Monday 10 December 2012

Palestinians  should  have  Observer  State  status  at  the  UN

The white background behind some of the text is merely an anomaly in the printing.

I will describe to you what is meant by Observer status at the UN. An Observer at the UN has the right to sit and speak in the assembly halls of any of the UN Congresses heard around the world and also at the General Assembly in New York. The Palestinians under the leadership of Mr. Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank of Israel are now recognized by the United Nations as an Observer State and as such, they have the right to address any UN Congress and the General Assembly as any UN recognized Observer to the UN but they cannot vote or present a resolution. Only the delegates representing their countries can do this. However, an UN recognized Observer can have enormous clout if his or her speech is persuasive enough.

Up until 1995, all experts (as they are now classed by the UN) such as police chiefs, wardens of prisons, heads of probation and parole departments, judges, prosecutors, law professors, criminologists like myself and others were called UN Observers. From 1995 we were then classed as experts. As I said earlier, we can’t vote or present resolutions but we do have the right to speak just as the delegates and the representatives from the non-governmental organizations such as the International Red Cross, the Vatican, Amnesty International etc., and if our speech is persuasive enough, we can accomplish a great deal at the UN.

In 1975, while I was at the UN Headquarters in Geneva as a recognized UN Observer, I spoke against the UN’s proposal for a United Nations International Tribunal for Terrorists even though the majority of the delegates approved of the concept. I described in detail the enormous jurisdictional problems that the Tribunal would have. The following day, the majority of the delegates voted against the concept.

In 1980, I spoke about the need for a bill of rights for young offenders at a UN Congress held in Caracas. The American delegation was so impressed with my speech, the next morning they brought in a resolution ordering the Secretariat of the UN to conduct meetings world-wide dealing with the creation of the bill of rights.  Five years alter after my proposal was drafted up, the General Assembly passed the bill of rights which has an effect on the wellbeing of millions of young offenders world-wide. It later was used as a template for the UN bill of rights for children.

During that same Congress, I was the last person to address the Congress and I spoke about the need to continue executing murderers so that governments will work harder to find an alternative way to deal with them such as sentencing them to natural life in prison. The nine countries that asked for a moratorium on capital punishment withdrew their resolution the next day and a number of American States abolished capital punishment and replaced it with sentences of life in prison without parole.

These are just three of the topics I spoke of that had an impact on the thinking of the delegates. When I was giving those speeches, I was a UN non-voting Observer just as the Palestinians are now going to be except the Palestinians in the West Bank are now recognized as a non-voting Observer State.  

When I was at the UN Headquarters in Geneva in 1975, I had negotiations with Feisal Ouida at the Fifth UN Congress on the Treatment of Offenders and the Prevention of Crime. He was the official UN recognized Observer entity to the UN for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. I got a commitment from the PLO from my talks with Ouida that the PLO would not sanction any further violence at Olympic Games in the future beginning in 1976 in Montreal. They kept their word.

On November 30th, 2012, the UN General Assembly voted by a vast majority in favour of the Palestinians in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Gaza having Observer status as a non-voting Palestinian Observer State. The United States, Canada, Israel and six other nations voted against the resolution.

John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Minister even hinted that he would order the Palestinian’s envoys in Ottawa out of Canada. That would be a terrible thing to do.

In 1975, during my negotiations with the PLO Observer to the UN, I told him that if the PLO kept its word to not sanction violence in the Olympic Games (in which it did keep its word) they could have an office in Ottawa in three-years time. Ever since 1978, they have had an office in Ottawa. Just before the first Gulf War in Iraq, Arafat who was the chairman of the PLO successfully negotiated with Saddam, the dictator of Iraq on behalf of Canada, for the release of Canadian hostages. To now throw the Palestinian Authority envoy out of Canada is an insult to what they previously had done for Canada however that threat is now academic. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that John Baird has retracted his threat. Canada will not hold up Canadian funding that Canada has been regularly giving the Palestinians.

Canadian authorities don’t dispute the Palestinian’s right to have a state of their own which comprises of the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Gaza that are within the old boundaries of Israel.  In fact during the debates in 1947 at the UN general assembly, Canada’s envoy voted in favour for the Palestinians to have a state of their own. During the voting in 1947, as many as 33 of the 56 nations present in the UN voted in favour of that resolution while only 13 of the 56 nations voted against the resolution.

The Israelis are punishing the Palestinians by putting a hold on the $100 million dollars in tax money that belongs to them because they applied to the UN for the status they finally obtained. This means that the Palestinian Authority can’t pay the salaries and wages of the people that are making the new state function.

The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a plan for the future government of Palestine which is now called Israel (for the Jews) and the West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza (for the Palestinians). The new states would come into existence two months after the withdrawal of the British but no later than the 1st of October 1948. The Plan also called for economic union between the proposed states, and for the protection of religious and minority rights.

The Plan was accepted by the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine, through the Jewish Agency. The Plan was rejected by leaders of the Arab community, including the Palestinian  Arab Higher Committee, who were supported in their rejection by the states of the Arab League. The Arab leadership (in and out of Palestine) opposed partition and claimed all of Palestine for themselves. That was a very big mistake. However, I can appreciate their views at that time. Prior to the end of the Second World War, the Palestinians had occupied Palestine (now called Israel) for centuries and resented the intrusion of Jews into what was then called Palestine. They didn’t even like the British occupying their country in what they believed was their own.

The Arabs argued that it violated the rights of the majority of the people in Palestine, which at the time was 65% non-Jewish (1,200,000), and 35% Jewish (650,000), most of who were of European origin who had immigrated in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries as a result of the Zionist movement.

Immediately after adoption of the Resolution by the General Assembly, the war between the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine broke out.  The vast majority of the Palestinians were kicked out of Palestine and all of what was called Palestine then became known as Israel. As a direct result of that war, the Partition Plan was not implemented. Over the following years, many Palestinians slowly slipped back into Israel and finally they gave the Palestinians the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza in Israel to live in as per the agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians with respect to the Oslo Accord of 1993. The Palestinian Authority later lost Gaza to the Hamas. In 2011, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas admitted that the Arab rejection of the Partition Plan was a mistake he hoped to rectify which he finally did in November 2012 resulting in the Palestinians in the West Bank and Golan Heights being given the status as an Observer State in the UN.

It is rather ironic when you consider that up until the Oslo Accord, the Israelis weren’t willing to give an inch to the Palestinians. In September 1975 when I was at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, the PLO Observer to the UN asked me to speak to the head of the Israelis delegation about the prospects of permitting the Palestinians to return to Israel and become citizens of Israel. The Israelis delegate told me that Israel had no intentions of ever permitting the Palestinians to become citizens of Israel. That foolish decision made then years later eventually resulted in the Palestinians having their own state within the boundaries of what was then all of Israel. A large chunk of Israel was lost to the Palestinians because of that blunder. If Israel had accepted the Palestinians as citizens and gave them the same rights as other Israelis citizens, then they would have far more taxpayers than they have now and Israel and the Palestinians would jointly share all of the land bordering Lebanon to the north, Syria and Jordon to the east and Egypt to the south west.   

At the time of this writing, the people in the land occupied by the Palestinians in the Golan Heights and the West Bank are not yet recognized as a nation. There are more meetings to be conducted between the Israelis and the Palestinians before that will come about. It could take years before the Arabs and the Jews eventually come to a final agreement.

There is a serious issue that has to be dealt with first. That is the matter of the continuous intrusion of the Israelis settlements being built by the Israelis outside of land assigned to them in accordance with the Oslo Accord.

In November 30th 2012, A senior Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that a decision was made the day before to move forward on preliminary zoning and planning preparations for housing units for Jews in E1, which would connect the large Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem and therefore making it impossible to connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem to Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Israelis authorities also authorized the construction of 3,000 housing units in other parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. By advancing this project that has long been condemned by international leaders, the Israelis are dooming any prospect of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The timing of the twin actions seemed aimed at punishing the Palestinians for their U.N. bid for UN Observer State status. This kind of behavior on the part of the Israelis authorities is childish and rubs against the Palestinians like a coarse rasp.

Much of the world considers the ongoing building of settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank to be illegal under international law, and the United States has vigorously opposed development of E-1 for nearly two decades. Despite the protestations, the Israelis have simply ignored them and continue to build the settlements. By having Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, they are able to increase the area of their security forces beyond their own boundaries. One is forced to ask this rhetorical question. “Will the Israelis build their settlements right across all of the land of the West Bank?”

The Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war says that the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies. Admittedly, the Israelis and the Palestinians are not at war but the Israelis definitely are an occupying power.

The actions of the Israelis remind me of Aesop’s tale of the dog and its bone. The creature was standing on a small bridge that crossed over a clear pond below. It saw its reflection and thinking that it was another dog with a bone in its mouth, it opened its mouth to grab the other bone and the bone in its mouth dropped into the pond. It left the bridge with nothing in its mouth. If the Israelis are forced to leave the areas where they built the settlements, they will have left the area with nothing to show for their efforts. That is what happens to fools who grab more than they should. The Israelis are exacerbating tensions between themselves and the Palestinians. If they are doing this to force the Palestinians to move from the Palestinian Territory, they will fail and in the process of failing, they will come across as thugs trying to take over a neighbourhood that doesn’t belong to them. 

There is also the problem of Gaza. Palestinians live there also but they are not under the authority of the Palestinian Authority. The Israelis are no longer building Jewish settlements in Gaza. When they realized that they had to remove the Israelis that were living in those settlements, the Israelis army went in and destroyed all the homes so that the Palestinians in Gaza couldn’t move into them. I am convinced that when the Jews in the settlements in the West Bank and immediately east of Jerusalem are finally ordered to move out and return to Israel, the Israelis army will go in and destroy all those thousands of homes so that the Palestinians can’t move into them. That to will also be absolutely stupid.   

When the Jews were being massacred during the Second World War by the Nazis, every decent person was extremely sympathetic to their plight. But what they are doing to the Palestinians nowadays is no different than what the Nazis did to other counties in Europe by taking over their land. By doing this, the actions of the Israelis are shameful.

Now it is easy to see why the Israelis fought so hard to thwart the Palestinians effort to be recognized as an Observer State in the UN.  Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court say they will study what the Palestinian Authority's upgraded status means for its relationship with the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.  That is because any country that seizes land of another that doesn’t belong to them is considered as a war crime.

I will keep you abreast as soon as I learn what the War Crimes Tribunal’s decision is.

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