The Trump administration’s failure to secure a UN resolution condemning Hamas and other resistance factions was welcomed by Palestinians as a moral and political victory. They should not, however, be carried away by euphoria because the resolution received a high level of support.
Eighty-seven countries voted in favour of the resolution while 57 opposed it and 33 abstained; 23 others absented themselves. In the end, it fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass.
By entertaining a resolution that goes against its core principles the UN, it seems, sunk to a new low. The scandal appeared more grotesque because the vote was carried out just four days before the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which recognises the inherent right of every individual to life, liberty and security.
It insists, moreover, that the attainment of these rights is essential for justice and peace in our world. And, where these rights are not protected by the rule of law, people may be forced to resort to resistance against tyranny and oppression.
This is precisely what is at stake here in Palestine. A people have been subjected to decades of military occupation that denies their freedom, exposes them to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and holds their women and children in detention without charge or trial.
No wonder it has been said that their condition today is worse than it has ever been. Palestinians have no control over their economy and they cannot move freely within their own land without the permission of settlers. They cannot trade with the outside world because the occupier maintains control over their borders.
Any people subjected to such inhumanity would naturally resist. Their right to do so is legitimate and inalienable. What the Trump administration and Israel demanded from the UNGA last week was the dissolution of this right, which it previously adopted through Resolution 2787 (XXVI) in December 1971. It confirmed the legality of a people’s struggle for self-determination and liberation from colonial and foreign domination.
For this reason, Palestinians of every political persuasion opposed the US resolution. Member of Fatah Central Committee Abbas Zaki summed up the national sentiment when he said: “If Hamas, which carries out resistance, is defined as a terrorist organisation, then the entire Palestinian people are carrying out terror… because Hamas and the rest of the Palestinians are national liberation movements fighting against the Israeli occupation.”
This latest attempt by the US to criminalise Palestinian resistance and legitimise Israel’s occupation must serve as a grim reminder of the threats posed to universally recognised individual and collective rights. The weekly attacks on peaceful marchers in Gaza demanding their right to return is a glaring example. Even the individual right to boycott Israel has become endangered by US attempts to criminalise it.
In reality, there are certain rights that are absolute and inalienable. They are upheld and protected not because of the generosity of any country or government, but rather because of the human condition of the people they refer to. Therefore, instead of pandering to US prejudice, countries dedicated to the ideals of freedom and peace are obliged to give all their political, moral and material assistance to people struggling for freedom, including the Palestinians.
Since 1948, human rights have been enshrined in international conventions and treaties to save mankind from the scourge of war. Countries that do not recognise these rights remain condemned by the UN (Res. No. 3214). They are, in fact, obliged by numerous resolutions to avoid all actions that could constitute recognition of Israel’s illegal occupation.
It is clear from the policies of the current US administration that it has no qualms in disregarding international law or eroding Palestinian rights. The move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, its avowed rejection of the Palestinian right of return and support for Jewish settlements in the occupied Arab territories (including the Syrian Golan Heights) are all examples of this dangerous trajectory.
Ultimately, human rights must only be defined by absolute principles and not according to the identity of the victims and perpetrators. This 70th anniversary of the UDHR offers a welcome opportunity to renew support for a free and independent Palestine. The late African-American leader Rev Martin Luther King warned of the consequences of not doing so; no one is free until we are all free.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.