The United Nations Security Council held its quarterly open debate on July 23rd regarding the situation in the Middle East, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As usual, the meeting was an occasion for Israel-bashing. This time, there was considerable discussion regarding the demolition by Israeli forces on July 22nd of buildings in the Wadi Hummus/Sur Bahir neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Most of the buildings were still under construction. The Palestinians argued that the demolished buildings were technically on land under Palestinian Authority control, which should not have required Israeli permission to construct so long as the Palestinian Authority had issued its own permit. But Israel considered the location of the buildings to be perilously close to Israel’s security barrier, which was intended to create a sort of buffer zone to more easily prevent surprise terrorist attacks. The matter went to Israel’s highest court, which ultimately allowed the demolition to proceed.
The Palestinians are weaponizing the ICC against Israel
Ignoring Israel’s legitimate security concerns, the fact that the buildings were mostly unoccupied when demolished, and that the few building occupants had been given ample opportunity to vacate, Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN’s Under-Secretary General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, condemned the demolitions in her briefing to the Security Council. She said that the demolitions “resulted in the displacement of 24 Palestinians, including 14 children, while affecting the livelihoods of some 300 people.” She claimed that “Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian property is incompatible with its obligations under international humanitarian law,” a theme picked up by other speakers who condemned Israel’s demolitions and settlements policies as running counter to international law.
As usual, Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer for the so-called “State of Palestine,” cast all Palestinians as innocent victims of “colonial foreign occupation that is rapidly mutating into apartheid.” In his world, Palestinian terrorists launching rockets from Hamas-controlled Gaza aimed at Israeli population centers and using Palestinian women and children as human shields are also innocent victims of Israeli “occupation.” Of course, there is no Israeli occupation of Gaza. Israeli settlers and soldiers were unilaterally withdrawn from Gaza in 2005. Mansour claimed that the demolition of the residential buildings in Wadi al-Hummus was “a war crime under the Rome Statute,” which created the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Palestinians are weaponizing the ICC against Israel, which is not a member, to help achieve the Palestinians’ political goal of delegitimizing Israel in the so-called “international community.”
Hamas is a terrorist organization, Palestinian Authority uses public funds to reward terrorists who kill Israeli Jews
Jason D. Greenblatt, the Trump administration’s Middle East peace envoy, brought a sense of reality to the Security Council chamber. “International consensus is not international law, so let’s stop kidding ourselves,” he said. Nor, he added, is the conflict going to be resolved by constant references to inconclusive international law and ambiguous United Nations resolutions. “It is true that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority continue to assert that East Jerusalem must be a capital for the Palestinians,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “But let’s remember, an aspiration is not a right.” Only direct negotiations between the parties to the conflict have any chance of reaching a peaceful resolution.
“We have all heard cogent arguments claiming international law says one thing or another about this or that aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Mr. Greenblatt explained. “Some of those arguments are persuasive, at least to certain audiences. But none of them are conclusive. There is no judge, jury, or court in the world that the parties involved have agreed to give jurisdiction in order to decide whose interpretations are correct.”
Mr. Greenblatt reminded the members of the “international community” listening to his remarks about the United Nations’ disgraceful failure to build an “international consensus” behind the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization or that the Palestinian Authority uses public funds to reward terrorists who kill Israeli Jews. A double standard, to say the least.
UN had no problem condemning the outcome from Israel’s legal system
The UN’s double standard against Israel was also on display during the daily press briefing by the spokesman’s office of the Secretary General. Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary General, repeated the UN Under-Secretary General’s denunciation of the Israeli demolitions she had delivered earlier that day as violative of international law. Mr. Haq added, “we are against the principle of the settlements.” This prompted me to ask him to state the Secretary General’s position regarding the Palestinian Authority’s criminalization of the voluntary sale by Palestinians to Israeli Jews of dwellings in Old Jerusalem. Such an act violates Palestinian law and is punishable by life imprisonment or even execution. Mr. Haq’s answer was incredibly evasive:
“I’m not going to get into different authorities’ legal systems. Ultimately those are issues to be worked out by the legal authorities with respect for due process.”
The Palestinians seeking to prevent demolition of mostly uncompleted dwellings were given due process under Israeli law before the demolitions were allowed to proceed. They exercised the right to petition Israel’s highest court for a ruling on the legality of Israel’s plans to demolish the buildings still under construction before the demolitions could take place. Israel’s independent judiciary, which has ruled against Israeli government settlement initiatives in some cases in the past, sided with the Israeli government this time on security grounds. Nevertheless, the UN had no problem condemning the outcome from Israel’s legal system.
Palestinian Authority’s refusal to allow Palestinians, under the threat of draconian punishment, to voluntarily sell their property to Israeli Jews
However, the UN declines to comment on the Palestine Authority’s blatant violation of its own people’s basic human rights, rendering the simple act of voluntarily selling Arab owned property to an Israeli Jew punishable by death or life in prison. Just last year, the Jerusalem Post reported, a Palestinian-American was arrested for selling a house in the Old City of Jerusalem to a Jewish Israeli organization and later sentenced to life in prison by a Palestinian court in Ramallah. There has been radio silence from the UN.
Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” It goes on to state that “no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs.” Article 17 states, “Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.”
Clearly, the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to allow Palestinians, under the threat of draconian punishment, to voluntarily sell their property to Israeli Jews, even in areas of the Old City near Judaism’s holiest sites, is a blatant violation of the human rights of both the Palestinians and Israeli Jews. It prevents Palestinians from exercising their full human right of property ownership, which inherently includes the right to transfer the property to whomever wishes to buy it at a fair market price. Any Palestinian violating Palestinian law against such sales is subject to imprisonment without due process. And enforcement of this Palestinian law discriminates against Israeli Jews by preventing them, because of their religion and national origin, from buying the property at a fair market price.
Thus, we witness yet another shameful example of UN hypocrisy and double standards.