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Experts point to ‘effective role’ of UN General Assembly on Palestine

November 30, 2021 at 4:39 pm

A picture shows a United Nations flag fluttering above a UN-run school in Ramallah on 8 April 2021 [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images]

The UN General Assembly has become paralyzed, but has an important role in affecting international law on Palestine, top experts said on Monday and reported by Anadolu News Agency.

“The UN General Assembly is today paralyzed on the question of Palestine, primarily because of the ability of the US veto. Why can’t peace resolution be initiated (by the General Assembly) beginning with arms embargo on Israel,” suggested Michael Lynk, the sitting UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, told an international conference.

Emphasising a rock-solid human rights framework grounded in international law, Lynk said the General Assembly has a “more effective role” to play on Palestine.

Referring to the “Uniting for Peace” Resolution invoked in the case of the Korean War in the 1950s by the General Assembly, he said: “It was developed in 1950 because the UN Security Council was hampered by the threat of veto in the face of the Korean question.”

Pointing to the provision of international sanctions on Tel Aviv, he said Israel has decided “it can bear criticism as long as it is without consequences.”

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Around 19 speakers and 450 experts, scholars in legal and international relations came together today for a hybrid conference hosted by the UK-based Law for Palestine, debating the effectiveness of international law with regard to the Palestine issue.

Students and faculty at the West Bank’s Birzeit University, Al-Quds Open University in Ramallah, Islamic University of Gaza and Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, besides members of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, joined the conference physically, as well as through video link.

The conference also marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Lynk also suggested seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice at The Hague on the question of the illegality of occupation with regard to settlements and annexation of East Jerusalem, besides the location of a wall in the West Bank.

“Israel has stepped beyond all of the parameters that are set out in humanitarian law and the laws of the occupation,” he added.

“The General Assembly should show its support to ongoing investigation by the office of the prosecutor by International Criminal Court,” he said, calling for a “more effective role” of the world body in protecting human rights organizations.

Richard Falk, a former UN Rapporteur and international law expert, said the inter-governmental structure of diplomacy “as filtered through the UN has proved to be a huge disappointment in the case of Palestine.”

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He urged popular solidarity to play its role in the Palestinian struggle to put pressure on the UN.

“The Israeli designation of widely respected and courageous human rights groups in Palestine as ‘terrorist organizations’ exhibits Israeli panic … moral panic and it is a sign of weakness, not a sign of confidence or strength,” he said.

“I find hope in the present situation, but the challenge for the rest of the world is to exhibit a more militant form of solidarity (with Palestinians) that has existed in the past,” Falk added.

John Dugard, former UN Rapporteur, said the UN had contributed to dismantling the apartheid in South Africa, but “I must confess that I am very disappointed in the overall conduct of the United Nations.”

He said other member states of the UN have “not been prepared to stand up and to describe the way the UN Security Council has failed in its task to promote peace and justice in the Middle East.”

“It is not an understatement to say that ESCWA (UN Economic, Social, and Cultural Committee – West Asia) has not contributed in any way at all, whatsoever, to the solution of peace. It has been guided and obstructed at the same time by the US and has achieved absolutely nothing,” he added.

“This is the root cause, that Israel is armed by western powers and is able to commit atrocities in Gaza, in particular, but also throughout the occupied Palestine territories. It is important that the General Assembly should recommend an arms embargo on Israel and it should also identify Israeli actions constituting apartheid,” he suggested.

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