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Opinion: The UN Mirrors Israel’s Violence Against the Palestinian People

The UN has benefited from its refusal to politicise human rights for the oppressed. Hence it has created a humanitarian paradigm from which it unsuccessfully attempts to address human rights violations.

The UN has benefited from its refusal to politicise human rights for the oppressed. Hence it has created a humanitarian paradigm from which it unsuccessfully attempts to address human rights violations.

It is pathetic to see how, on International Human Rights Day, the UN is temporarily reminded of the mandate it fails to acknowledge for the rest of the year. 

The human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories “has become disastrous,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet declared. Has become? It has been disastrous since the Balfour Declaration paved the way for the 1947 Partition Plan. 

Even if Bachelet is to be credited with this annual enlightenment, the context she gives to the human rights situation is made relevant to the coloniser, and not its colonised victims.

“This clearly also has a damaging impact on prospects for peace and sustainable development for Israel, as well as the surrounding region,” Bachelet asserted at a meeting of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. 

Ending the occupation, she said, “can bring about lasting peace and establish the conditions in which the human rights of all can be fully respected.” 

Not so fast. Ending Israel’s military occupation leaves colonialism in place, which is exactly what the two-state diplomacy intends.

The UN knows that as long as Israel’s foundations remain unchanged, and decolonisation is not brought forward as the path through which Palestinians can assert their political rights, there is no chance of the status quo altering.

Israel keeps the UN in business through its colonial violence, and the UN can continue masquerading as the guardian of human rights for the entire world.

Against such a backdrop, no matter how much Bachelet points out, as she did, the impact of Israel’s human rights violations on Gaza, Palestinian rights are not a priority as they should be. 

The UN has persistently juxtaposed Palestinian rights against Israeli demands, making the latter a priority. With such a paradigm, and given that Israel’s demands are steeped in international law violations, how does the UN think that any recommendations it makes will be adhered to?

Without holding Israel accountable, and that will not happen until the UN holds itself accountable for supporting colonialism against international law, Palestinians will continue to suffer human rights violations because there are no rights within a violent colonial context.

If Bachelet can speak of peace and sustainable development problems for Israel should the current situation continue, in front of a committee that supposedly deals with the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, what concept of human rights is she postulating?

If Israel is prioritised, then the UN is simply demanding further acquiescence from the Palestinian people – what the Palestinian Authority has squandered in return for illusory state-building is still not enough. 

Palestinian suffering is not an International Human Rights Day topic. It is a reality which Palestinians face daily because the UN has failed to address the historical wrongs inflicted upon the people. Ending the blockade on Gaza is necessary, as is freedom of movement anywhere in the occupied Palestinian territories.

But the UN’s focus on single violations detracts from the fact that Israel’s actions are not merely human rights violations but premeditated actions which constitute colonial violence. 

The UN has benefited from its refusal to politicise human rights for the oppressed. Hence it has created a humanitarian paradigm from which it unsuccessfully attempts to address human rights violations.

Just as Israel seeks deprivation for Palestinians as opposed to blatant annihilation, the UN’s remedies for human rights are mere maintenance in terms of allowing Palestinians to survive, without their political rights.

Bachelet’s observations would have been more accurate had she pinpointed how the UN mirrors Israel in its actions, while holding the Palestinian people hostage to its twisted concept of human rights. 

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