UN ‘peace’ envoy lays bare his anti-Palestinian bias

Tor Wennesland (UN)

Ali Abunimah

The Electronic Intifada  /  November 29, 2022

 “After decades of persistent violence, illegal settlement expansion, dormant negotiations and deepening occupation, the conflict is again reaching a boiling point,” UN peace process envoy Tor Wennesland told the Security Council in New York on Monday.

Meanwhile, Monday night and into Tuesday, Israeli occupation forces killed five more Palestinians, including two brothers who were university students.

I told Turkey’s TRT World television that the Norwegian diplomat’s update was a masterful display of fake even-handedness, equating the aggressor with the victim.

You can watch the interview here:

UN “peace” envoy lays bare his anti-Palestinian bias | The Electronic Intifada

Just take a look at the dry language Wennesland uses, which falsely suggests that both Israelis and Palestinians are building colonial settlements on occupied land, demolishing homes, forcibly displacing people and violating the sanctity of holy sites:

“First, we must continue to engage with the parties to reduce tensions and counter negative trends, particularly those impacting final status issues. This will involve reining in violence and incitement and holding perpetrators accountable. This means that both sides stop unilateral steps that undermine peace, including settlement expansion or legalization, demolitions and displacement. This means upholding the status quo at the Holy Sites, in accordance with the special and historic role of Jordan.”

Every phrase is carefully constructed to avoid pointing out that Israel, the occupying power, is the party committing the crimes listed.

Wennesland only explicitly condemned violence once: a bomb attack by unknown persons at a bus stop in Jerusalem last week that killed an Israeli-Canadian child, the first Jewish child to be killed in conflict-related violence this year.

“Such acts of terrorism must be clearly rejected and condemned by all,” Wennesland asserted while remaining completely silent about the 51 Palestinian children killed this year, including more than 30 children shot and killed by Israeli occupation forces and settlers in the West Bank.

Delusional

With such one-sided statements, Wennesland continued his long-standing role of providing cover for Israel’s crimes while perpetuating the fiction of a “peace process” that will someday, over the rainbow, result in a “two-state solution.”

I told TRT World that this was the kind of delusional slogan that members of the so-called international community such as Wennesland like to use to avoid assigning accountability for the situation.

Wennesland was clearly biased in the way that he treats Israel and the Palestinians as if they were equally responsible for the situation, refusing to name Israel as the perpetrator of occupation, colonialism and apartheid.

His focus on achieving “calm” and sending a few more economic crumbs towards Palestinians to alleviate the impact of Israel’s crimes amounts in effect to ensuring that Israel can continue to steal and colonize Palestinian land unperturbed by resistance.

Nowhere, as I told TRT World, did Wennesland call specifically for Israel and its civilian and military leaders to be held accountable for their crimes, nor for sanctions to be imposed.

Neither did the diplomat appeal to countries around the world to support the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to resist military occupation, or to support the Palestinian boycott campaign.

“So many in the West now think that everyone should be boycotting Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, but they call you an anti-Semite and a Jew-hater if you say that Israel, an apartheid regime, should be boycotted for its daily crimes against the Palestinian people,” I told TRT World.

I noted the racism in Wennesland’s claim that the situation is “reaching a boiling point” as if it is not always at boiling point for Palestinians living in the cauldron of Israeli military occupation.

Brothers killed in Israeli attack

Indeed, just hours after the UN envoy finished speaking in New York, Israeli occupation forces killed five more Palestinian civilians, including two brothers, and injured six more, among them two children in the occupied West Bank.

Early on Tuesday – the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People – Israeli occupation forces invaded the village Kufr Ein, near Ramallah, firing tear gas and stun grenades between homes, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Palestinian youths in the village exercised their right to self-defense and resistance by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the invading military vehicles.

“Around half an hour later, one of the Palestinian young men tried to throw a Molotov cocktail at the military vehicles, but the Molotov burnt his back, so he tried to escape taking only few steps,” according to PCHR.

Israeli soldiers then fired several bullets at him from a distance of 15 meters and fired several more at another person who came to assist the wounded man, injuring him as well.

The two wounded men were taken to hospitals but doctors were unable to save them. They have been identified as brothers, Jawad Abd al-Rahman al-Rimawi, 22, and Thafer Abd al-Jawad al-Rimawi, 20.

Birzeit University, where the brothers were students, said they were “murdered by the Israeli occupation.”

The university suspended classes so that students could attend their funeral, which was held on campus.

Lethal raid in Beit Ummar

Just after 10 pm on Monday night, occupation forces raided the village of Beit Ummar, near Hebron. Dozens of young men resisted the invaders with stones and Molotov cocktails, according to PCHR.

Moments later, about 20 more Israeli military vehicles and a bulldozer arrived in the al-Ein and Abu Hashem neighborhoods, where Israeli occupation forces deployed on foot patrols.

“They randomly opened fire at the stone-throwers, wounding six persons, including two children,” PCHR reported, adding that one child was in serious condition.

About an hour later, Israeli soldiers opened fire at Mufid Muhammad Ikhleil from a distance of about 70 meters as he stood near a shop, according to PCHR.

The 44-year-old was hit in the back of the head with a live bullet. Doctors at a local hospital tried in vain to save his life.

Ikhleil’s picture was shared by local media:

And news came that another Palestinian youth was fatally shot by occupation forces in in al-Mughayyir village near Ramallah on Tuesday evening.

Raed al-Naasan was reportedly fatally shot in the chest.

Soldier injured, Palestinian killed in alleged car ramming

Also on Tuesday, Israel said that a female soldier was seriously wounded in a car ramming attack near Migron, a colonial settlement in the occupied West Bank, north of Jerusalem.

According to The Times of Israel, surveillance camera footage “showed a black crossover SUV making a turn after spotting the soldier walking from a parking lot to a sidewalk.”

“The vehicle rammed into the woman on the sidewalk, before driving over a small garden area, and onto a highway, fleeing the scene,” the newspaper claimed.

It added that the Israeli army “said the incident was a ramming attack, and asked for the footage of the ramming itself not to be published.”

“The attacker was shot by officers after a brief chase, police said. He was also taken to Shaare Zedek, where medical officials declared him dead,” The Times of Israel added.

Israeli public broadcaster Kann named him as 45-year-old Rani Mamoun Fayez Abu Ali, a father of five from the town of Beitunia who had a valid permit to work in a settlement.

Video shared by Kann shows an officer trying to break into a black SUV that has crashed into a roadside barrier, said to be the car of the attacker. It is unclear whether the driver had already been killed.

There are no bullet holes readily apparent in the video on the driver’s side of the vehicle, although a photo published by the newspaper Haaretz shows the car with what appear to be several bullet holes in the front windscreen as Israeli personnel search it.

Israeli police put out a tweet stating that its officers “neutralized a car ramming terrorist attack against an Israeli soldier. The police officers identified the vehicle driving dangerously, began pursuing it, set up roadblocks and successfully neutralized the terrorist.”

In a video attached to the tweet, one of the officers involved in the chase states that “at the end of the chase we stopped the car by shooting.”

These sources are vague about when Abu Ali was killed, with no indication of whether it was during the chase or after his car was stopped.

Israel’s police chief Kobi Shabtai nonetheless praised officers for killing Abu Ali.

Shabtai lauded officers for their “great work” and said they “acted as expected of Israeli police officers.”

“A dead terrorist is what I want to see,” Shabtai added.

Regardless of the circumstances in this case, Shabtai’s statement indicates that killing, not apprehending, an alleged attacker, is the goal, and this may be yet another clear encouragement from a senior officer to lower-ranking officers to carry out field executions.

That will please Shabtai’s incoming boss Itamar Ben-Gvir. The Kahanist extremist, who has been named “national security” minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s next government, has called for summary executions of Palestinians in the streets.

Ben-Gvir praised the Israeli police for what he called “the quick elimination of the abominable terrorist.”

This year’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People has turned out much like any other: a day for empty statements from international officials, while Israel kills Palestinians with impunity.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Haymarket Books)