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UN last hurdle before Israel can rid itself of the Palestinians

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Israeli and US officials are in the process of jointly pre-empting Donald Trump’s supposed “ultimate deal” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They hope to demote the Palestinian issue to a footnote in international diplomacy.

The conspiracy – a real one – was much in evidence last week during a visit to the region by Nikki Haley, Washington’s envoy to the United Nations. Her escort was Danny Danon, her Israeli counterpart and a fervent opponent of Palestinian statehood.

Danon makes Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu look moderate. He has backed Israel annexing the West Bank and ruling over Palestinians apatheid-style. Haley appears unperturbed. During a meeting with Netanyahu, she told him that the UN was “a bully to Israel”. She has warned the powerful Security Council to focus on Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah, instead of Israel.

To protect its tiny ally, Washington is threatening to cut billions in US funding to the world body, plunging it into crisis and jeopardising peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

On the way to Israel, Haley stopped at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, demanding it end its “pathological” opposition to Israel’s decades of occupation and human rights violations – or the US would pull out of the agency.

Washington has long pampered Israel, giving it millions of dollars each year to buy weapons to oppress Palestinians, and using its veto to block UN resolutions enforcing international law. Expert UN reports such as a recent one on Israel’s apartheid rule over Palestinians have been buried.

But worse is to come. Now the framework of international laws and institutions established after the Second World War is at risk of being dismembered.

That danger was highlighted on Sunday, when it emerged that Netanyahu had urged Haley to dismantle another UN agency much loathed by Israel. UNRWA cares for more than five million Palestinian refugees across the region.

Since the 1948 war, Israel has refused to allow these refugees to return to their lands, now in Israel, forcing them to live in miserable and overcrowded camps awaiting a peace deal that never arrives. These dispossessed Palestinians still depend on UNRWA for education, health care and social services.

UNRWA, Netanyahu says, “perpetuates” rather than solves their problems. He prefers that they become the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which looks after all other refugee populations.

His demand is a monumental U-turn, 70 years in the making. In fact, it was Israel that in 1948 insisted on a separate UN refugee agency for the Palestinians.

UNRWA was created to prevent the Palestinians falling under the charge of UNHCR’s forerunner, the International Refugee Organisation. Israel was afraid that the IRO, formed in the immediate wake of the Second World War, would give Palestinian refugees the same prominence as European Jews fleeing Nazi atrocities.

Israel did not want the two cases compared, especially as they were so intimately connected. It was the rise of Nazism that bolstered the Zionist case for a Jewish state in Palestine and Jewish refugees who were settled on lands from which Palestinians had just been expelled by Israel.

Also, Israel was concerned that the IRO’s commitment to the principle of repatriation might force it to accept back the Palestinian refugees.

Israel’s hope then was precisely that UNRWA would not solve the Palestinian refugee problem; rather, it would resolve itself. The idea was encapsulated in a Zionist adage: “The old will die and the young forget.”

But millions of Palestinian descendants still clamour for a right of return. If they cannot forget, Netanyahu prefers that the world forget them.

As bloody wars grip the Middle East, the best way to achieve that aim is to submerge the Palestinians among the world’s 65 million other refugees. Why worry about the Palestinian case when there are millions of Syrians newly displaced by war?

But UNRWA poses a challenge, because it is so deeply entrenched in the region and insists on a just solution for Palestinian refugees.

UNRWA’s huge staff includes 32,000 Palestinian administrators, teachers and doctors, many living in camps in the West Bank – Palestinian territory Netanyahu and Danon hunger for. The UN’s presence there is an impediment to annexation.

On Monday Netanyahu announced his determination to block Europe from funding Israeli human rights organisations, the main watchdogs in the West Bank and a key data source for UN agencies. He now refuses to meet any world leader who talks to these rights groups.

With Trump in the White House, a crisis-plagued Europe ever-more toothless and the Arab world in disarray, Netanyahu wants to seize this chance to clear the UN out of the way too.

Global institutions such as the UN and the international law it upholds were created after the Second World War to protect the weakest and prevent a recurrence of the Holocaust’s horrors.

Today, Netanyahu is prepared to risk it all, tearing down the post-war international order, if this act of colossal vandalism will finally rid him of the Palestinians.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is

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19 Responses

  1. MHughes976 on June 16, 2017, 1:41 pm

    This is a small indication of the real plan, which is indeed to force the Palestinians to disperse and lose themselves, if that’s the word, among many places and peoples – humanely, of course, with UNWRA funds becoming a worldwide resettlement fund. Mind you, the UN in all is guises, UNWRA included, has not managed to stop Israel doing very much of what it wanted to do.

  2. annie on June 16, 2017, 2:24 pm

    this is off topic. i can’t stand nikki haley’s face. her expressions just irk me to no end. it’s like this insane visceral reaction i have to photos and videos of her. why her of all people? i have no idea. but i really really hope she’s not thrust into the american political landscape in such a high profile role ever again. hopefully working for the trump administration will make her unelectable in the future.

    • Keith on June 16, 2017, 4:08 pm

      ANNIE- “i can’t stand nikki haley’s face.”

      I was hoping that she would be at least slightly better than Samantha Power because you can’t get any worse than Samantha Power. Unfortunately, Nikki has turned out to be Samantha’s twin sister from a different mother. Is there no bottom to this barrel?

    • Brewer on June 16, 2017, 11:21 pm

      I experience the same reaction. I suspect it is confirmation bias, having read of her pernicious stupidity before ever seeing the face. All I see now is dumb evil.

    • JLewisDickerson on June 17, 2017, 11:50 am

      RE: “i can’t stand nikki haley’s face. her expressions just irk me to no end.” – Annie

      MY REPLY: I agree. I was shocked to see how bedraggled she looked in that photo. To borrow from the motorcycle/biker set: “She looks like she was rode hard and put up wet!”Quite a come down from the new, pistol-packin’, stiletto high-heel wearin’, Sherriff in town that she claimed to be when she gave her speech to AIPAC.
      I get the the impression from her nonstop complaints about UN bias against Israel, that Haley believes she can dig her spurs in real deep and possibly ride her present position right on in to the White House (initially as VP).

      Oh Nikki you’re so fine you’re so fine you blow my mind!
      Hey, Nikki hey, hey, hey Nikki

      You’ve been around all night and that’s a little long
      You think you’ve got the right and I think you got it wrong
      Why don’t you say goodnight, so you can take me home Nikki
      ‘Cause when you say you will it always means you won’t

      You’re givin me the chills baby, please baby don’t
      Every night you still leave me all alone Nikki!
      Oh Nikki what a pity you don’t understand
      You take me by the heart when you take me by the hand

      Oh Nikki you’re so pretty can’t you understand
      It’s gals like you Nikki
      Oh watcha ya do Nikki do Nikki don’t break my heart Nikki!
      Hey Nikki!

      Now when you take me by the hand who’s ever gonna know
      Everytime ya move I let a little more show
      That’s somethin’ we can use
      So don’t say no Nikki!

      So come on and give it to me any way you can
      Any way you want to do it I’ll take it like a man
      Oh please baby please baby
      Don’t leave me Nikki!

      Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – Pistol Packin’ Mama 1943

      • annie on June 17, 2017, 12:06 pm

        I get the the impression from her nonstop complaints about UN bias against Israel, that Haley believes she can dig her spurs in real deep and possibly ride her present position right on in to the White House (initially as VP).

        yeah, you and me both. what a horrendously frightening thought. god help us if that ever comes to pass.

      • JLewisDickerson on June 17, 2017, 12:54 pm

        Al Dexter & his troopers – Pistol Packin’ Mama

      • JLewisDickerson on June 20, 2017, 4:29 pm

        Thinking about “rode hard and put up wet” last night, I realized that although I might have heard it used by motorcycle/biker types, it obviously refers to a horse having “ben rode hard and put up/away wet” because horses sweat like crazy (motorcycles not so much) and if you let the sweat-saturated coat dry without rinsing off the sweat, the horse really looks nasty.

        ridden hard and put away wet
        Alternative forms
        rode hard and put up wet
        From the inadvisable practice of riding a horse, and then stabling it while it is still coated in sweat, rather than brushing and grooming it properly afterwards.

        ridden hard and put away wet

        (idiomatic) Mistreated; not properly cared for.
        Usage notes
        Used as a past participle.
        See also
        driven hard and put away smoking

        She’s been rode hard and put up wet
        Discussion in ‘English Only’ started by ribran, Dec 1, 2011.

        There is a very Southern expression that can be used of a rough-looking woman, a woman who has obviously had a tough life; it is “She’s been rode hard and put up wet.” I doubt it is regularly used outside the South, so what I would like to know is whether it would be understood where you live.

        ribran, Dec 1, 2011

        I’ve worked as a racehorse “hot-walker” and groom in the past, so I can tell you exactly what is meant by being “put up wet.” Just like human athletes, horses that have had a hard workout and are all sweaty need to be walked slowly and have a cooling down period. To properly care for a horse that comes back to the barn wet with sweat, he/she needs to be untacked (saddle removed) and walked for about a half hour on a lead rope, or until the sweat has dried–which is why busy trainers hire people to walk their horses. Once the horse is cool, he/she can be brushed and put up in the stall. Failure to do this will cause stiff muscles and lameness. So the exact meaning of the phrase, as it pertains to horsemanship, is to work your horse really hard and not take time to care for it afterward. For a human, it means you’re in pretty rough shape.
        AnitaClare, Mar 12, 2013 #16
        Senior Member
        Massachusetts, U.S.
        English – U.S.

        P.S. Nikki Haley reminds me a bit of Rock Hudson’s “butch” sister in Giant (played by Mercedes McCambridge) who had been accustomed to “ruling the roost”, and therefore had a difficult time adjusting to an elite Eastern woman calling the shots. Especially one that preferred to “ride English” using one of those silly little saddles. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, she sometimes liked to ride sidesaddle. In Texas, for God’s sake! And, not just in Texas, but in West Texas! ! !

    • Susan A on June 17, 2017, 2:17 pm

      Annie: she always reminds me of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz, so that’s what I call her: it helps me, if only slightly!

    • Steve Grover on June 17, 2017, 4:37 pm

      Yesterday I made a favorable comment about Nikki Haley I also pointed out that I’m not a Trump supporter. The comment was deleted. I guess I must have violated Mondoweiss commenting policy with this type of comment.

      • Mooser on June 18, 2017, 12:24 pm

        “Yesterday I made a favorable comment”

        “Steve” there is a button at the button at the bottom below the comment box which says “Post Comment”.
        You must push that button every time.
        Try again, and click “Post Comment”.

  3. lonely rico on June 16, 2017, 8:17 pm

    Also off topic.
    At Counterpunch today learned of the passing of Norman Pollack, a fierce and articulate critic of Israel and the crimes committed against the Palestinians.

    Joshua Frank’s piece on this passionate voice for social justice –

  4. JosephA on June 16, 2017, 11:36 pm

    Thank you for the history lesson, I learned a bit from reading this article.

  5. Ossinev on June 17, 2017, 6:55 am

    @lonely rico

    Thanks for the link to the Counterpunch article on Norman Pollack:

    “Israelis do not concede the humanity of their victims, and perhaps do not even see them as victims but mere objects to be pushed around and, as a useful object lesson to them, swept aside, their houses bulldozed, their land taken away, the science of humiliation raised to a fine art.”

    What a striking and chilling description of what Israelis have become. It mirrors the words of George Bernard Shaw:

    “The worst sin against our fellow human beings is not to hate them but to be indifferent toward them;that is the essence of man`s inhumanity to man”

  6. James Canning on June 17, 2017, 1:09 pm

    Perhaps Nikki Haley should tell us what she thinks Israel should do with the millions of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank.

    • DavidDaoud on June 19, 2017, 6:47 am

      People like me who have spent time in the West Bank and who have never lost contact with friends there think about this a lot lately. The worst of Israeli leaders see the Trump administration years as the chance they’ve been waiting for to resolve the Palestinian issue once and for all.

  7. Ossinev on June 17, 2017, 4:51 pm

    @James Canning
    “Perhaps Nikki Haley should tell us what she thinks Israel should do with the millions of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank”

    Simples. Transport all of them to Jordan and Lebanon ( Syria sadly for Zioland and the U.S. is temporarily not a Nakba 2 destination option ) to join all the other Palestinian refugees expelled there in 1948. The U.S. in a profound humanitarian role can use their taxpayer dollars to fund dedicated railway lines and of course unlike in a previous historically well documented scenario the trains would not be livestock transporters as such and would have seats , a minimum of toilets and windows to allow the occupants to breathe. Oh wait a minute just thought of some problems 1) the Palestinians will refuse to board the trains and will resist = bad headlines and horror of horrors multiple Chosen People casualties 2) the Lebanese will see it as an act of war and they (ie Hezbollah) will fight back and we all know that the Zios really got their cute little fingers severely burnt when they last took on Hezbollah 3) Jordan is the only real ally which the U.S. has in the Levant . They will treat it as an act of war will refuse to host and will fight back.4) the est 2 billion Muslims in the world will take a dim view of their co-religionists being rounded up and treated like cattle by Israeli Jews supported by America and the rest can only be imagined.

    So it`s back to the drawing board Nikki and in the absence of a single equal rights for all state the only real option is a full frontal in the world`s face Apartheid Bantustan arrangement ( South Africa Mark 2 ) and the civilised world of which Madame Haley claims to be a representative won`t really like that will they ?

    Sooner or later one can only hope that Mme Haley having floated her ” UN Anti – Israel bias ” boat will be directly challenged on this by a respected interviewer and will flunk the response – well she is a Zionist flunkey is she not.

    Tick tick.

    • DavidDaoud on June 19, 2017, 6:58 am

      @ Ossinev, thank you for your creative and interesting comment. I enjoyed reading it.

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