In the last days of the Obama administration, the UN Security Council was allowed to pass a resolution against new Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip. The Trump administration does not seem to be going that way, though. This became apparent in recent days after the under-secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) was forced to resign for having published a report accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” on the Palestinian people. This was the first time a UN body clearly spelled out the charge that many advocates of Palestinian rights have been making for ages against the state of Israel. It might be the last. It is clear from the response of the new UN secretary general, who ordered that the report be removed from the UN website, that there will be no new pressure on Israel to recognise the rights of the Palestinian people. The much needed international pressure on Israel will be near-impossible in such an obliging environment. The UN has consistently proven itself to be toothless against a country that is undertaking some of the worst human rights abuses in the current era.

The now-withdrawn UN report had correctly likened Israel to the apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel’s own aggressive response told much about its own insecurity. Instead of responding to the allegations, it attacked the UN report by likening it to Nazi propaganda. The UN needed to assert its moral authority, rather than cower in front of the inevitable Israeli pressure. By withdrawing the report, it has only provided further evidence of the weak standing of an organisation that should ideally be committed to ensuring all forms of global injustice are fought. Its inability to show moral courage has been experienced by oppressed peoples around the world. The people of Palestine are the most visible among those ignored by the UN. The same fate has been meted out to Kashmiris, Turkish Kurds and the Burmese Rohingya. Moreover, the UN has itself compromised its adherence to the principle of free speech. There is nothing in the UN report to suggest it was ‘hate speech.’ It may not carry legal weight, but there is no legitimate reason for the body to remove the report on Israel’s behest. This is a dangerous precedent; other similarly brutal regimes could also demand the UN remove damning reports about them. This is yet another lost opportunity for the world to address the injustices against the Palestinian people.

Source: https://www.thenews.com.pk