Human-rights abuser Morocco leads the international campaign to dismantle Israel.
Morocco, replacing Lebanon on the United Nations Security Council, wasted no time in raising the issue of Israeli settlements after a closed-door Security Council meeting on January 10th about the unrelated topic of Children and Armed Conflict. As the United States representative is reported to have pointed out, Morocco's request was "ill-timed and counter-productive." Morocco's decision to begin its tenure on the Security Council by carrying the Palestinians' torch on the Israeli settlements issue is also the height of hypocrisy, considering Morocco's continuing illegal occupation of the Western Sahara territory and repression of its people who yearn for self-determination.
Expect to see a continuing effort to insert the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, particularly the settlements issue, on the Security Council agenda whenever the Palestinians' allies, such as Morocco, possibly can. It's all part of the Palestinians' campaign to persuade more Security Council members to support the Palestinians' bid for full UN membership and to isolate the United States diplomatically if it does not drop its veto threat. So far, the United States has not had to exercise its veto power because the Palestinians were unable last year to garner a majority of other members to support their application for membership.
Palestine's Observer to the UN, Riyad Mansour, told UN correspondents last week that the Palestinians would employ "new creative ideas" to gain full membership in the United Nations:
Are we giving up because there is one powerful country that has a veto power saying the Security Council should not be involved? We're not giving up. So now we're coming up with these new creative ideas.
Mansour referred to a letter he had handed to Bass Sangqu, the UN Ambassador from South Africa, which holds the Security Council presidency for the month of January. The letter purports to document "crimes committed by the occupying authority against our people in the occupied territory, including the terrorist activities by the settlers against our civilian population." And Mansour called for a report on Israeli settlements to the Security Council by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Mansour also announced that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be visiting Palestinian leaders in the West Bank within the month, presumably to report back to the Security Council their testimonials of Israeli "crimes."
How about Ban Ki-moon adding to his itinerary a stop in the Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco? The people of Western Sahara, which was once a Spanish colony, were entitled under international law to decide for themselves whether they wanted complete independence or association with another state after the colonizing power gave up control. Morocco never gave the people of Western Sahara this chance. Instead, it invaded and occupied their territory.
Human rights abuses by Moroccan authorities abound in the Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara territory. A leaked report of an investigation in 2006 by the United Nations Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded:
Overall, the human rights situation is of serious concern, particularly in the Moroccan-administered territory of Western Sahara. Currently, the Sahrawi people are not only denied their right to self-determination, but equally are severely restricted from exercising a series of other rights, and specially rights of particular importance to the very right of self-determination, such as the right to express their views about the issue, to create associations defending their right to self-determination and to hold assemblies to make their views known. In order to comply with its international obligations, particularly under the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, serious changes to both legislation as well as government practice on the issue of Western Sahara are required.
Little has changed since 2006. A 2011 report entitled "Worst of the Worst 2011" by the Freedom House, for example, included Western Sahara in its list of the world's most repressive societies:
Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front made little progress in mediated negotiations on Western Sahara’s status in 2010, and violent clashes between Sahrawi protesters and Moroccan security forces led to a number of deaths in November. Sahrawi activists continued to face harassment and detention during the year. As the occupying force in Western Sahara, Morocco controls local elections and works to ensure that pro-independence leaders are excluded from both the local political process and the Moroccan Parliament. Reports of corruption are widespread. The territory possesses extensive natural resources, including phosphate, iron-ore deposits, hydrocarbon reserves, and fisheries. Nevertheless, the local population remains largely impoverished.
Morocco steadfastly refuses to negotiate with the representatives of the people of Western Sahara on the terms of a referendum that would include an option for an independent state. It has not only settled and occupied the entire Western Sahara territory. It insists that the entire territory belongs to and is under the legal sovereignty of Morocco, despite UN resolutions and an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice to the contrary.
Israel, on the other hand, is prepared to negotiate the terms of a two-state solution with the Palestinians so long as it is truly a two-state solution in which the Israeli state can remain a secure Jewish nation.
Morocco's hypocrisy is just the latest example when it comes to condemnations of Israel from countries whose human rights records are so much worse. Morocco now has an Islamist government. Expect Morocco to take the lead in the Security Council, along with Pakistan, in continuing to push the Palestinians' agenda to delegitimize Israel.
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