South African legal guru John Dugard has once again shaken the foundations of the American/Israeli axis.
In his typical no-nonsense style, Dugard in his capacity as the UN human rights envoy for the Palestinian territories has called on the secretary-general to withdraw the UN from the Quartet, if it fails to evaluate the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories.
His report, which is due to be presented shortly, is a scathing indictment of the Jewish state’s poor record on human rights. He charges Israel of continuous military incursions, arrests, house demolitions and checkpoints remaining in force, despite the thawing of relations between Olmert and Abbas.
Dugard claims that the entire social fabric of Palestinian society is threatened by poverty and unemployment, which he attributes to Israel’s refusal to transfer tax monies due to the Palestinians and the imposition of banking restrictions by the United States.
“There are some 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and prisoners are treated in an inhuman and degrading manner. The extrajudicial killing of suspected militants by means of rocket fire continues unabated.”
Dugard is of the view that while UN agencies and personnel advance development on the ground in the Occupied Territories, serious questions about the role of the UN Secretary-General in the Quartet are being raised. The Quartet, comprising the UN, the EU, Russia and the US, has according to him “shown little regard for promoting human rights or international humanitarian law” and is indirectly responsible for imposing economic sanctions in the territories.
His damning report follows on the heels of his colleague, Alvaro de Soto, who as the UN Envoy to the Quartet, declared that it, under the influence of the US, had failed the Palestinians.
In his May 2007 “End of Mission Report”, de Soto stated that “as a practical matter, the Quartet is pretty much a group of friends of the US –” and the US doesn’t feel the need to consult closely with the Quartet except when it suits it”.
The remarkable manipulation within the UN has resulted in the Security Council relinquishing its powers in respect of the Occupied Palestinian Territories in favour of an amorphous body known as the Quartet. It was set up in 2003 without a founding resolution or mandate from either the Security Council or the General Assembly.
Dugard’s latest challenge has caused ripples of discontent within Israel. They obviously cannot accept criticism, particularly of the type which eminent jurists are able to make in relation to violations of accords such as the Geneva Convention and the UN Charter. Their frustration also flows from the fact that tarnishing Dugard, as an anti-semite will be lacking credibility given the impeccable record, which he enjoys internationally.
Notwithstanding the slander emanating from pro-Zionist lobbies, Dugard laments that the UN ignores the views of the majority of its 192 members and has abandoned its role as the guardian of international legitimacy.
Challenging the UN to condemn Israel’s violations, Dugard has also called on it to ensure that Israel complies with its obligations. And if unable to persuade the Quartet to act appropriately, the UN should withdraw from it, is his call.