UN envoy promotes “peace” at expense of justice

A Palestinian woman is detained during a protest against Israeli police violence in East Jerusalem (Oren Ziv - ActiveStills)

Maureen Clare Murphy

The Electronic Intifada  /  July 15, 2020

The Middle East peace process, for which many an obituary has been written, remains alive and, if not exactly well, it at least maintains some people’s salaries.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East peace envoy, tweeted a screenshot of a video conference between Palestinian and Israeli “peacebuilders” on Monday. He hailed what he called an “excellent discussion” on dialogue and “keeping the prospect of peace alive.”

Some of the Palestinians who participated in the meeting work for organizations whose programming runs counter to the principles of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

That movement is based on a 2005 call endorsed by the vast majority of Palestinian civil society.

As the BDS steering committee’s website explains, the movement “opposes activities that create the false impression of symmetry between the colonizer and the colonized, that portray Israel as a ‘normal’ state like any other, or that hold Palestinians, the oppressed, and Israel, the oppressor, as both equally responsible for ‘the conflict.’”

It’s a principle diametrically opposed to the approach pushed by Mladenov and others who are paid to impose a paradigm that prioritizes a two-state solution over demanding respect for Palestinians’ human rights.

Call for justice

While Mladenov was discussing “the need for dialogue,” more than 80 Palestinian and international human rights groups made an urgent appeal to the UN over the extrajudicial killing of Ahmad Erakat at an Israeli military checkpoint last month.

The groups call for “international justice and accountability for Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy targeting Palestinians.”

Erakat was shot “in the absence of necessity and without posing a threat to life or serious injury,” the groups state.

“He was then left to bleed to death for an hour and a half, while the Israeli occupying forces denied him access to medical care.”

The Israeli military released footage purporting to show Erakat intentionally ramming the checkpoint with his car. Erakat, blurred in the footage, is shot as soon as he steps out of the vehicle.

Israel later released the footage without blurring after demands by Erakat’s family.

The unaltered video “clearly shows that [Erakat] was unarmed and that he was raising his hands in the air, posing no threat to fully armed Israeli soldiers or anyone else in the area,” the groups state in their intervention.

Meanwhile, the family of Iyad Hallaq, another Palestinian recently executed on a street by Israeli forces, rejects Israel’s claims that the security cameras in the area were not working at the time of the shooting.

The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz found that there are at least 10 security cameras in the vicinity of Jerusalem’s Old City where Hallaq, who had autistic traits, was chased by police and killed while on his way to a school for persons with disabilities.

“We have a very strong suspicion that [the police] are concealing evidence in this case,” the slain man’s attorney told the publication.

Hallaq’s parents said that their son often recorded his walks to and from school with his cell phone, which was returned to the family with its contents deleted, according to Haaretz.

Israel only releases the documentation of its violence when it thinks it serves its narrative, as in the case of the execution of Erakat. More typically, security cameras are confiscated and any footage recorded never sees the light of day.

Two of the handful of convictions of Israeli soldiers over the killing of a Palestinian have occurred when the execution was recorded on video and published by prominent organizations.

Challenge impunity

Even in those cases, soldiers received lenient sentences. Ben Dery, a Border Police officer, was sentenced to nine months in prison for the intentional killing of 17-year-old Nadim Siam Nuwara in 2014.

Israeli army medic Elor Azarya was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for shooting at the head of Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif as he lay injured and prone in a street in 2016.

More than 750 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since October 2015, the human rights groups state in their intervention to the UN.

They note that Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy is used against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line separating Israel from the territories it occupies.

“Israel’s pervasive impunity must be seen as part and parcel of its institutionalized regime of systematic racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people, which constitutes the crime of apartheid,” the groups add.

Apartheid in South Africa ended when perpetuating injustice came at too great a cost for the ruling class in that country to bear.

It did not end as a result of interminable “dialogue” and “peace-building” efforts.

Only when systems of violence and oppression are dismantled will peace be possible.

By calling for peace without demanding accountability, Mladenov makes it clear that the pacification of the Palestinians is really what he seeks.

Maureen Clare Murphy is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago