PLENARY III. The UN Security Council as a major obstacle to the two-state solution. Paper presented by

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1 PLENARY III The UN Security Council as a major obstacle to the two-state solution Paper presented by Mr Nick Ferriman Vice chairperson of the Palestine Solidarity (PSC) Thailand Lecturer in the Humanities and Languages Division of Mahidol University International College (MUIC), Bangkok Good afternoon everyone. I appreciate that many of you in the audience, as well as my co-panelists, have honorific titles reflecting your day-time roles. But we are first and foremost citizens - 24 hours a day - and it is as fellow citizens that I address you. We are here today because the rights and privileges we enjoy as citizens are not universally extended. This is a situation many of us most ardently want to change. Before I begin my speech, let me say that it is an honour and a privilege for our organization, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Thailand, to be invited to speak at the UN in support of the Palestinians, on behalf of civil society. At PSC Thailand, we are delighted that an issue so close to our hearts is to be discussed here in public, at the UN in Bangkok. Unfortunately, many of our supporters, and others, have come to view the UN, and the states system generally, as an obstacle to peace in the Middle East, and more specifically to an equitable solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, when criticizing the UN, I believe we need to differentiate between its topdown and the bottom-up components. Those UN departments such as UNDP, UNHCR, and WHO, to name but a few, who bring relief to the pain and suffering of hundreds of millions of our fellow global citizens, are examples of this bottom-up component. They do incredible work and have the full support of global civil society. The same cannot be said of the UN Security Council whose top-down exercise of power is for the benefit of a few, at the expense of the many. When I criticise the UN, as I do in this paper, it is to the Security Council I refer, and not to those UN departments I have mentioned who so admirably promote global well-being. 1. Defining my terms Let me begin the first part of my paper by defining terms I used when I said in my opening remarks, in support of the Palestinians, on behalf of civil society. By support of the Palestinians, I mean unconditional support. We at PSC Thailand give our support to the Palestinians without any prior terms or conditions. This

2 support recognizes that only the Palestinians can determine the nature and conduct of their struggle for freedom and justice. By the Palestinians I mean the 1.5 million locked up in Gaza, the three million confined to their homes and villages in the West Bank, the five million rotting in the refugee camps scattered across the Middle East, and the millions of the Palestinian Diaspora dispersed to all four corners of our planet. All of these are victims of the violent ethnic cleansing of their homeland by the Zionists in a crime that remains unanswered for. By civil society we mean global civil society. In our view at PSC Thailand, globalization is first and foremost a social phenomenon driven by technology and not an economic one. The fraud, incompetence, and greed we see so vividly on display in the international financial markets is a direct consequence of putting naked selfinterest before the common good. And like John Locke, and other scholars, we believe that only civil society invests institutions with authority. Therefore, any institution, national or otherwise, including the UN, which acts without our consent does so illegally. And in our view, the Palestinian struggle is at the heart of a world-wide struggle to determine how our global community is to be constituted. Will it reflect the greed and ambition of the 1 percent, or the values and principles of the 99? 2. Growing awareness of an injustice My concern for the Palestinians began during the Second Intifada, when in early 2001 I realized the Israelis were operating a shoot-to-kill policy of Palestinian teenage stone throwers. It took a while longer before I realized that my own country, the UK, as well as the US, was intimately implicated in the brutal realities of the Occupation. From this initial realization has grown the awareness that the UK and the US provide significant moral, legal, and material support for the commission of Israeli war crimes. I believe one of the reasons for doing so is that what the Israelis do to the Palestinians mirrors what the Anglo-Americans have done to other indigenous peoples elsewhere, for decades if not centuries. Very simply, the US and the UK are in no hurry to put in the dock an ally who is guilty of the same crimes they have committed. In the next part of my paper, I will look at two historical events that shed light on, first, how the Anglo-American Alliance exerts control over world affairs, and second, the closeness of the relationship that exists between the US, the UK, and Israel. Both these events concern the UN, and both events have had a huge negative impact on the universal rights of the Palestinians, to the benefit of the Israelis. 3. Formation of the UN The first of these historical events was the formation of the UN itself in The Anglo-Americans exert huge control over world affairs, and they do this primarily

3 through their political control of the UN. Unfortunately, through this control they exert a malign influence on world affairs, not a positive one. By malign, I mean they do not promote the common good. Instead, they deliberately and knowingly promote their own national self-interest at the expense of global well-being. If we want to understand how the Anglo-Americans achieved this political control, we need to go back to the first UN Conference held in San Francisco from April-June of It was here that it was decided how the UN would be run and organized. It was here that the Anglo-Americans, having planned and plotted for it a year earlier at Dumbarton Oaks, launched a three-pronged assault for control. Their first target was to make sure that they took control of the executive - the executive of global government - and they achieved this by the simple expedient of awarding themselves veto powers in the UN Security Council. Their next target was control of the legislative branch of global government. They achieved this by having a number of key articles written into the UN Charter. Article 103, for example, asserts the supremacy of the UN Charter over all other international treaties and documents. Therefore, any state joining the UN signs away all legal and diplomatic rights it has accrued prior to signing, and acknowledges instead the supremacy of the UN Charter. This gives the Security Council huge scope to amend, adjust, and make international law. Having seized control of two branches of global government, how about the third, did the judicial branch of government escape their predations? No. First of all, the International Court of Justice can only convene at the request of the Security Council. Second, of the 15 judges appointed, five come from the each of the veto powers, the remaining 10 judges are distributed amongst the other UN member states, but they can only be appointed on approval by the Security Council. The Security Council has a firm grip on the judiciary as well. In effect, we have no separation of powers in the body that runs most of our global affairs. It shouldn t come as a surprise that the UN is not a democratic organization; we need separation of powers to have that. The UN was never set up by the Anglo-Americans to be a democratic organisation. It is a club of powerful states, lead by the US, which is concerned not with global justice but with promoting the interests of the veto powers. Do not take my word for it that the UN is autocratic. Harvard international lawyer Roger Normand and his coauthor Sarah Zeidi, in their book on the UN, describe the UN as a breathtaking dictatorship [my italics] that enshrined their status as global enforcers (2008, p148). The Anglo-Americans use their control to deflect any criticism of Israel at the UN, thereby placing Israel above the law. The only force left to balance this abuse, and keep Israel from committing even greater crimes, is global public opinion. 4. The Naqba

4 The second of the two historical events is the Naqba, the ethnic cleaning of Historic Palestine by the Zionists. A return to the crime scene will give us some insight into the incestuous relationship that exists between these three states: the US, UK, and Israel, and why they do not support a two-state solution. To understand the Naqba, we can start at the signing of the UN Partition Plan on 29 November There was nothing fair, nor just, nor democratic about this plan. The UN, under significant arm-twisting by the Americans, allocated 56% of historic Palestine, not to the Palestinians, the indigenous people, but to recently arrived immigrants from Europe, the Jews, who in 1947 made up only 30% of the population and only owned 6% of the land. This was an appalling decision. In its very first act, in its very first appearance on the world stage, the UN violated its own constitution. It violated Article 1 of the UN Charter, the right to self-determination, and in the violence that broke out over the next three months nearly 2,000 people were killed. But the Partition Plan was not the trigger for the Naqba. That honour, if we can call it that, must go to the Americans. On 19 March 1948, the US Ambassador to the UN, Warren Austin, convened a meeting of the Security Council to announce that the US could no longer abide by its own Partition Plan. I say its own Partition Plan because the US had strong-armed it through the UN back in November. It had for example forced most of the countries of South America to vote for the Plan, when in fact most of them, ardent supporters of self-determination, would have voted on the side of the Palestinians if they had been given a free vote. They weren t. What had happened? What had happened between November 1947 and March 1948 for the Americans to change their minds, after having expended so much political capital in passing the Partition Plan in the first place? Alfred Lilienthal, an American Jew, describes in great detail in his book What price Israel?, published in 1950, the amount of pressure brought to bear on the Truman Administration by the pro-zionist lobby in the US. They were not happy with 56% of the land being handed over to 30% of the population under the Partition Plan. They wanted all of it. By its u-turn signaled by Ambassador Austin, the Truman Administration was in effect now saying to the world that the US could no longer support a two-state solution. The message the Zionists heard was, we the US Administration are no longer interested in Palestine, in effect signaling to the Zionists that they had two months to grab as much of Palestine as they could before the British left, because the British were not going to do anything to stop them. Only the intervention of the Arab armies after the British had left was going to prevent a clean sweep of Historic Palestine by the new colonial settler state of Israel. Austin s comments were therefore the green light the Zionists had been waiting for to implement Plan Dalit, Plan D, the ethnic cleaning of Palestine. In the 6-8 weeks that followed, over 300,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes in fear of their lives, mugged, mauled, and murdered by Zionist thugs. What I find disturbing was not just the catastrophe itself, but the role my own government played in all of this, the British Government. The first question we might

5 be tempted to ask is, Didn t the British fail in their mandate to protect? Yes, clearly they did. But I think that is the wrong question. The question should be, Did the British, as a consequence of the Naqba, achieve their long-term strategic objectives? If you ask that question, the answer is a resounding yes. If you read academics like Howard Sachar and his book A History of Israel: from the rise of Zionism to our time (1979), or Ilan Pappe and his A History of modern Palestine: one land, two peoples (2006), or the archival evidence that has been unearthed by Victor Kattan, a scholar from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, it becomes very clear that the result was one the British had engineered and manufactured over thirty years. They wanted to see a Zionist state emerge on the West Bank of the River Jordan, and an Arab Hashemite kingdom emerge on the East Bank. And that is exactly what they got. They never envisaged, never wanted to see, an independent Palestinian state emerge from the ashes of the Mandate. In effect, both the US and the UK blocked a two-state solution in 1948, and nothing I have seen or heard since suggests that they have fundamentally changed their position. Their job is to provide the material, legal, and moral protection that I have mentioned, whilst Israel goes about its silent ethnic cleansing of all of Palestine. As the Israeli historian Benny Morris might put it, their goal is to allow Israel a free hand to complete the unfinished business of 1948, that is to say, the removal of all the Palestinians from Eretz Israel. Conclusion The Anglo-Americans are very powerful supporters of Israel, and nowhere is this support more clearly felt than through their control of UN institutions, most notably through the Security Council. Their refusal to allow Israel to be held to account places Israel above the law. This undermining of the international legal system is an attack on the citizen everywhere. If we want to help free the Palestinians, whose persistence, resilience, and grace, in the face of such overwhelming odds is an example to citizens everywhere, then we must understand the top-down forces opposed them. The only power left which can confront the institutional opposition to a two-state solution is global civil society. It must be mobilized. Notwithstanding the greed of the one percent, the world that we want to see will extend the universal franchise of human rights to all our brothers and sisters in all four corners of our planet. Not until we have helped free the Palestinians will we have succeeded in this goal.

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