Adnan Abu Amer
Middle East Monitor / December 9, 2022
Although the United Nations was the one that established Israel and granted it international legitimacy, the latter launched a major political, diplomatic and media attack against the UN organization recently, accusing it of being biased in favour of the Palestinians, who have gained many political and legal achievements that Israel classified as diplomatic setbacks for it.
The United Nations General Assembly has recently endorsed a Palestinian proposal to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Nakba in May 2023, in conjunction with the celebrations marking the anniversary of establishing Israel. Israel became more furious because of the overwhelming approval the Palestinian proposal received, with the support of 90 countries, which gave an impression of the credibility of the Palestinian narrative in the international community.
The support of the UN General Assembly for the Palestinian proposal came after an approval by the UN Special Committee on Politics and Decolonization a few days ago, by a majority of votes of another Palestinian proposal calling for an urgent opinion from the International Court of Justice in The Hague on the legal significance of the continued Israeli Occupation. Such a decision means that the International Court of Justice will sentence Israel, as 98 countries voted in favour of it, 17 others opposed it and 52 countries abstained.
While Israel considered that the results of the vote indicate a continuation of the conflict with the Palestinians, its ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Ardan, described these results as a shame for the United Nations, ignoring the fact that the continuation of the Occupation is a shame itself.
The new UN resolution reveals the decline of Israel’s position in the international organization, even though it was the one that founded it and declared its establishment more than seven decades ago. However, the series of aggressive Israeli policies against the Palestinian people prompted many countries to refuse to acknowledge it, and to assert that Israel does not have open approval for its violations and crimes against Palestinians. This has become evident in several recent international resolutions and draft laws in which the Palestinians realized great political achievements, and the Occupation suffered humiliating setbacks.
In the meantime, the Israeli mission to the United Nations expressed aggravation at “The Question of Palestine and the United Nations” exhibition displayed at the entrance of the UN Security Council in New York, which is the finest piece of real estate in the UN building. The Israeli mission claims that the exhibition lacks impartiality as it presents the Palestinian narrative only about the decades-long conflict. Nearly one million tourists get to see the exhibition every year and, thus, get to learn more about the Israeli Occupation and the Palestinian struggle against it.
The exhibition received enough votes at the UN General Assembly to be placed where it is, and the only way to get rid of it would be through a counter vote under Israeli pressure. However, the UN responded by saying that there is also an exhibition for the Holocaust, which invalidates the Israeli allegations, and the Israeli protest loses credibility.
Israel is annoyed at this Palestinian exhibition at the UN headquarters because a million tourists pass by it every year and get to see the history of the Palestinian cause, presented on a green wall decorated with an olive tree with pictures of Palestinian women pointing their fingers at the Occupation army at the West Bank checkpoints, children carrying school bags on the ruins of houses destroyed by the Occupation Air Force in Gaza, and a crowded street in a refugee camp in blockaded Gaza. It also shows an inscription of a Resolution by the International Court of Justice stating that “the construction of the wall by Israel, the Occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, is against international law.”
Israelis do not hesitate to accuse the exhibition of being part of a media campaign in favour of the Palestinian cause, with a location that is in front of the Security Council that discusses the Palestinian issue. However, despite the many Israeli complaints filed against the exhibition, it cannot be removed or changed, because it is a UN decision by vote, and the only way to change it would be through a new decision of the Assembly with a majority of votes. This is something Israel, which is currently facing a state of hostility in UN institutions, lacks right now.
This exhibition constitutes an additional example of the Occupation’s loss of what it calls the battle of the narrative to Palestinians, who are now gaining successive achievements in international public opinion. Despite the Occupation’s lethal military capabilities, it does not hide its loss in the media, where it has failed on so many occasions on the diplomatic and media fronts around the world.
On the other hand, Israeli political and diplomatic officials have revealed that they are considering taking a decision to prevent the Envoy of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Italian lawyer Francesca Albanese, from entering the Occupied Palestinian Territories, claiming that she made a series of statements, some of which, during a press conference in the Gaza Strip, were in favour of Palestinian Resistance organizations, and other statements in which she supported attacks against the Israelis.
Israeli officials say that preventing her from entering Israel is inevitable, claiming that she addressed Palestinians saying that “you have the right to resist the Occupation,” stressing that “resistance is inevitable, because Palestinians have been denied their right to exist for 55 years”. She had previously compared the Palestinian Nakba that took place in 1948 to the Holocaust that happened to the Jews during World War II, and she accused Israel of being an apartheid State.
Albanese previously worked in the legal department of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). She prepared several studies on the issue of Palestinian refugees and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the investigation of Israeli violations of the principles of international law, international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions. Perhaps this humanitarian CV, in addition to her legal and human rights positions that rejects Western hypocrisy and double standards that favour the Occupation, are what aggravated and disturbed Israel.
Albanese is not the only UN Envoy the Occupation considers preventing from entering the Occupied Territories. The list is long, and includes senior international diplomats just because they made statements hostile to the Occupation, and supportive of the Palestinian Resistance. This shows the state of hysteria that afflicts Israel as a result of any international position that supports the Palestinian cause and reveals the violations of the Occupying Forces and crimes committed against the Palestinian people, in violation of international laws.
Adnan Abu Amer is the head of the Political Science Department at the University of the Ummah in Gaza