By Pat Lancaster.
The UAE has punched a significant hole in the shameful wall of official silence surrounding Israeli expansionism. At the UN in Geneva, its ambassador condemned the latest developments in Tel Aviv’s illegal settlement policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Seemingly without fear of reprisals of any kind, Israeli settlers have, in recent months, stepped up their policy of illegally demolishing Palestinian homes, rendering whole families without the most basic shelter, simply because they have the power to do so. The land is then razed and subsequently used to build new homes for Israeli settlers, in breach of international law.
While the governments of the so-called civilized world seems prepared to sit back and allow Israel to ride rough shod over the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories, without feeling the need to comment, Ambassador Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations, spoke out against the Israeli actions at the 43rdsession of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, in March.
Al Zaabi expressed his concern about the catastrophic human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian territories and the flagrant violations of international law by Israeli settlers, supported – and frequently aided – by the Israeli Army. Al Zaabi urged the UN Human Rights Council to call on the Jewish state to stop development of the illegal settlements.
Despite the fact that Israel’s inhumane – and frequently criminal – treatment of Palestinians living under occupation, which regularly involves the unauthorized demolition of Palestinian homes, illegal arrests, extended periods of incarceration and torture, the international community, for the most part, elects to remain silent on the subject.
The UAE’s decision to speak out – through its ambassador to the United Nations – has given encouragement to international activists working in support of Palestinians.
In his speech, Ambassador Al Zaabi underlined the importance of UNSC Resolution 2334, which stresses that Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Arab East Jerusalem , has no legal validity and actually constitutes a flagrant violation of international law.
Israeli actions in contravention of international law present a major obstacle to achieving a two-state solution and a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace. The UAE’s willingness to speak out against the escalation of illegal Israeli actions against the Palestinians has been widely praised by several international leading human rights groups. Chris Doyle, the director of the London-based Council for the Advancement of Arab British Understanding told The Middle East: “A tougher stance by the UAE would explode the myth Israel has been nurturing that it can still oppress, subjugate and occupy the Palestinians and still enjoy warm relations with Arab states.”
Ambassador Al Zaabi reiterated the UAE’s call for concerted international efforts to put an end to the illegal settlements policy and hopes are high that other GCC states will now follow the country’s lead.