A UNilateral Blunder
By Tali Shapiro at Jan 19, 2009
I admit, I'm no expert when it comes to the UN, so I'm hoping some of you at ZNet can fill in my knowledge gaps. Nevertheless, it seems to me that in the case of Gaza, the UN fucked up royally. Let's review what I saw (then maybe you can tell me what I missed):
When the attack on Gaza started, by the second day, the bodies were already piling up. When I started hearing numbers, seeing images, I asked myself, where's the UN?! The answer to this, actually came from the Israeli mainstream media:
By the second day "the objectives" of the onslaught were still none-existent. The general rhetoric was "we have to hurry up [and do as much damage as possible], before the UN reconvenes."
"Reconvenes?" I naively ask my mom, sitting next to me, "Where did they go?"
My mom reminded me that it's Christmas. So they're all having a lovely Christmas vacation and won't reconvene until Monday, the following week. Now, I respect the whole Idea of holidays and vacations and family quality time, but people were in immediate danger, dying in alarming (to say the least) numbers. Doesn't this qualify as an emergency? Doesn't this qualify immediate sanctions? Something? Anything?!
As the massacres raged through the devastated streets of Gaza, the UN was occupying itself with what I can only excuse as "procedure". Meetings, votes, consultations, writing up reports, I'm sure all these things need to be done, in order to get to a quick and efficient solution but all this took 2 weeks. For the Gazans this would mean another 1000 lives.
After the Security Council passed a resolution calling for unimpeded provision throughout Gaza of food, fuel and medical treatment, as well as intensified international arrangements to prevent arms and ammunition smuggling, Israeli blatantly ignored the UN and continued the onslaught with a monstrous vengeance, amplifying an average of 50 deaths a day to a 100. No sanctions from the UN.
My final disdain for the UN emerged yesterday, when the world leaders came to visit Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem. I understand the need for diplomacy, but this was practically a love fest (as shown to the left). This winter of love was summed up by Sarkozy, practically quoting Olmert's lofty statement (which- from Olmert- sounds like the promise of a long continuation of the occupation):
"Israel should state immediately and clearly that if rocket fire will stop, the Israeli army will leave Gaza. There is no other solution to achieve peace..."
Sarkozy also voiced, quite clearly, the disturbing consensus in the Gaza summit at Sharm el-Sheikh:
"We have pledged to help Israel and Egypt with all the technical, military, naval and diplomatic ways to help end the smuggling of weapons into Gaza."
Needless to say, leaders of the Palestinian people (yes, Hamas), weren't present, when decisions about their future were being made, unilaterally.
Update (20/01/09): Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations visited Gaza. I got the following off of Al-Jazeera:
"...while offering to do "all [he] can as secretary-general of the UN to help in this time of need", Ban is not expected to meet Hamas officials during this visit.
Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said because much of the international community, including the US and the European Union, regard Hamas as a "terrorist organisation", it would be political difficult for the UN chief to hold direct talks with Hamas officials."