U.N. Still Stupefied on Syria

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The UN Human Rights Council did take a brief respite from its incessant condemnations of Israel, issuing a statement last month asking the Syrian government to stop the violence against its own people and to allow a fact-finding mission to visit Syria. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay reiterated these demands in a statement issued on June 9th. “So far we have not received any official reply from Syria – either positive or negative,” Pillay said.

For his part, President Assad is doing everything possible to divert attention away from his atrocities against his own people. As usual, like many Arab dictators, his chosen means is to exploit the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in order to manufacture a confrontation and incite, once again, world opinion against Israel.

While stonewalling the UN Human Rights Council regarding Syria’s own atrocities, for example, a Syrian government representative played right into the Human Rights Council’s anti-Israel sentiment by declaring on June 8th: “Israel…is a state that is built on hatred.”

In the latest Syrian-engineered provocation against Israel, which occurred just three day prior to this statement to the Human Rights Council, the Syrian government bused hundreds of Palestinian refugees to the Golan Heights border.  As the would-be infiltrators converged on the border fence, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) called on them in Arabic to cease, and used riot dispersal gear before firing warning shots in the air. Once these warnings were ignored, the IDF was forced to fire towards the legs of those breaching the fence.

The IDF spokesperson told Xinhua News that “soldiers shot into the air as dozens of protesters kept approaching the fences, despite warnings to stay away,” and that the IDF used “bullhorns to warn rioters in Arabic” to not approach the border fence. The Syrians claimed that 23 Palestinians were killed by IDF forces, but Israel disputes that contention.

Israel decided to take the diplomatic offensive at the United Nations this time, rather than wait for the customary condemnations of Israel from UN officials and the UN Human Rights Council. Ambassador Haim Waxman, Israel’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, submitted a letter of complaint dated June 6, 2011 to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Security Council in response to the latest provocations that were carried out on the Israel-Syrian disengagement line.  In the letter, Ambassador Waxman wrote that “this incident — which could not have taken place without the knowledge of the Syrian authorities — reflects a blatant attempt by Syria to distract international attention from the violent repression of its own people.”

Ambassador Waxman highlighted the way in which the Palestinian demonstrators used violent means in their attempts to move across the border. For example, they sought to break fences and threw Molotov cocktails and other large objects at the IDF.

“On numerous occasions during this incident,” Ambassador Waxman observed, “the IDF halted its operations so that members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) could access the area and treat the wounded. However, instead of cooperating with the ICRC, many of the protestors continued to act violently. They even seized ICRC flags in blatant violation of basic principles and norms of international law.”

Ambassador Waxman stressed that the responsibility for any harm caused to the individuals involved in these violent provocations lies with the Syrian government and called on the international community to “convey a clear message to Syria that such provocations carry serious potential for escalation and must cease completely.”

I contacted the secretary general’s spokesperson office to inquire whether Ban Ki-moon had either responded to Israel’s letter or had any comment on its contents. I was told the answer is no, and was referred to a bland statement the spokesperson for the secretary general issued to the press concerning the incident before Ban Ki-moon’s receipt of Israel’s letter.  The statement called “for maximum restraint on all sides” and indicated that the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) is seeking to confirm the facts of what actually happened. Of course, it does not seem to dawn on the UN disengagement “observers” that if Syria had not set this provocation in motion in the first place by sending Palestinian mobs to try and illegally cross the border, there would have been no incident to investigate. It also raises the question of why the UN force was not more proactive in helping to maintain the disengagement. Instead, the UN was AWOL as usual.

And so it goes at the United Nations. We may see a meaningless resolution put to a vote in the Security Council in a few days while the Syrian government continues to kill its own people and stoke more confrontations with Israel to divert attention. Evil is whitewashed as the courage to clearly distinguish between right and wrong has given way to a policy of accommodating the enemies of true peace and freedom at all cost.

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  • sandra

    Why does Israel continue to call on the UN for support or, attempt to defend their actions when they are condemned? They continue to give this organization legitimacy. I know the choice not to recognize the UN's authority rather than its present action, may seem like suicide but, I would rather fight to take the noose off from around my neck, than to attempt to defend myself to those who find me guilty because I breathe.

  • Fred Dawes

    All just part of the plan.

  • aspacia

    The UN has been outed for its antiJewish stance and hypocrisy many times. It members simply shrug their shoulder, continue illegally lining their pockets with kickbacks from the oil rich states, and resort to lying about their activities and what Israel does.

    This is body is worthless and should be kicked out of our land.

    • johnnywoods

      If the Palestinians manage to smuggle a suitcase nuke into Israel and detonate it killing 100,000 Israelis the "rocket scientists" at the U.N. would doubtless find a way to blame the Jews for it. Ban Ki-Moon could not find his backside with a hay rake. I don`t understand why we keep funding those fools and idiots or why we continue to allow them to operate on American soil. Send them packing to a wonderful place like Uganda and see how they like it there.

  • tagalog

    The U.N., with the Syria circumstance, has once again, for the umpteenth time, proved that it is interested more in posturing than it is in actually doing anything substantive to improve the world.

    Based on its performance since the Korean War, that is probably a net good thing.

  • None are so blind

    The world doesn't see what is happening in Syria. Maybe it is because they have problems with their eyes…

    But it can't be because the world told me they went to an excellent Western educated, reformer, peace loving ophthalmologist!
    What was his name… Let me see… I think it is Bashar.

  • Ghostwriter

    It seems that the U.N. has little interest in helping the people of Syria or improving it's image in this country by proving that it will do something concrete about what is going on over there. It's proving itself to be a lazy organization that's more interested in attacking Israel instead dealing with tyrants.

  • crackerjack

    How can the UN support Israel in "defending borders" the UN does not recognize? In UN resolution 497, the UN regarded Israel's "Golan Hights Law" as "…null and void…".

    The UN and ALL member states exept Israel view Golan as Syrian territory. So going by the FACTS, Israel is shooting syrians on Syrian soil.

    Lets wait and see what excuses Israel will find not to hand Golan back to to a future democratic syrian administration supported by the West and all others involved. We all know the issue here is water, so may the games begin.

    • MixMChess

      It's obvious crackerjack can't even pretend to understand international law. :-(

      UN Resolution 497 is a chapter VI resolution which has no binding or legal effect under international law – essentially chapter VI resolutions are merely viewed as a "suggestions" and take hold no legal authority and are not binding on the party or parties involved.

      The FACTS are clear, on December 14, 1981, the Knesset voted to LEGALLY ANNEX the Golan Heights. The statute "extended Israeli civilian law and administration to the residents of the Golan, replacing the military authority that had ruled the area since 1967."

      Following the Knesset's approve of the law, Professor Julius Stone of Hastings College of the Law wrote the following: “There is no rule of international law which requires a lawful military occupant, in this situation, to wait forever before [making] control and government of the territory permanent….Many international lawyers have wondered, indeed, at the patience which led Israel to wait as long as she did."

      Of course, the annexation law does not prevent future negotiations over this territory with the Syrians. In fact, Israel has stated its willingness to trade some or all of the Golan so long as Syria agrees to normalize relations and sign a peace agreement.

      Even assuming crackerjack's false premise that the annexation unrecognized, the Golan is still Israeli territory under International Law and UN resolution 242 (which by the way, is the only UN resolution and international legal authority that governs this territory). Under 242, Israel may retain territory (here the Golan) as a "safe and RECOGNIZED BOUNDARY" to be "free from threats or acts of force." Thus, under 242 this is considered ISRAELI TERRITORY (even pending any final negotiated settlement). Israel is defending herself from paid Syrian marauders and terrorists attempting to infiltrate ISRAELI TERRITORY to murder Israeli civilians and children.

      So crackerjack, would you care to describe to the group how it feels to be intellectually stomped? :-)

      • crackerjack

        UN Resolution 242 –

        (i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

        (ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." [3]

        UN Resolution 497-

        "the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect" (section 1).

        get in back in touch with REALITY MixMChess. You're operating in a realm of fantasy and wishfull thinking.

        • MixMChess

          What intellectual prowess on display by crackerjack! You simply pasted two UN Resolutions! Too bad your feeble mind can't understand the legal implications behind these resolutions. But, since I'm feeling nice today, I'll give you law lesson free of charge. :-)

          UN Resolution 242 is the only UN resolution that governs the territory of the Golan, which established the "principles that were to guide the negotiations for an Arab-Israeli peace settlement."

          The two clauses cited taken together do not require Israeli withdrawal as a prerequisite for Arab action. Moreover, it does not specify how much territory Israel is required to give up. The Security Council did not say Israel must withdraw from “all the” territories occupied after the Six-Day War. This was quite deliberate. In fact, the Soviet delegate wanted the inclusion of those words and said that their exclusion meant “that part of these territories can remain in Israeli hands.

          It was repeatedly declared that the resolution did not require Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders. In fact the British Foreign Secretary (who helped draft the resolution) told the House of Commons the withdrawal envisaged by the resolution would not be from “all the territories.” When asked to explain the British position later, Lord Caradon said: “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial.”

          Similarly, U.S. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg explained: “The notable omissions — which were not accidental — in regard to withdrawal are the words ‘the’ or ‘all’ and the ‘June 5, 1967 lines’…the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal.”

          The dispute with Syria is over the Golan Heights. Israel has repeatedly expressed a willingness to negotiate a compromise in exchange for peace; however, Syria has refused to consider even a limited peace treaty unless Israel first agrees to a complete withdrawal. Under 242, Israel has no obligation to withdraw from any part of the Golan in the absence of a peace accord with Syria.

          So 242 confirms my earlier positions (and clearly refutes yours) that under 242, Israel is not required to withdraw from the Golan and may continue to occupy, administer and even legally annex the territory. Golan is ISRAELI TERRITORY (unless of course, a final peace can be established with Syria in which the lands can be traded as part of a final negotiated settlement).

          As already stated, resolution 497 has NO LEGAL EFFECT (its a Chapter VI resolution – which means its non-binding and merely "suggestive") and does not govern the status of this settlement. Even if Israel's annexation of Golan were (incorrectly) unrecognized, Golan is still currently Israeli territory under 242.

          Looks like you got stomped again, huh crackerjack? :-(

    • ebonystone

      "Lets wait and see what excuses Israel will find not to hand Golan back to to a future democratic syrian administration …."
      If Israel is to wait for a "democratic Syrian administration" before handing back Golan, they'll have a very long wait indeed.

      • crackerjack

        As soon as Assad is gone, the Syrians will have Western support in building a new, more progressive administration. Then it will be up to israel to explain why the Golan Syrians are to be exempt from this process.

        • Dan

          Ahh the operative word…"Progressive Administration" … A progressive caliphate maybe ?

        • MixMChess

          Israel has repeatedly stated a willingness to trade parts or all of the Golan with Syria in exchange for peace agreement. In fact, in 2000 Ehud Barak offered all of the Golan to the Syrians in exchange for peace. It's obvious Israel wants peace. The Syrian regime just uses Israel as propaganda. Syria is obviously only interested in murdering Israelis and its own people (just look at the torture of the 13 year old boy last week). What is so difficult to understand about that crackerbrain?

        • jpl

          You are posing a question based on a future event that is hardly likely. Why not pose a question–or answer one–on how the Assad family has managed to be the Corleone family of Syria, oppressing its own people (and in good standing among the Arab world.) Really, it the Golan what's created the victims of 4 decades of dictatorship?

  • elihew

    Prophecy about Damascus (Syria)
    [17:1] The oracle concerning Damascus.
    “Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city
    And will become a fallen ruin.
    (Isaiah 17.1.).

  • crackerjack

    This "Oracle" is a waste of time…………….

    that prophecy is almost 2500 years old and Damascus is still going strong.

  • Amused

    LOL….one does not need an oracle to see that Syria will never make peace with Israel , nor will it's bedroom buddies in Iran . So forget about the Golan , it will remain part of Israel . Is that what you think ? Democracy will change Syria's intentions and thus Isreal will simply defer to what ? crakerjack , you're a bigger dreamer than elihew and his scriptures .

  • Cynic

    UNSC resolution 338
    “Calls upon all parties concerned to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts;

    Decides that, immediately and concurrently with the cease-fire, negotiations start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.”

    makes 242 binding.
    But of course there are those including Western diplomats who don’t wish to see certain international agreements carried out but reneged on such (Obama and his interpretation of the legality of West Bank settlements – heh, no doubt his knowledge of 242 is as scant as that of the Constitution) as the League of Nations decisions. San Remo Conference and Sevrès agreements which were incorporated into the UN on its founding.

    Just as well that the Israelis didn’t accept a piece of scribbled on paper as a peace agreement in light of what we are seeing in Egypt now.

  • Dan

    you are joking, aren't you?