Tag Archives: Ban Ki Moon

Obama Using the UN to Bully Israel

The UN made me do it. That’s how Obama officials are explaining Secretary Kerry’s intense efforts to move Israel onto the front burner and shove over the bloody turmoil immediately affecting millions of Israel’s neighbors and the imminent catastrophe of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Speaking to reporters on July 30, 2013, senior officials said the administration was seeking “to avoid a train wreck” at the United Nations. “Throughout the course of this year Palestinians have been making clear that if they couldn’t see progress on the peace front, their intention would be to seek other elevations of their status… at the UN.” They explained a “new dynamic vis-à-vis the United Nations,” was driving the immediacy for renewed talks.

The comments mirror Secretary Kerry’s remarks in June: “the Palestinians have said that they will go to the UN and seek to join more UN organizations… And the Palestinians have also threatened to take their case to the International Criminal Court.”

Now Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has generously promised to delay those moves during the next nine months of talks.

The claim that the United Nations – and more specifically, the Arab stranglehold over its output – is genuinely intimidating the President of the United States ought to ring major alarm bells for anyone under the impression that elected American representatives set American foreign policy.

So how true is it?

The new faux peace negotiations between Israel and a Palestinian leader who doesn’t control the land or the people he purports to represent follow months of hysterical pressure from UN quarters.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on June 3, 2013 in Washington: “We are approaching a point of no return in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… This may well be the last chance for the two-State solution.” On June 18, 2013, Ban told a UN Palestinian committee meeting in Beijing: “I cannot stress enough the risk of missing the current window of opportunity.”

No doubt the UN’s goal has been to remove Arabs murdering other Arabs from the top spot on newswires around the world and replace it with stories about Jews constructing apartment buildings.

But the UN noise-making has been neatly dovetailing with the noises coming from Secretary Kerry, who told the Foreign Affairs Committee on April 17, 2013: “I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting… We have… a year, a year and a half to two years—or it’s over.” On June 3, 2013, he said: “We’re running out of time… [I]f we do not succeed now, we may not get another chance.” Events, he said, “could literally slam the door on a two-state solution.”

As Kerry worked over Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, periodic announcements issued forth from the UN Secretary-General, such as: “We all need to support Secretary of State Kerry’s courageous initiative.”

From a UN perspective, the drumbeating makes perfect sense. Settled (and fatuous) UN policy has long been that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” lies at the heart of the failure to deliver world peace. And the nub of that conflict, as Ban Ki-moon repeated in June, was “the occupation, now nearing half a century.” Even the nomenclature of the “Arab-Israeli conflict,” alluding in part to 65 years of Arab rejection of the Jewish state, has been quietly retired.

But what about the American perspective?

When the Palestinians threaten to use the United Nations to act unilaterally, that is a violation of their obligations under the UN’s own Security Council-endorsed Middle East Road Map which demands a negotiated settlement. The supposed Palestinian “gift” of not using the UN to orchestrate another end run around negotiations is really not giving anything at all. It is reneging on the outcome of prior negotiations.

Actually, those prior agreements were already broken by the Palestinians last year. In the fall of 2012 the Palestinians stage-managed a UN spectacle in which they renamed themselves “the state of Palestine” and acquired the status of UN “non-member observer state.” Instead of a major negative response from President Obama, however, they achieved just the opposite.

The administration has been doing its damnedest to get Congress to annul the negative financial fallout experienced merely by the UN agency UNESCO. On every other front, U.S. dollars have just kept flowing, and it is diplomatic business as usual. In fact, the ransom floated before Palestinians grew. In April, Kerry gushed about an economic strategy for Palestinians that would “involve the U.S. Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corp., and U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as American corporations.”

The Palestinians got the message: using the UN was a huge success. President Obama and Secretary Kerry were sufficiently cowed by the prospect of more unilateral UN undertakings that the only possible next step was to come down hard on Israel and force it to release convicted Palestinian murderers from Israeli prisons. A hundred are due to be set free in “exchange” for the Palestinians hitting the UN-pause button.

So let’s get this twisted tale straight. Palestinians have magnanimously agreed not to pursue unilateral UN actions – in direct contravention of their previous promises – and not to attempt to prosecute Israel at the “neutral” International Criminal Court (whose statute has a provision written specifically to target Israel). And the Obama administration pretends it is doing Israel a favor by bringing the Palestinians to the table because Washington’s hands are tied by the UN. That would be the same UN that is dependent on American taxpayer dollars for its next breath.

The reality looks more like this.

The UN and the Palestinians are doing exactly what the President of the United States and his Secretary of State want. Set aside crimes against humanity in Syria. Millions of Egyptians on the streets can wait. Iran’s next terror victims can forget about it.

Just like UN Israel-haters have always said, it turns out that this American administration also believes that Israel is the root cause of the world’s problems. Bludgeoning Israel is the UN’s – and President Obama’s – game.

Follow Anne Bayefsky on Twitter @AnneBayefsky.

How UNRWA Steals Money from Those Who Need It Most

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is threatening to end relief operations for Syrian refugees, who currently number 1.3 million and counting, if it doesn’t receive the necessary funds soon. The agency says it has received only a third of the $1 billion it needs through June, and only $400 million of the $1.5 billion donors pledged earlier this year. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned explicitly that absent more funds, UNHCR will have to stop distributing food to refugees in Lebanon next month. And Jordan, which has the largest population of Syrian refugees, is threatening to close its borders to new entrants unless more aid is forthcoming urgently.

Meanwhile, another UN agency enjoys comfortable funding of about $1 billion a year to help a very different group of refugees–refugees who generally live in permanent homes rather than flimsy tents in makeshift camps; who have never faced the trauma of flight and dislocation, having lived all their lives in the place where they were born; who often have jobs that provide an income on top of their refugee benefits; and who enjoy regular access to schooling, healthcare and all the other benefits of non-refugee life. In short, these “refugees” are infinitely better off than their Syrian brethren–yet their generous funding continues undisturbed even as Syrian refugees are facing the imminent loss of such basics as food and fresh water. I am talking, of course, about UNRWA.

It has long been clear that UNRWA–which deals solely with Palestinian refugees, while UNHCR bears responsibility for all other refugees on the planet–is a major obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Since, unlike UNHCR, it grants refugee status to the original refugees’ descendants in perpetuity, the number of Palestinian refugees has ballooned from under 700,000 in 1949 to over five million today, even as the world’s non-Palestinian refugee population has shrunk from over 100 million to under 30 million. Moreover, while UNHCR’s primary goal is to resettle refugees, UNRWA hasn’t resettled a single refugee in its history: By its definition, refugees remain refugees even after acquiring citizenship in another country. It has thereby perpetuated and exacerbated the Palestinian refugee problem to the point where it has become the single greatest obstacle to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement: Israel cannot absorb five million Palestinian refugees (though it could easily absorb the fewer than 50,000 original refugees who still remain alive), yet under UNRWA’s rules, refugee status can’t be ended except by resettlement in Israel.

But an even more basic reason for abolishing UNRWA is the harm it does to the world’s most vulnerable people–real refugees like the Syrians. Were the Palestinians handled by UNHCR like all other refugees are, UNHCR would have the budgetary flexibility to temporarily divert aid from the Palestinians, who need it far less, to people who need it more, like the Syrians today. Instead, it is forced to watch helplessly as Syrian refugees go roofless and hungry while $1 billion in aid is squandered on Palestinians with homes, jobs, and all the comforts of settled life.

Thus, anyone who claims to have a shred of genuine humanitarian concern ought to be agitating for UNRWA’s abolition and the Palestinians’ transfer to UNHCR’s auspices. Unfortunately for the Syrians, it seems that many of the world’s self-proclaimed humanitarians prefer harming Israel to helping those who need it most.by

@UN:The UNGA Year-End Message To Israel

By /United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon devoted part of his year-end press conference on December 19th to bashing Israel for its announcement of plans to build new housing in and around Jerusalem. He claimed that the Israeli announcement was a “near fatal blow to a very fragile Middle East peace process.”

“I am deeply concerned by heightened settlement activity in the West Bank, in particular around Jerusalem,” the Secretary General complained.  “This gravely threatens efforts to establish a viable Palestinian state.”

A Palestinian reporter asked the Secretary General whether he would support Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court and pursue criminal charges against Israel to stop settlement activities. While not answering the question directly, he said that Israel’s settlement activity was “clearly a violation of international law” and that “with the enhanced status of the Palestinian Authority in the General Assembly [with] non-member observer status, I think they have the right to sign the Rome Statute, but it is up to the Palestinian authorities.”

Adding insult to injury, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that Israel should risk its own security by opening its borders to more than 100,000 Palestinians fleeing a refugee camp in Syria that had come under attack, so that they can safely reach the West Bank and Gaza by transiting Israel.

On the same day that Ban Ki-moon was putting Israel through the wringer, France led a chorus of members of the UN Security Council also condemning Israel for building more housing for its residents in Jerusalem.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor countered, in remarks to the press after the Security Council met to discuss the Israeli housing announcement among other issues, that the real obstacles to peace remain “the Palestinians quest for the so-called ‘claim of return’, terrorism, and Palestinian incitement.”

There is no credible Palestinian leadership willing and able to stop jihadist terrorism against Israeli civilians. There is no credible Palestinian leadership willing and able to end the extreme anti-Semitic indoctrination so pervasive in Palestinian society, which nurtures a culture of hatred and incitement to violence.  The so-called “moderate” Palestinian leadership under Palestinian Authority President Abbas – feckless at best, malevolent at worst – is the real reason that the peace process is in a deep freeze. Israeli housing construction is nothing more than a convenient excuse for the international community to use in irresponsibly transferring the blame to Israel.

Indeed, Ambassador Prosor might have added the United Nations itself to his list of real obstacles to peace. Last month’s General Assembly resolution created the illusion of Palestinian statehood by upgrading their status at the UN to an observer state, with borders based on the lines in effect before Israel’s victory in the June 1967 Six Days War.  On Dec. 17th, the UN’s head of official protocol wrote to the Palestinian delegation informing them that as a result of the General Assembly’s vote “the designation of ‘State of Palestine’ shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents.”

The General Assembly became a tool in the Palestinians’ hands to “legislate” their claim to state recognition within the borders that the Palestinians unilaterally defined, in direct violation of the Oslo Accords signed by Israeli and the Palestinian representatives. The Oslo Accords had called for direct “permanent status” negotiations between the parties on the issues of “Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and other issues of common interest.”  Using the UN to decide these issues by fiat is anything but direct negotiations.

The Oslo Accords were intended to help implement the objectives of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which called for the peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict through territorial compromise. The framers of these Security Council resolutions realized that the pre- June1967 borders were indefensible.

Under the Oslo Accords, both borders and settlements were identified as negotiable issues.  Jerusalem was referred to as one whole city – not artificially divided into eastern and western parts that would become the capitals of two separate states.

When the General Assembly adopted the Palestinian observer state upgrade resolution, it put its weight clearly on the side of the Palestinians’ unilateral position on the borders issue.  It also endorsed the Palestinians’ claim to “East Jerusalem,” which in reality is nothing more than a geographical designation of the portion of the city of Jerusalem that Jordan illegally seized and annexed as a result of its illegal war aimed at destroying the new state of Israel in 1948. It is a complete distortion of international law to claim that the Palestinians are rightful heirs to the old portion of Jerusalem with its holy sites, which Jordan illegally seized in the first place and then proceeded to desecrate.

Israel responded legitimately to the General Assembly’s interference in the direct negotiations process by affirming its inherent right to expand housing within existing Jewish residential communities in Jerusalem and to begin longer term planning for possible residential development in an area contiguous with Jerusalem. There is no basis under international law to support the claim that Jews cannot live wherever they choose in and around Jerusalem and build the housing they need in order to do so.  Yet the international community was outraged, as evidenced in the condemnations on December 19th by the UN Secretary General and all members of the Security Council except the United States.

Meanwhile, the critics of building more housing for Israeli residents in their own city look the other way as Hamas threatens Israel with extinction while re-arming and Hezbollah has amassed at least 50,000 deadly missiles in Lebanon with likely access to Syria’s chemical and germ weapons of mass destruction.

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