Published on Friday, October 6, 2000 by InterPress Service
Palestinian Demand to Probe Killings May Be Vetoed
by Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 5 - The widespread belief among Third
is that the five permanent members of the Security Council - the
Britain, France, China and Russia - are not the only ones wielding
at the United Nations.
Lurking behind the United States is a sixth UN member state, which for the last 50 years, has indirectly - and meticulously - exercised its own brand of veto through a proxy.
''Whenever the US vetoes a Security Council resolution critical of Israel,'' says one Arab diplomat, ''we always see the hidden hand of the Israelis.''
The resolution, which is expected to be taken up later this week, faces a possible US veto because Israel has made it clear it will not permit any international investigation into the shootings.
The proposed investigation is also one of the demands made by Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat Wednesday at the Paris talks involving Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Arafat has also demanded an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the West Bank and Gaza.
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke of the United States has argued that the first priority must be to stop the violence. ''Now was not the time to apportion blame,'' he told the Council.
''Too often in the past, positions taken by this Council, and by the UN itself, had tarnished the Organisation's credibility and undermined its ability to play a constructive role in the peace process,'' he said.
The US argument is also that any attempts to probe the killings will undermine the ongoing peace process in the Middle East.
A Third World diplomat told IPS that he could not understand why the United States should oppose such a probe when it has supported several such investigations, including visits by members of the Security Council, into some of the trouble spots in Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.
If, however, the resolution is vetoed by the United States, there is a strong likelihood that NAM will call for a special session of the UN Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Geneva to probe the use of deadly force by the Israelis. Two similar special sessions were held earlier in Geneva to investigate human rights violations in East Timor and in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Addressing a meeting of the Security Council Wednesday, the UN Permanent Observer for Palestine Nasser al-Kidwa said the way in which Israel had reacted to the Palestinian protest was no surprise.
''They had used large amounts of military power, snipers, live ammunition, hand grenades, anti-tank missiles and helicopter gun-ships, moving battle tanks to Palestinian towns,'' he said.
The Israeli army, he charged, tried to inflict great losses on the Palestinians, using unprecedented military force. Their actions were in gross violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in times of war.
''The perpetrators must be brought to trial and punished,'' he added.
He also asked the Security Council to put an end to ''the brutal campaign of Israel and its violation of international law, Council resolutions and the peace accords''.
Ambassador Jean-David Levitte of France said the events of recent days were the result of ''a deliberate provocation'' carried out by rightist leader Ariel Sharon.
France, he said, condemned his actions and deplored the violence that grew out of his visit to the area of the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. That visit, he said, was done for reasons of domestic politics.
Ambassador Hasmy Agam of Malaysia, who is the primary sponsor of the NAM resolution, said the world would never forget the image of the 12- year-old child being shot and killed in the arms of his father.
Their fates summed up the plight of the Palestinians living in the occupied Arab territories: that of vulnerable people who were, from time to time, caught haplessly in situations of violence and subjected to the draconian policies and practices of the army of an occupying power.
Malaysia also reaffirms the establishment of an independent state of Palestine, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif, as its capital, along with the implementation of all international resolutions on the Palestinian issue, he added. These were the only guarantees for lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, he noted.
Copyright 2000 IPS