Article published by Ynetnews.com, 25 October 2023. © Richard Kemp
Secretary General Antonio Guterres has dragged the UN down to a new low with his disgraceful justification of the Hamas slaughter, rape and torture of innocent Israelis. Before all of the bodies have even been identified, so vicious was the violence against them, and while 220 distressed and abused hostages remain imprisoned in the Gaza Strip, Guterres was blaming Israel in front of the UN Security Council. Not only is this deeply unworthy of a body that is dedicated to peace and truth, it also follows Hamas’s own agenda.
Guterres told the council that Hamas’s attacks did not happen in a vacuum. He is right. It happened against the backdrop of decades of justification and encouragement of Palestinian terrorism by the UN, western media, human rights groups, politicians and universities that consistently condemned Israel for resisting violence against its citizens. Led by the UN Human Rights Council a narrative of anti-Israel hate was built up that tied Israel’s hands and emboldened Hamas and other terrorist groups.
But according to Guterres’s false account, ‘the Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation’. In the face of the worst assault on Jewish people since the Nazi death camps, his remarks are akin to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attributing blame for the Holocaust to the conduct of the Jews themselves.
Guterres’s ‘suffocating occupation’ dates back to 1967 when, as a result of a war of aggression by Arab countries, Israel regained territory that it had lost in an earlier war of aggression in 1948. Under the uti possidetis juris principle of customary international law, the State of Israel inherited the boundaries of the previous sovereign, which was Great Britain. While the territories have been disputed, no state other than Israel has lawful sovereignty and so Israel cannot be an ‘occupier’ in its own land which includes Judea and Samaria and Gaza. That remains the case unless and until Israel agrees to relinquish sovereignty following negotiations.
Furthermore, the vast majority of the territory that Guterres wrongly claims to be occupied has been repeatedly offered by Israel to the Palestinians for their own state. Every offer has been rejected by Palestinian leadership that, despite words intended for international consumption, clearly does not want its own state. Instead it wants an end to the Jewish state.
Any and all Israeli security control measures over Judea and Samaria and Gaza have been imposed in response to incessant Palestinian Arab aggression. Hamas terrorists have the least possible claim to have carried out their brutality from ‘stifling occupation’. Israel unilaterally left the Gaza Strip in 2005, effectively ceding it to complete Palestinian control. Immediately Hamas took over they used the territory as a base for attack on Israel, compelling the IDF, and Egypt, to impose a partial blockade to try to prevent weapons entering Gaza as well as attacks being launched from there. That is the reality of Guterres’s supposed ‘occupation’.
We know from Hamas’s founding charter and from its actions that its idea of Israel’s ‘stifling occupation’ is not just of Judea and Samaria and Gaza but the entirety of Israel ‘from the river to the sea’. Hamas does not accept a Jewish state in any boundaries. It is dedicated unequivocally to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews everywhere.
The UN Secretary General knows all of this, so why does he distort the truth to the Security Council and the world? Because he presides over a systematically anti-Israel organization that believes Israel is not a legitimate state. Giving evidence to a heavily biased UN commission of inquiry into a previous Gaza conflict I was met with undisguised hostility from UN civil servants who could not stand to hear the truth when it contradicted their agenda of delegitimisation against Israel.
I have spoken at a number of UN Human Rights Council emergency debates on Israel and listened to a never-ending litany of venomous speeches supporting twisted resolutions aimed at delegitimizing Israel. During these sessions I warned the UN’s diplomats that their twisted justification of terrorist attacks served only to encourage violence and would lead to further vicious assaults against Israeli civilians.
In a meeting I had with Guterres shortly after he took office, he claimed to recognize the bias within the UN institutional machinery and undertook to address it. Instead he has become its chief propagator.
Not only did Guterres misrepresent history and the current situation and attempt to justify Hamas’s horrific violence, he also preposterously took aim at the IDF, effectively accusing them of war crimes in their prosecution of a defensive war. He suggested they have been illegally killing innocent civilians. Yet he has been briefed on and knows only too well the reality that the IDF scrupulously adheres to the laws of armed conflict in every situation. He knows that responsibility for civilian deaths lies with Hamas who attack Israel from within their own civilian population, using them as human shields and forcing them to stay put when the IDF warns them to leave a potential target area. He knows that despite all reasonable efforts made by the IDF it is impossible to avoid civilian casualties when the enemy fights in this way.
Guterres is now part of the problem. He has become an active propagandist for Hamas. His words and his actions will help give heart to Hamas and its supporters, encouraging it to fight on knowing its message of anti-Israel hate is promoted from the very top of the world’s pre-eminent international body. More than that, his words give validity to any other violent jihadist gangs that want to terrorize any part of the world. Guterres has rendered himself unfit to lead the UN, and should resign immediately or be dismissed.