The Israeli government and a US senator have reacted angrily to news that the United Nations’ development budget for Palestine includes support for Palestinians to “seek legal recourse for violations by the occupying power”.
The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for the State of Palestine “presents the strategic programming framework” of the UN system in the occupied Palestine territory, and “presents its collective response to national development priorities”.
It is intended to cover a five-year period, 2018-2022 inclusive, beginning on 1 January 2018.
Sixteen UN agencies with offices in Palestine and four non-resident agencies are signatories
to the UNDAF, which has four “strategic priority areas”.
These are listed as: supporting Palestine’s path to independence; supporting equal access to accountable, effective and responsive democratic governance for all Palestinians; supporting sustainable and inclusive economic development; and social development and protection.
According to the full UNDAF document: “The UN will increase its support for Palestinian institutions (state and non-government) and Palestinian victims of violations to effectively monitor, advocate and seek legal recourse for violations by the occupying power”. In practice this will mean:
training, capacity-building and technical advice to ensure that Palestinian victims and institutions are equipped with the knowledge and tools to effectively access international accountability mechanisms in order to hold Israel accountable for its violations under international law.
Talk of “legal recourse” and “international accountability mechanisms” – quite probably references to fora like the International Criminal Court – has alarmed the Israeli government, with the Foreign Ministry claiming that the UNDAF plan constitutes an “attack on Israel”.
Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely vowed to continue the “fight against Palestinian diplomatic terrorism”, and said the UN would “pay the price” of its loss of “legitimacy”.
The UN development plan was also condemned by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who described it as “yet another example of the UN’s shameful hostility towards Israel”.
He added: “I will continue to press all legislative options to ensure US taxpayer dollars are not used to implement, facilitate, or carry out this discriminatory plan undermining Israel.”
UN Watch, an organisation dedicated to ensuring impunity for Israeli violations, similarly urged the US, Canada and Australia “to ensure that their taxpayer contributions are not being misused to undermine UN institutions through an escalation of politicised attacks on Israel”.