Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel expands its presence at the UN, a body it treats with contempt

June 6, 2017 at 11:51 am

Members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council hold a vote on April 12, 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York City [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]

Exerting additional influence at the UN is proving to be easy for Israel. With the US putting pressure on the UN Human Rights Council for its criticism of Israeli human rights violations, the Western European and Others Group’s (WEOG) lobbying, as well as the UN’s commitment to upholding colonialism, Danny Danon’s appointment as vice president to the UN General Assembly should come as no surprise. His tenure will last a year and commences in September.

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi described the appointment as “tantamount to giving support for the occupation and rewarding Israel’s impunity and lawlessness.” Danon’s new position has been confirmed even though Israel treats UN resolutions with contempt, and has done for almost 70 years. Why does the UN hierarchy ignore the fact that Israel’s membership of the organisation was conditional on allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to their land, something that Israel has never permitted? It should be thrown out of the international body, not feted.

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee Member [File photo]

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee Member [File photo]

Speaking about his appointment, Danon stated: “We have proven once again that Israel is ready and able to serve in significant positions in the UN and attempts to block this progress will not succeed.” Last month, the Israeli official said that the UN is no longer the Palestinian playground. “Something is changing here,” he gloated. The context for the statement was in relation to Nikki Haley’s appointment as US ambassador to the UN; she has regularly urged the institution to remove its alleged “bias” against Israel and has now alluded to quitting the HRC altogether. The reasons given by Haley for this possibility include “an institutional bias against Israel” and the inclusion of Venezuela and Cuba.


Right-winger Danon can rest assured that Israel’s influence at the UN will not be blocked, not least because the institution was never the “Palestinians’ playground”. Both points should provoke widespread outrage against Israel and the UN. After Israel’s inclusion in the (WEOG) as well as roles in the UN Fourth Committee on Decolonisation and the Sixth Committee on the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly, there should be no doubt about the UN’s role in furthering the colonisation of Palestine. Not only can Palestinians not claim the UN as their arena, but the external impositions and non-binding resolutions have also ensured that the platform for Palestinian visibility is restricted to the agenda of those with hegemony therein.

Israel’s infiltration of international institutions will exacerbate the existing agenda. On the other end of the spectrum, Palestinians have been served with insignificant appeasement. Every action in support of Palestine at an international level is a meagre response to the conditions created by the acceptance of Israel’s colonial presence in Palestine. UNRWA is such an example. Rather than taking action towards implementing the Palestinian right of return, the UN has preferred to maintain an organisation which, in turn, has enabled the UN and Israel to entrench the indigenous population into a permanently displaced situation with little hope of emancipation, and almost entirely dependent on aid handouts.

Read: ‘Anti-Israel bias’ may cause US to quit UN rights body

If the UN embodied a shard of fairness, it would have at least acknowledged that Palestinian anti-colonial struggle is far more complex than simply challenging Israel. Every step taken by Palestinians is immediately countered by measures that elevate Israel to prominence, whether through profitable measures such as surveillance technology and military aid, or acceptance into the higher echelons of the UN. Behind this expanding entity in historic Palestine lies the complicit support of the international community. Danon’s appointment is blatant confirmation of this fact.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.