Invoking secondary UN General Assembly authority in the Palestine/Israel conflict

In an article entitled “Bush must go against Iraq no matter what the UN does” (January 24, 2003), writer Charles Krauthammer wrote, ” the one advantage of resolution 1441 is that it gave us a window of legitimacy during which to mobilize, position equipment, send ships, line up bases, in short, create the infrastructure for disarming Iraq.” I agree with Krauthammer, and add that when Ariel Sharon’s forces entered Gaza, January 27, 2003, killing Palestinian civilians and destroying property, the same window of legitimacy was created for the disarmament, and containment of Israel. The only questions left to be answered in this respect, is why there is no one willing to take advantage of the window, and what must be done to compel Israel to abide by binding UN resolutions, and international laws and treaties relevant to the occupation of Palestine. It is not morally nor legally defensible that world powers continue to ignore the daily killing of Palestinian civ! ilians by the Israeli military, and all Palestinians are civilians, even those who commit crimes against Israel. Israel is perhaps the world’s foremost arrogant and flagrant violator of international law. We must admit this fact, along with the fact that Ariel Sharon has not demonstrated to the world that he is the type of man who can be trusted with a nuclear arsenal. He has not demonstrated to the world that he is a man who possess good judgement and who can restrain himself, and can be trusted with weapons of mass destruction, and custodianship over a “protected people” who stand in the way of his desire to create by conquest, “Greater Israel.”

As the Israeli people prepare to go to the polls, they should keep in mind that indeed they are sending a message to the world. Their vote will convey to the world whether or not they are a people who want peace, or whether they are a people who have become wrongly convinced that they will win their war against an unarmed people, following the morally bankrupt policies of their current leader, Ariel Sharon. When Sharon said there is no moral equivalence between the Palestinians and the Israelis, he was correct. There is no moral equivalence between a people who brazenly celebrate the killing and starvation of people, and the theft and destrcution of their property, and others. The Palestinian people have lived in horror for more than 50 years, while the world has turned a blind eye to their suffering, fearing the wrath of world Zionists. Leaders of the Muslim world who are hesitant to publicize their cooperation with the United States in the disarm! ament of Iraq, might consider, rather than negotiating for debt relief, bargaining for the lives of these people. Demand that the United States put the Israeli government on notice, that either it end its siege on the Palestinian people voluntary, or the international community will take decisive action aimed towards ending the conflict once and for all. If the UN Security Council refuses to act on behalf of the Palestinian people, this according to the UN Charter constitutes a failure, and the General Assembly, in such an instance might be allowed to take up the issue. On this topic Justice Muhammad Ali Khan, LL.M., former Vice Chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights wrote in a paper he authored, entitled ” International Aspects of the Palestinian Problem” the following: “The UN is charged with the responsibility of maintenance of international peace and security. Yet, in respect to its performance for settlement of the dispute about Palestine, it is evident! that it has failed to discharge its duties to this end. Chapter 7 of the UN Charter dealing with enforcement measures, Article 39, says: The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall take recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Former Vice Chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission, Ali Khan LL.M suggests in this same paper, that if the Security Council refuses to act, or is prevented by the irresponsible use of any Security Council member’s power to veto, that the UN Charter allows in such an event, the transference of the primary duty of the Security Council to maintain peace and security, to the General Assembly. Khan argues that the General Assembly has a secondary duty, under the Charter to maintain peace and security. Justice Ali Khan wrote: ” The answer to this problem, seems to be that we must solve the matter by invoking the powers of the General Assembly under the Charter of the United Nations as it was done in the case of Korea, by passing a “United for Peace” resolution.

There is a window of opportunity and legitimate action, created by Ariel Sharon, allowing the international community to bring to a halt, once and for all, the flagrant violations by the state of Israel of UN resolutions. Israel is presently in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Cultural and Political Rights. Israel is in material breech of the Hague Convention IV of 1907, and the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights, June 1993. Israel is in material breach of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self Government Arrangements by the Government of Israel and the PLO signed September 13, 1993. If the Security Council, under these circumstances, which includes Israel’s continued killing of Palest! inian civilians, including women and children, illegal arrests and detentions and disappearances of Palestinian men, along with the disproportionate use of force against an unarmed people, the international community must come to the aide of the Palestinian people, and end this conflict once and for all time.

The writer is the Founder and President of the National Association of Muslim American Women. The author is also head of the International Assoc. for Muslim Women and Children, an accredited NGO with the UN Division on the Rights of the Palestinians.