The October 21 passing of the United Nations General Assembly resolution calling upon Israel to “stop and reverse” the Apartheid Wall is being hailed by some as a mark of success for justice in Palestine or a noteworthy step in tearing the Wall down. But, praise and relief for the UN decision should be seen as misguided, as a reading of the text finds that the Resolution presents the issue within a framework that denies the fundamental distinction between Occupied and Occupier.
As was the case in the Security Council vote, US “pressure” was overwhelming, while Europe took the leading role in assuaging US, Israeli, and its own interests by playing the role of “go between” the European and Arab blocs. It is not difficult to conclude, after reading the text, that the European bloc initiated what was Israel’s greatest achievements in the session, which was negating the legal responsibilities of the Occupier in general as well as placing a clear condition on the Arab bloc to drop the resolution calling on the International Court of Justice to make a ruling on the Wall. Though this Resolution is stronger than any previous position taken by the EU, the final document was too heavy a price to pay to have the EU vote.
***image1***The mainstream media, though, should be highlighting more the pressures and power politics that dominated the so-called debate that brought about the final resolution. The strongest language was reserved for condemning Palestinians, presented as a necessary pretext to any denunciation of Israel, stating before any mention of the Wall its “CONDEMNING all acts of violence, terrorism and destruction…CONDEMNING in particular the suicide bombings…CONDEMNING also the bomb attack in the Gaza Strip which resulted in the death of three American security officers…” Placing such conditions as prerequisites to condemning the crimes of the Occupier is alarming, and opens the door for the continued Israeli justification of its illegal acts.
Europe’s fear of “politicizing” the issue, which it said taking the issue to the Hague would do, surfaces a political position by those governments that look to avert attention from what is at its core political, and at times seeks to avert attention from their own debility in pressuring Israel. Ultimately, taking the issue to the international courts would be a way to gain greater exposure to the issue and promote further condemnation by various publics, and therefore placing greater pressure on governments.
The Arab League’s acceptance of Europe’s demands should be criticized as well, envisioning that, like most states, was pushed between US and its own interest and, on the other hand, popular demands. It was expected of the Arab bloc to stand behind what its public rhetoric declares, which the final resolution failed to do.
Just one week ago, power politics inside the UN were revisited when the United States vetoed a Syrian drafted Security Council resolution which declared construction of the Wall illegal. Following the resolution’s defeat, Nasser al Kidwa, the Observer of Palestine to the UN, lobbied for the Arab League to push forward with this resolution with the General Assembly.
The General Assembly resolution passed by with 144 votes in favor, 4 against, and 12 abstentions. As the resolution requests that the Secretary-General report on compliance with the resolution, it would be wholly predictable if Israel would use these provisions in an attempt to legitimize and widen the claim that the Wall is about “security”. This very text that was added to facilitate the vote should be watched carefully, as it may be the very undoing of noteworthy follow-up within the UN framework.
Text included in the resolution which did address the Wall demonstrates an international failure to recognize the Wall’s current reality which is devastating the lives of thousands of Palestinians. The resolution states:
PARTICULARLY CONCERNED that the route marked out for the wall under construction by Israel, the occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, could prejudge future negotiations and make the two-State solution physically impossible to implement and would cause further humanitarian hardship to the Palestinians,
Pronouncing that the Wall “could prejudge future negotiations” fails to recognize the Wall is already determining the future, particularly as Palestinian residents along the Wall’s path are being denied their very right to exist on their land—the creeping reality of expulsion which is well underway. Furthermore the Wall does not make “physically impossible” the implementation of a “two-State solution” but rather ensures that such a “solution” will be on the terms of the Occupier. The Road Map should therefore be seen as synonymous with the Wall Map.
The countries that voted against the Resolution were:
The countries that abstained:
Australia, Burundi, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Malawi, Nauru, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Tuvalu, Uruguay
Is the momentary euphoria of the Resolution’s passing perhaps a reflection of how little is achieved in the form of victories for Palestine?
At the very time that the UN Resolution was passed, not one Israeli bulldozer stopped razing Palestinian land and uprooting trees for the building of the Wall. There is little doubt in Palestine that the vote in the UN will have no direct bearing on what takes place in Palestine, and Israel’s carte blanche in violating international laws and conventions has been, ultimately, untouched.
As with all UN resolutions, Israel has already declared to continue construction of the Wall.
Though the portion of the Resolution that condemns the Wall does provide a gage of popular world opinion, which is overwhelmingly against the Wall, it should be no surprise that the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign seeks to put in the forefront what is taking place in Palestine and whether change is tangible. In the end, the indicator for the Resolution will be whether Israel does in fact stop the Wall, or whether international pressure increases and becomes effective in placing pressure on Israel to “stop and reverse” its crimes.
Read the October 21st UN Press Release on the General Assembly meeting over the resolution.