and is the author of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle. He is also the editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com. He can be contacted at: editor@palestinechronicle.com



Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net