The UN tramples over human rights for Israel’s benefit

Ramona Wadi 

Middle East Monitor  /   December 13, 2022

Rhetoric about alleged anti-Israel bias at the UN, despite how unfounded the allegations are, will never cease to reverberate. The US recently reignited its disapproval of the possibility of updating the UN’s Israeli settlement business blacklist, which it said could be detrimental to businesses. That, of course, is the point, in order to discourage businesses from profiting by trading in Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied Palestine. Besides opposing the UN database, the US State Department deputy spokesman also reiterated the refusal to cooperate with the UN.

“We have not provided and will not provide any information to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on this database, and our position has been repeatedly made clear in public statements as well as in meetings that we’ve had directly with the Office of the High Commissioner,” said Vedant Patel.

In February 2020, the UN created a database of companies operating within Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, which spans industries such as real estate, tourism, private security, construction, communications, manufacturing and technology. One particular observation included in the 2018 report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was how companies justified their presence in the occupied Palestinian territory by the premise of creating jobs for Palestinians, thus obscuring the complicity of setting up shop on Palestinian land expropriated by Israel for its colonial enterprise. Furthermore, the report notes that unemployment among Palestinians remained high, and businesses operating in settlement areas provided low income and low skill jobs for Palestinians, which is not conducive to independence or autonomy.

Companies also claimed to have a neutral stance of not taking “a political position in the conflict between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territory” and not actively supporting the Israeli occupation. Yet, the colonial context leaves no room for dispute; if companies have engaged with Israel’s colonial enterprise, a stance has been taken. In addition, companies are perpetuating the humanitarian paradigm through which the UN has shackled Palestinians since 1948. Not to mention that the majority of blacklisted companies are Israeli, hence claims of “impartiality” are fraudulent.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared recently that the Biden administration would unequivocally oppose settlement expansion and annexation. Of course, his rhetoric is mere lip service, yet it also exposes how the UN intentionally perceives settlement expansion only within the context of settlement building, instead of the entire colonial enterprise, which would comprise all settlement activity.

According to Axios, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk told US officials that any updates to the database would not be announced formally, indicating that human rights will once again be degraded in order to uphold Israel’s colonial expansion. In a way, Turk’s statement is reflective of the UN’s non-binding resolutions which audiences cheer but never implement. If the update is not announced formally, there will no impact on Israel whatsoever.

Even if the US deems the slightest nod by the UN towards Israeli human rights violations as “anti-Israel bias”, the truth is that there is no agency or body within the UN framework that is willing to face Israel’s security propaganda with truths that are based upon its own history of violence. So it is business as usual, with the UN trampling over human rights for Israel’s benefit.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America