Palestine has been lost through decades of waiting, while the UN sets the scene to aid Israel’s colonial plunder. Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, now dissociated from his tenure, penned an op-ed for the Financial Times which was published in the aftermath of Israel’s most recent bombing of Gaza. “It is time to acknowledge that the longstanding approach taken to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the international community has failed and a new one is required,” he wrote. Better late than never, you might think.
However, less clear throughout the article is the international community’s culpability in rendering a solution to the “conflict” impossible. It is not hindsight that made the former UN official realise the failure of the Oslo Accords, but decades of persisting in diplomatic engagement in favour of colonialism. There is a clear trajectory of dispossession which the UN consistently ignored, hence the blind adherence to Oslo and the two-state compromise. Does Ban really expect to be taken seriously when he states that “Israel’s intent to maintain its structural domination and oppression of the Palestinian people through indefinite occupation” has only become clear recently? Zionist ideology has clearly stipulated the concept of “greater Israel” since before the 1948 Nakba.
A mere overview of the more recent Israeli violations, including the move towards de-facto annexation, have historical precedents. In all of them, Israel’s main accomplice has been, and remains, the UN.
The op-ed would have read differently had Ban contextualised the resulting apartheid in colonised Palestine against a backdrop of UN concessions to Israel. What Palestinians are reaping now is a direct result of the international conspiracy which facilitated the implementation of the 1947 Partition Plan. What has happened since the Nakba must be traced back to the UN involvement, which is one of the root causes which the institution does not want to address.
It is only the “political cover provided by successive US governments” which the op-ed criticises, with no mention of how the UN needs the US to maintain a role which not only strengthens Israel, but also diverts attention away from the institution’s anti-human rights agenda. Furthermore, the former secretary-general utilises US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s rhetoric of equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis in the vaguest manner.
For all the recommendations put forth by Ban, the rhetoric will not be matched by action. The international community only involves itself with maintaining Israel’s colonisation of Palestine; it stays aloof when faced with the growing Palestinian discontent against Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, for example. Ban knows that the UN is engaged in a political compromise with Israel, and that nothing has changed in that regard since his time in office, but the op-ed offers no introspection in that regard.
The bottom line of Ban’s writing is not what the international community should do, but what Palestinians should subject themselves to in terms of the UN’s actions. This is a travesty which Palestinians have endured for decades. In the entire article there is no mention of Palestinian autonomy or independence, so what is the moment of change which Ban is aspiring to, knowing full well that the status quo is set to be reinforced for Israel’s benefit rather than remoulded?