Israel, Palestinians, and the United Nations

Israel, Palestinians, and the United Nations

Issues relating to the state of Israel, the Palestinian people and other aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict occupy a large amount of debate time, resolutions and resources at the spinout/link|United Nations.

The adoption of UNSCOP's recommendation to partition Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947 [ [Dynamics of Self-determination in Palestine, P. J. I. M. de Waart, BRILL, 1994, p.121] ] was one of the earliest decisions of the UN. Since then, it maintained a central role in this region, especially by providing support for Palestinian refugees via the UNRWA and by providing a platform for Palestinian political claims via the CEIRPP, the UNDPR, the SCIIP, the UNISPAL and the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The UN has sponsored several peace negotiations between the parties, the latest being the 2002 Road map for peace.

In recent years, the Middle East was the subject of 76% of country-specific UNGA resolutions, 100% of the Human Rights Council resolutions, 100% of the Commission on the Status of Women resolutions, 50% of reports from the World Food Program, 6% of Security Council resolutions and 6 of the 10 Emergency sessions. Of note is Resolution 3379 (1975) stating that "zionism is racism"; it was rescinded in 1991. These decisions, passed with the support of the OIC countries, invariably criticize Israel for her treatment of Palestinians. Many have qualified this degree of criticism as excessive. In particular, the UNHRC was widely criticized in 2007 for failing to condemn other human rights abusers besides Israel.

The United States has been criticized as well as supported for vetoing most UNSC decisions critical of Israel on the basis of their biased language, the so-called Negroponte doctrine.

Since 1961, Israel has been barred from the Asia regional group. In 2000, she was accepted within the WEOG group. The UNRWA has been accused of perpetuating the plight of Palestinian refugees. Although the UN condemns antisemitism, it has be accused of tolerating antisemitic remarks within its walls. Some argue that disproportional criticism of Israel constitutes a new form of antisemitism. UN personnel have been accused of participating directly in the armed conflict on several occasions.


Historical overview

The early years

The idea of a Jewish national home in Palestine received its first international support within the 1922 text of the creation of the British mandate of Palestine by the League of nations. In it,

The Mandatory (…) will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion. [League of Nations Palestine Mandate, July 24, 1922,]

The UNSCOP was mandated to the region in 1947 by the newly-created United Nations. In its final report, the Commission recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state and a UN-controlled territory ("Corpus separatum") around Jerusalem [UNTIED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PALESTINE; REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, A/364, 3 September 1947] This partition plan was adopted on November 29th, 1947 with UN GA Resolution 181, 33 votes in favor, 13 against, and 10 abstentions. The vote itself, which required a two-third majority, was a very dramatic affair and led to celebrations in the streets of Jewish cities [ [ Three minutes, 2000 years] , Video from the Jewish Agency for Israel, via YouTube] . It also led to anti-Jewish riots in Arab countries, especially Syria [cite web|title = Country narratives -- Syria| publisher = Justice for Jews from Arab countries| date = unknown| url =| accessdate = 2008-09-09] and Yemen. [cite web|title = Country narratives -- Yemen (& Aden)| publisher = Justice for Jews from Arab countries| date = unknown| url =| accessdate = 2008-09-09] [cite web| last = Bostom| first = Andrew| title = Recognition for the Silent Jewish Refugees| publisher = American Thinker| date = 2007-07-19| url =| accessdate = 2008-09-09]

Resolution 181 laid a foundation within international law and diplomacy [ [ Palestinian-Israeli crossfire 181 - A Palestinain view - The first milestone, Ghassan Khatib] ] for the creation of the state of Israel; as it was the first formal recognition by an international body of the legitimacy of a Jewish state, to exist within a partition of the territory along with an Arab state. Israel's declaration of independence soon followed on May 14th 1948, the Nakba Day for Palestinians.

Resolution 181 also laid the foundation for the creation of an Arab state but its neighbour states and the Arab League, who rejected all attempts at the creation of a Jewish state, rejected the plan. In a statement from the Arab League on May 15th 1948,

When the General Assembly of the United Nations issued, on 29 November 1947, its recommendation (...), the Arab States drew attention to the injustice implied in this solution (affecting) the right of the people of Palestine to immediate independence (...). (These States also) declared the Arabs' rejection of (that solution) and that it would not be possible to carry it out by peaceful means, and that its forcible imposition would constitute a threat to peace and security in this area. The warnings and expectations of the Arab States have, indeed, proved to be true, as disturbances were soon widespread throughout Palestine. The Arabs clashed with the Jews, and the two (parties) proceeded to fight each other and shed each other's blood. Whereupon, the United Nations began to realize the danger of recommending the partition (of Palestine) and is still looking for a way out of this state of affairs. ["Statement by the Arab League States Following the Establishment of the State of Israel" (May 15, 1948),]

The same day, five Arab states invaded and rapidly occupied much of the Arab portion of the partition plan. This war changed the dynamic of the region, transforming a two-state plan into a war between Israel and the Arab world. During this 1948 Arab-Israeli War, resolution 194 reiterated the UN's claim on Jerusalem and resolved in paragraph 11:

that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.

This resolution, accepted immediately by Israel, is the major legal foundation of the Palestinian right of return claim, a major point in peace negotiations. Resolution 194 also called for the creation of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine. The Arab states initially opposed this resolution, but within a few months, began to change their position, and became the strongest advocates of its refugee and territorial provisions. [cite book | author=Khouri, Fred | title=The Arab-Israeli Dilemma (3rd edition) | publisher=Syracuse University Press | year=1985 |pages = 129-130 | id=ISBN 0815623402]

Folke Bernadotte was appointed the UN mediator in Palestine, the first official mediator in UN history. He succeeded in achieving a truce in May-June 1948 during which the British evacuated Palestine. He proposed two alternate partition plans, the second calling for a reduction in the size of the Jewish state and loss of sovereignty over the harbour city of Haifa. Both were rejected. The Zionist group Lehi assassinated him and his aide, UN observer Colonel André Serot on September 17, 1948.

Bernadotte was succeeded by Ralph Bunche, who was successful in bringing about the signing of the 1949 Armistice Agreements, for which he would later receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the aftermath of the 1948 war, and conditional on Israel’s acceptance and implementation of resolutions 181 and 194, the UN General Assembly voted, with the May 11th 1949 Resolution 273 (III), to admit Israel to UN membership as a "peace-loving country". This resolution reiterated the demands for UN control over Jerusalem and for the return of Palestinian refugees.

The vote for resolution 273 was held during the five month long Lausanne conference, organized by the UN to reconcile the parties. This conference was largely a failure but was noteworthy as the first proposal by Israel to establish the 1949 armistice line between the Israeli and Arab armies, the so-called green line, as the border of the Jewish state. This line has acquired an after-the-fact international sanction. [cite web| last = Twersky| first = David| title = The Assault on Israel's 1967 Border| publisher = New York Sun| date = 2006-07-14| url =| accessdate = 2008-07-08] [cite web| last = Newman| first = David| title = A Green Line in the Sand| publisher = New York Times| date = 2007-01-09| url =| accessdate = 2008-07-08] [cite web| last = anonymous| title = Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory| publisher = International court of Justice| date = 2004-07-09| url =!OpenDocument| accessdate = 2008-07-08]

Following the failure at Lausanne to settle the problem of the Arab refugees, the UNRWA was created with the December 1949 resolution 302 (IV)) to provide humanitarian aid to this group. Israel voted in favor. No aid was to be provided to the Jews who were displaced during the same war, nor to the millions of Jewish refugees from European and Arab countries who were already pouring into the Jewish state.

The Conciliation Commission for Palestine published its report in October 1950 [GENERAL PROGRESS REPORT AND SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR PALESTINE, Covering the period from 11 December 1949 to 23 October 1950, GA A/1367/Rev.1 23 October 1950] . It is noteworthy as the source of the official number of Palestinian Arab refugees (711,000). It again reiterated the demands for UN control over Jerusalem and for the return of Palestinian refugees.

1950 to 1970

After the failure of early attempts at resolution, and until 1967, discussion of Israel and Palestine was not as prominent at the UN. Exceptions included border incidents like the Qibya massacre, the passage of Security Council Resolution 95 supporting Israel's position over Egypt's on usage of the Suez Canal, and most prominently the 1956 Suez Crisis which caused extended Security Council and General Assembly debate and the creation of the first UN peacekeeping force, the UNEF. During most of this period, the Soviet veto prevented the passage of a number of Security Council draft resolutions criticizing actions by Arab states and forces against Israel.

In 1961, the regional groups were created at the UN. From the onset, Arab countries blocked the entry of Israel to the Asia group. See below.

After months of debate in the Security Council and General Assembly before, during and after the 1967 Six-day war, [cite book |author=Lall, Arthur S. |title=The UN and the Middle East Crisis, 1967 |publisher=Columbia University Press |location= |year=1970 |isbn=0-231-08635-0] , United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 was passed. It became a universally accepted basis for Arab-Israeli and later, Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. In it, the Land for peace principle was spelled out. This resolution is one of the most discussed, both within and outside of the UN.

November 1967, Gunnar Jarring was appointed as the UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process. The so-called Jarring Mission was unsuccessful.

The Six-day war generated a new wave of Palestinian refugees who could not be included in the original UNRWA definition. Since 1991, the GA adopts a yearly resolution allowing the 1967 refugees within the UNRWA mandate.

In 1968, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People was created to investigate Jewish settlements on Palestinian territories. It generates yearly GA resolutions and other documents.

1970 to 1990

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict gained prominence following the emergence of Palestinian armed groups, especially the Palestine Liberation Organization and the increased political strength of the Arab group as the main suppliers of petroleum to the Western world. At the UN, the Arab group also gained the support of the Eastern bloc against Israel allied to the US.

In rapid succession, several events brought the Palestinian struggle to the forefront: the 1972 Munich massacre, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the ensuing 1973 oil crisis and, in 1975, the beginning of the Lebanese civil war.

The Geneva Conference of 1973 was an attempt to negotiate a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. No comprehensive agreement was reached, and attempts in later years to revive the Conference failed.

On 13 November 1974, Yasser Arafat became the first representative of an entity other than a member state to address the General Assembly. In 1975, the PLO was granted permanent observer status at the UNGA.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was created in 1975 and of the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights in 1977. Also in 1977, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was first celebrated on November 29th, the anniversary of resolution 181.

Starting in 1974, Palestinian territories were named “Occupied Arab Territories” in UN documents. In 1982, the phrase "Occupied Palestinian Territories" became the usual name. This phrase was not used at the UN prior to 1967, when the same territories were under military occupation by Jordan and Egypt.

The 1975 resolution 3379 determined “that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It was sponsored by 25 Arab states; 72 voted for, 35 voted against and 32 abstained. It was revoked 16 years later by resolution 4686 as a precondition for the participation of Israel to the Madrid Conference.

The 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty [Treaty of Peace between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Israel, 26 March 1979,] was a landmark event. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is credited for initiating the process, following the failure of the UN-mediated peace negotiations, notably the Geneva Conference. The secret negotiations at Camp David in 1978 between Sadat, Menahem Begin and Jimmy Carter, and the treaty itself essentially bypassed UN-approved channels. The Camp David Accords (but not the Treaty itself) touch on the issue of Palestinian statehood:

Egypt, Israel, and Jordan will agree on the modalities for establishing elected self-governing authority in the West Bank and Gaza. (...) Egypt and Israel will work with each other and with other interested parties to establish agreed procedures for a prompt, just and permanent implementation of the resolution of the refugee problem. [The Camp David Accords, The Framework for Peace in the Middle East, September 17 1978,]

The UN was critical of the accords. UNGA Resolution 34/65 (1979):

3.strongly condems all partial agreements and separate treaties which constitute a flagrant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people (...);4. Declares that the Camp David accords and other agreements have no validity insofar as they purport to determine the future of the Palestinian people and of the Palestininan territories occupied by Israel since 1967.
In protest, the UNGA did not renew the peace-keeping force in the Sinai peninsula, the [ UNEF II] , despite requests by the US, Egypt and Israel, as stipulated in the treaty. To honor the treaty despite the UN’s refusal, the Multinational Force and Observers was created. To this day, the MFO operates independently of the UN. For this peace treaty, Egypt was expelled from the Arab League for a period of ten years.

Between 1980 and 1988, Muslim states made yearly attempts to [ expel Israel] from the UN GA. For example, the credentials committee received in 1985 a letter (document [!OpenDocument a/40/752] ), signed by 34 Muslim states and the USSR. These attempts were unsuccessful.

Following the perception that their struggle was ignored by other Arab countries and the UN, the Palestinians started in 1987 the First Intifada.

1990 to today

Following the 1993 Oslo peace accords between Israel and the PLO, followed in 1994 by the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace, the language of yearly GA resolutions was modified to reduce criticism of Israeli actions. " Moreover, between 1993 and 1995 the Security Council never directly condemned Israel. During this period, the Security Council also denounced terrorism against Israel for the first time. The most central resolution passed during this warming trend toward Israel came on December 14, 1993 when 155 member states endorsed the Israel-Palestinian and the Israel-Jordan agreements and granted "full support for the achievements of the peace process so far." This resolution was the first U.N. call for Middle East peace that did not criticize Israel. In fact, many viewed this improvement between Israel and the international community as actual U.N. support for some Israeli government policies. In October 1993, for the first time since 1981, the Arab members of the U.N. did not challenge Israel’s seat at the GA." ["Anti-Israel Bias at the U.N.", September 2004, available online at [] ]

The Palestinian National Council adopted in Algiers in 1988 the declaration of independence of the State of Palestine. The UN has not officially recognized this state but, by renaming the PLO observer as the Palestine observer (resolution 43/177.), can be seen as having done so unofficially. In July 1998, the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/250 conferring upon Palestine additional rights and privileges, including the right to participate in the general debate held at the start of each session of the GA, the right of reply, the right to co-sponsor resolutions and the right to raise points of order on Palestinian and Middle East issues.

The year 2000 saw the failure of the Camp David peace negotiations and the beginning of the second intifada.

During the World Conference against Racism held in Durban in 2001, the “zionism is racism” accusation resurfaced. In 2003, the Israeli West Bank barrier became another subject of criticism. It was declared illegal by both the GA (resolution ES-10/13) and the International Court of Justice. The ICJ clarified that it is the location of the barrier, outside of the green line, that violates international law.

A series of terrorist attacks in March 2002 prompted Israel to conduct Operation Defensive Shield. The fiercest episode was the battle of Jenin, where 75 died (23 IDF soldiers, 38 armed and 14 unarmed Palestinians) and 10% of the buildings destroyed. The UN send a first visiting mission. A separate fact-finding mission was mandated by the UNSC but blocked by Israel, a moved condemned with GA resolution 10/10 (May 2002). This mission was replaced by a report [Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/10, Tenth emergency special session, Agenda item 5, August 1 2002, [] ] which was widely commented in the media. Many observers noted that the UN dropped the accusations of made by Palestinians during and soon after the battle, and reproduced in the annex 1 of the report. "see also Battle of Jenin #Allegations of a massacre"

In 2003, Israel sought to gain support for a resolution of its own, the first it had introduced since 1976. The resolution called for the protection of Israeli children from terrorism. The resolution was worded to be very similar to GA resolution 58/155 (22 Dec 2003) tittled " Situation of and assistance to Palestinian children". "Israel withdrew the draft after a group of nations belonging to the Non-Aligned Movement, led by Egypt, insisted on including amendments that would have transformed the document into an anti-Israel resolution. The changes demanded were the altering all of all references to "Israeli children" to read "Middle Eastern children," and the insertion of harsh condemnation of Israeli "military assaults," "occupation" and "excessive use of force" before any mention of Arab terrorism." ["What is the evidence that the United Nations is biased against Israel?",] The draft was withdrawn and never came to vote.

The Israel's Representative was elected in 2005 to the symbolic position of Vice-President of the 60th UN General Assembly.

The Road map for peace is, since 2002, the latest and current effort by the UN to negotiate peace in the region. This [ document] was initially proposed by US president George W. Bush and sponsored by a quartet of the USA, Russia, the European Union and the UN. The official text is in the form of a letter to the Security Council, not a GA or SC resolution. It generated a series of encouraging changes : the sidelining of Yasser Arafat and the unilateral withdrawal of Jewish settlers and the Israeli forces from occupied territories, notably the Gaza strip. Progress is now stalled.

On December 11th 2007, the GA adopted a resolution on agricultural technology for development ( [ A/C.2/62/L.23/Rev.2] ) sponsored by Israel ["Israel gets rare UN approval for farm resolution", By Patrick Worsnip, Reuters, Tue 11 Dec 2007, [] ] . The Arab group proposed a series of amendments referring to the Palestinian occupied territories, but these amendments were rejected. The Tunisian representative said : "The Arab Group was convinced that Israel was neither interested in agriculture nor the peace process" ["Second Committee approves text calling on member states to step up promotion of agricultural technology for development", draft A/C.2/62/L.23/Rev.2, [] ] . This group demanded a vote on the resolution, an unusual demand for this kind of country-neutral resolution. "The representative of the United States (...) expressed disappointment with the request for a recorded vote because that could send a signal that there was no consensus on the issues at stake, which was not the case. The United States was saddened by the inappropriate injection into the agenda item of irrelevant political considerations, characterized by inflammatory remarks that devalued the importance of the United Nations agenda" [idem] . The resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 118 in favour to none against, with 29 abstentions. The abstentions were mainly from the Arab Group, with the notable exception of Pakistan which voted in favour [Record of vote, [] ] .

Current situation

In 2007, the countries actively involved in the Israeli-Arab conflict and hosts of Palestinian refugees (Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria), which represents 2% of the 192 member states and 0.5% of the world's population, were the subject of 76% of country-specific GA resolutions ["UN Body : General Assembly » Year : 2007 » State : All » Report : Resolution", database search from [] ] , 36% of resolutions from the Human Rights Council ["UN Body : Human Rights Council » Year : 2007 » State : All » Report : Resolution", database search from [] ] and 7% of the Security Council resolutions. ["UN Body : Security Council (SC) » Year : 2007 » State : All » Report : Resolution", database search from [] ] "For details, see the List of United Nations resolutions concerning Israel."

The automatic majority enjoyed by the pro-Palestinian resolutions is described as such:

Tal Becker, legal advisor to Israel's permanent mission to the UN, visualizes this anti-Israel voting bloc as a series of "concentric circles." The smallest of the circles is the core of twenty Arab nations that constitute what is known as the "Arab group” which initiates the harshest condemnations of Israel. These countries are part of the larger fifty-six-member "Moslem group", all of whom can be counted on to consistently support anti-Israel resolutions. These fifty-six nations represent part of the Non-Aligned group of 115 largely third-world nations that formed during the Cold War and generally have voted as a group independent of Soviet or U.S. influence. And an even larger circle, considered the standard lineup against Israel, is composed of the 133 members of the G-77, which includes all of the developing countries. ["THE UN'S OUTCAST: WHY IS ISRAEL TREATED DIFFERENTLY THAN ALL OTHER NATIONS?", by Allison Kaplan Sommer, published online by the [ Alabama Friends of Israel] ]

A few countries have consistently supported Israel's actions in the UN, such as the United States of America and the states of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, both of which are associated states of the U.S. Recently Australia, under the leadership of John Howard, and Canada, under the leadership of Stephen Harper, have also supported Israel at the UN.

Many European countries usually adopt a neutral stance, abstaining from the ongoing condemnations of Israel and supporting the foundation of a Palestinian state. Such countries include France, Russia, and Germany.

pecific issues

Regional Groups

The United Nations Regional Groups were created in 1961. From the onset, the majority enjoyed by Arab countries within the Asia group allowed them to block the entry of Israel. For decades, Israel was one of the few countries without membership to a group. This prevented her participation to important activities at the UN.

In 2000, Israel was admitted to the WEOG thereby enabling it to be a candidate for election to various UN bodies but her membership is limited to activities at the UN’s New York City headquarters. "Israel is an observer, but not accorded the rights of a full member in WEOG discussions and consultations at the UN offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Rome and Vienna; therefore, Israel cannot participate in UN talks on human rights, racism and a number of other issues handled in these offices." ["Israel Wins Membership on WEOG", By Rebecca Weiner, [] ] , ["Israel Accepted to WEOG. An Achievement for Israeli Diplomacy", communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman, May 28, 2000 [] ] . The Human Rights Council meets in Geneva, UNESCO in Paris. However, in December 2007, "Israel was voted by WEOG to represent the grouping in consultations for two UN agencies: HABITAT, the UN Human Settlement Program, and UNEP, the UN Environment Program. Both these agencies are based in Nairobi." ["Israel gets seats on United Nations agency panels", By HERB KEINON, Jerusalem Post, Jan 3, 2008 20:37, [] ]

Emergency Special Sessions

Middle East issues were the subject of six of the General Assembly's ten 'emergency special sessions'. The tenth emergency special session has, so far, spanned nine years and has become another semi-permanent committee on the question of Palestine.


The difficulty within the UN to find a unanimous definition of the word terrorism stems in part from the inability to reach consensus over whether Palestinian political violence is a form of resistance or terrorism. The OIC countries argue that Palestinians are fighting foreign occupation [ANNEX TO RESOLUTION NO: 59/26-P, CONVENTION OF THE ORGANISATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE ON COMBATING INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, from the [] , which states : "Article 2, a. Peoples' struggle including armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism, and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination in accordance with the principles of international law shall not be considered a terrorist crime."] . From the UNODC [ web site] ,

The question of a definition of terrorism has haunted the debate among states for decades. (...) The UN Member States still have no agreed-upon definition. (...) The lack of agreement on a definition of terrorism has been a major obstacle to meaningful international countermeasures. Cynics have often commented that one state's "terrorist" is another state's "freedom fighter".

Acts of Palestinian political violence have been repeatedly condemned in press releases from the Secretary General (e.g. ["SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS 'DESPICABLE' HEBRON TERRORIST ATTACK", Press Release SG/SM/8498, 15/11/2002] , ["SECRETARY-GENERAL DISMAYED BY BEIT SHE’AN ATTACK, CONDEMNS SUCH TERRORIST ACTS AS EXTREMELY HARMFUL TO PALESTINIAN CAUSE", Press Release SG/SM/8533 PAL/1928, 29/11//2002] ). The text of GA resolutions does not distinguish terrorism from military operations. For example in resolution 61/25 (2006) titled "Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine",

condemning all acts of violence and terror against civilians on both sides, including the suicide bombings, the extrajudicial executions and the excessive use of force

Several resolutions recognize the right of Palestinians to fight the Israeli occupation "by all available means". For example, the 2002 UNCHR resolution E/CN.4/2002/L.16 states :

Recalling particularly General Assembly resolution 37/43 of 3 December 1982 reaffirming the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples against foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle, (...) 1. Affirms the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation by all available means in order to free its land and be able to exercise its right of self-determination and that, by so doing, the Palestinian people is fulfilling its mission, one of the goals and purposes of the United Nations; [QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE, UNCHR, 58th session, E/CN.4/2002/L.16, 9 April 2002 [] ]

Western countries who vote against these resolutions claim they condone Palestinian terrorism:

Ms. GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that her delegation was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories but the text of the draft resolution contained numerous examples of inflammatory language which contributed nothing to efforts to ensure that human rights were fully respected by all sides. (...) The failure of the draft resolution to condemn all acts of terrorism, particularly in the context of recent suicide bombings targeting civilians, was a serious oversight which rendered it fundamentally unacceptable; there could be no justification for terrorist acts. (...) Mr. LEWALTER (Germany) (...) While his delegation supported many of the concerns expressed in the draft resolution, it regretted that it was unable to support it because the text contained language that might be interpreted as an endorsement of violence. ["COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, Fifty-eighth session, SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 39th MEETING", Geneva, 15 April 2002, [$FILE/G0212756.pdf] ]


Refugees are aided by two agencies at the UN, the UNHCR and the UNRWA. The UNRWA assists Palestinian refugees exclusively. Refugees are defined differently by these two organisms, the main difference being the inclusion of descendants and the inclusion of the 50% of refugees within the Palestinian territories which, by UNHCR criteria, are internally displaced persons.
* [ In 2006] , the UNHCR assisted a total of 17,4M "Persons of concern" around the world, including 350,000 Palestinians, with a budget of $1,45B or $83 per person. The UNHCR was staffed by 6,689.
* [ In 2006] , the UNRWA assisted some 4,5M Palestinian refugees with a regular budget of $639M supplemented by $145M for emergency programs, amounting to $174 per person. The UNRWA was staffed by 28,000, most refugees themselves.

Comparison with other conflicts

The following table compares the number of UN GA resolutions with the number of casualties for some of the deadlier wars of the past decade.

1 : compiled from the corresponding Wikipedia articles. When a range was given, the median was used.

2 : compiled from [] , 52nd to 61st Regular Sessions. Number of UNGA resolutions with the name of country or region in the title. For the Israeli-Palestinian-Lebanese conflicts, number of resolutions with one of the following words in the title: Palest*, Israel*, Middle East, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Disengagement, 1967, Golan, UNRWA, occupied Arab territories, Bethlehem. Each resolution counted once.

Claims that the UN is pro-Israel

Concerning the UN acceptance of the 1947 partition plan, Phyllis Bennis wrote in 1997 :

It bestowed international legitimacy on the nascent, borderless and still-expanding state of Israel, while postulating an abstract Palestinian state and protected international status for Jerusalem, neither of which were ever allowed to come into existence. [The United Nations and Palestine: partition and its aftermath - UN stance on Palestine's displacement by creation of Israel. By Phyllis Bennis, Arab Studies Quarterly, Summer, 1997.]

In 2002, the PLO issued a report [cite web |url= |title=Double Standards |accessdate=2007-10-02] prepared by Marc Weller of Cambridge University and Barbara Metzger comparing the international response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to similar situations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Rwanda, East Timor and Iraq. It contended that the international community, and the UN Security Council in particular, displayed pro-Israel bias because in these other cases

" the international community has both condemned violations of international law and has taken action to ensure that the violations cease. In the case of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, however, while the same condemnations have been issued against Israel, absolutely no enforcement action has been taken. " [cite web |url=|title=Double Standards (Summary)|accessdate=2007-10-02]

Claims that the United States is pro-Israel at the UN

:"See also United States and the United Nations."The U.S. used its veto to protect Israel from over forty condemnatory UNSC resolutions [ [ Subjects of UN Security Council Vetoes] by GPF] ; almost all U.S. vetos cast since 1988 blocked resolutions against Israel, on the basis of their lack of condemnation of Palestinian terrorist groups, actions, and incitement. This policy, known as the Negroponte doctrine, has drawn both praise and criticism [ [ ADL Commends U.S. Veto of One-Sided Security Council Resolution Against Israel ] by ADL] [ [ US Veto on Yassin Draws Criticism] on GPF by BBC] .

In a review of Boutros Boutros-Ghali's autobiography,

"Unvanquished" reveals how difficult it is for an Arab secretary-general to work successfully amidst the overwhelmingly pro-Zionist political environment in both Washington and New York. (...) The Israelis, he was once told by State Department officials, were convinced that they had “the U.S. veto in their pocket” (page 194). He even noted that when he sent a letter to Israel he got a reply from the United States (page 203). ["Book Review of Boutros Boutros-Ghali's Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga", The Arab World Geographer/Le Géographe du monde arabe2(3):254-257, 1999. Available at [] ]

Regarding the nomination of John Bolton as the US representative to the UN, the IRC writes in 2006:

Tom Casey, director of the State Department's press office, said: “I don't think you'll find anyone in this administration who is a stronger friend of Israel.” (...) In December 2005 the Zionist Organization of America honored Bolton with its annual Defender of Israel Award. ["Israel's Man at the UN",Tom Barry, July 26, 2006,]

Claims that UNESCO is pro-Israel

About the creation in 2004 of the [ Israeli-Palestinian Science Organization] , Omar Barghouti and Jacqueline Sfeir write :

by blessing IPSO, UNESCO is providing an international cover for a thinly veiled Israeli attempt to improve its image in the world and its status in UN organizations without having to comply with international law, which calls for an end to its illegal occupation, among other forms of its oppression against the people of Palestine. (...) In the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice, we, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon UNESCO to immediately withdraw its support for IPSO and any other similar effort that assists, cooperates with or otherwise promotes Israeli scientific or cultural institutions until Israel desists from violating Palestinian human rights and fully complies with the pertinent precepts of international law and UN resolutions. ["Double Standards on South Africa and Israel. An Open Letter to UNESCO", March 5 / 6, 2005,]

Claims that the UN is anti-Israel

A 2005 report by the American Institute for Peace on UN reform states :

Contrary to the equality of rights for all nations enshrined in the UN Charter, Israel continues to be denied rights enjoyed by all other member-states, and a level of systematic hostility against it is routinely expressed, organized, and funded within the United Nations system. ["American interest and UN reform. REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON THE UNITED NATIONS", United States Institute of Peace, 2005, [] ]

In a lecture at the 2003 UN conference on anti-Semitism, Anne Bayefsky said:

There has never been a single resolution about the decades-long repression of the civil and political rights of 1.3 billion people in China, or the more than a million female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia being kept as virtual slaves, or the virulent racism which has brought 600,000 people to the brink of starvation in Zimbabwe. Every year, UN bodies are required to produce at least 25 reports on alleged human rights violations by Israel, but not one on an Iranian criminal justice system which mandates punishments like crucifixion, stoning, and cross-amputation. This is not legitimate critique of states with equal or worse human rights records. It is demonization of the Jewish state. ["Perspectives on Anti-Semitism Today", Anne Bayefsky, Lecture at Conference 'Confronting Anti-Semitism: Education for Tolerance and Understanding,' United Nations Department of Information, New York, 21 June 2004]

A study of UNGA resolutions published in 1991 by Morris Abram of UN Watch ["Israel Under Attack: Anti-Semitism in the United Nations", Morris Abram, The Earth Times, (Dec. 16-31, 1997)] ["The United Nation's War Against Israel", by David Harsanyi (May 27, 2002), [] ] reached similar conclusions.

The event celebrating an annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29, 2005 was attended by Kofi Annan and other high-ranking diplomats, sitting next to a pre-1948 political [ map] of Palestine. This map is apparently a fixture of this celebration since 1981 ["UN CLAIMS MAP ERASING ISRAEL JUST "HISTORICAL", [] ] . A observer noted that the map was printed by the PLO and, therefore, "must have been produced post-1964" ["UPDATE ON UN MAP WITHOUT THE STATE OF ISRAEL: THE DECEPTION GROWS", [] ] US Ambassador Bolton wrote to Annan :

Of specific and most immediate concern is the signal potentially sent when three top UN officials, yourself and the Presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly, participate in an event with a "map of Palestine" prominently displayed which erases the state of Israel. (...) It can be construed to suggest that the United Nations tacitly supports the abolition of the state of Israel. [Letter from Bolton to Annan, January 3 2006, reproduced at [] ]

The UN's [ Cartographic section] offers online a map of Israel, not of Palestine.

Claims the General Assembly is anti-Israel

Daniel Moynihan, US Ambassador to the UN, apparently qualified the 1975 resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism "a reckless and obscene act" ["Obituary: Daniel Patrick Moynihan", Harold Jackson, March 28, 2003,] . Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog told his fellow delegates this resolution was "based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance. Hitler, he declared, would have felt at home listening to the UN debate on the measure." ["Who stands accused?: Israel answers its critics", Chaim Herzog, 1978, Random House, ISBN 0-394-50132-2]

A study published by the UN Association of the UK, reviewing the language of UNGA resolutions about Israel between 1990 and 2003, found that :

resolutions passed in the same period by the General Assembly were farmore explicit in their condemnation of Israel. (...) Violence perpetrated against Israeli civilians, including the use of suicide bombers, is mentioned only a few times and then in only vague terms. Violence against Palestinian civilians, on the other hand, is described far more explicitly. Israeli occupying forces are condemned for the “breaking of bones” of Palestinians, the tear-gassing of girls’ schools and the firing on hospitals in which a specific number of women were said to be giving birth. Another trend noted in General Assembly Resolutions is a progressively more anodyne tone towards Israel throughout the period examined. This is reflected in a decreasing tendency of resolutions to specify Israeli culpability in policies and practices reviewed by the General Assembly; compare, for example, UNGA Resolution 47/70 "(1992)" with 58/21 "(2003)"."COMPARISON OF UNITED NATIONS MEMBER STATES’ LANGUAGE IN RELATION TO ISRAEL AND PALESTINE AS EVIDENCED BY RESOLUTIONS IN THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL AND UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY", United Nations Association of the United Kingdom, August 2004. Not found at, available only at [ UN Watch] ]

As noted above, this trend towards a more anodyne tone regarding Israel at the UNGA followed the signature of the Oslo Accords in 1993. This UN-UK report concludes that "criticism is not necessarily a product of bias, and it is not the intention here to suggest that UNGA and UNSC reproaches of Israel stem from prejudice. From the perspective of the UN, Israel has repeatedly flouted fundamental UN tenets and ignored important decisions."

The 61st Session of the UNGA (2006-2007) adopted 61 country-specific resolutions (see graph above). The Israeli delegation alleged:

21 of those resolutions focused on and unfairly criticized Israel. The resolutions are usually initiated by members of the Arab Group, and are passed by a wide margin ("Automatic Majority") in the General Assembly ["One-sided resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict adopted during the 61st session on the United Nations General Assembly",]

Claims that the previous UN Commission on Human Rights was anti-Israel

:"see also United Nations Commission on Human Rights"Allegations of an anti-Israel agenda at the UNHRC have been reviewed in details by UN Watch in a 2006 article ["The Struggle against Anti-Israel Bias at the UN Commission on Human Rights", Hillel C. Neuer, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, January 1, 2006] . Briefly,

This case study examines how this UN Commission systematically singles out Israel for discriminatory treatment, as an instance of the UN's denial to Israel of equality before the law.(...) When it comes to condemning specific countries for alleged human rights violations, the Commission typically passes half of all such resolutions against one state -- Israel. In 2005, for example, the Commission adopted four resolutions against Israel, equaling the combined total of resolutions against all other states in the world.

Claims that the current UN Human Rights Council is anti-Israel

:"see also United Nations Human Rights Council"During its first year of existence (2006), the UNHRC passed seven resolutions, all (100%) critical of Israel [UN Body : HRC Plenary (HRC) » Year : 2006 » State : All » Report : Resolution, [] ] . In its second year (2007), Israel has so far been the subject of 4/11 resolutions (36%) [UN Body : HRC Plenary (HRC) » Year : 2007 » State : All » Report : Resolution, [] ]

The Council voted on June 30, 2006 to make its review of human rights abuses by Israel a permanent feature of every council session. This decision was renewed in June 2007. Israel is the only country subject to a permanent review. The UNHRC sits in Geneva, thus excluding Israel from participating due to its limited membership to the WEOG group; see Regional Groups above.

At its Second Special Session in August 2006, the Council voted to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations that Israel systematically targeted Lebanese civilians during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. [] . The Commission noted that its report on the conflict would be incomplete without fully investigating both sides, but that "the Commission is not entitled, even if it had wished, to construe [its charter] as equally authorizing the investigation of the actions by Hezbollah in Israel" [cite web | url= | title=Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-2/1* | first=United Nations | last=Human Rights Council | year=2006] .

The Special Rapporteur on the question of Palestine to the previous UNCHR, the current UNHRC and the UNGA is, since 1993, John Dugard. "His job description, or U.N. mandate, deliberately excludes Palestinian human-rights abuses. As Dugard lectured the Israeli representative on October 19: “I have a limited mandate, which is to investigate human rights violations by Israelis, not by Palestinians.” The pre-determined outcome, however, has never been a problem for this lawyer. Far from being embarrassed, he launched into this year’s diatribe this way: “Today I deliver my annual criticism of Israel’s human rights record.”" ["The U.N.’s Spokesperson for Suicide Bombers", By Anne Bayefsky, October 23, 2006, [] ] John Dugard, who has compared Israeli policies with South African Apartheid, is expected to be replaced with Richard Falk, who has compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians with the Nazis' treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. [cite news|title=Israel to bar UN official for comparing Israelis to Nazis| url=|publisher=Haaretz|date=April 8, 2008] [cite news| title= UN expert stands by Nazi comments|url=|publisher=BBC|date=April 8, 2008] [ [ Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust] by Richard Falk]

Many observers noted this anti-Israel bias. The Economist wrote: "In its fourth regular session, which ended in Geneva on March 30th, the 47-member council again failed to address many egregious human-rights abuses around the world. (...) Indeed, in its nine months of life, the council has criticised only one country for human-rights violations, passing in its latest session its ninth resolution against Israel. This obsession with bashing Israel and turning a blind eye to so much else has disappointed those who hoped that the new council might perform better than its predecessor." ["Bad counsel", The Economist, April 4 2007,] . Peggy Hicks, Global Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch said in a July 26, 2007 testimony to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee : "In its first year, the Human Rights Council has failed to take action regarding countries facing human rights crises such as Burma, Colombia, Somalia, Turkmenistan, and Zimbabwe, ended the mandates of human rights experts on Belarus and Cuba, and rolled back its consideration of the deteriorating situations in Iran and Uzbekistan. At the same time, it focused disproportionately on Israel’s human rights record and worse still, did so in a manner doomed to be ineffective because it failed to look comprehensively at the situation, including the responsibilities and roles of Palestinian authorities and armed groups" [The UN Human Rights Council, Testimony Delivered to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Statement of Global Advocacy Director Peggy Hicks to the Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Democracy and Human Rights, July 26, 2007, available online from [ Human Rights Watch] ] . Similar accusations were voiced by the Washington Post ["A Shadow on the Human Rights Movement", By Jackson Diehl, June 25, 2007; Page A19, [] ] , Kofi Annan ["Secretary-General's address to mark International Human Rights Day", New York, 8 December 2006,] , Ban Ki-moon ["Secretary-General welcomes agreement on details of UN human rights review", June 20 2007,] and US President George W. Bush ["President Bush Addresses The United Nations General Assembly", September 25, 2007, [] ]

Surprisingly, the UNHRC President himself, Doru Costea, recognized the existence of an anti-Israel bias: "I agree with him ("G.W. Bush"). The functioning of the Council must be constantly improved," Costea told Le Temps on Saturday. He added that the Council must examine the behaviour of all parties involved in complex disputes and not place just one state under the magnifying glass." ["Human Rights Council president wants reform", September 29, 2007, [] ] . This mea culpa is, however, contradicted by accusations of personal interference by Costea. "Canadian officials focused on how the council chair used "procedural manoeuvering" last June to sideline Canadian delegates as they sought to call a vote at that time on the package. "We categorically reject the manner in which the ... package was pushed through at the council," said Henri-Paul Normandin, who is Canada's deputy representative at the UN. "Canada was denied its sovereign right to call a vote" ["Controversial changes to UN rights body passes", by Steven Edwards, CanWest News ServicePublished: November 16, 2007, [ National Post] ] .

In 2008, Israel was the target of 5/11 UNHCR resolutions (45%) [ [ database search] ] and 1/28 decisions [ [ database search] ] . Renewed accusations of an anti-Israel agenda at the UNHCR were voiced by the ADL ["ADL Says "Shameful" U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution Against Israel "Another New Low Point" ", online article at [] ] and the Wall Street Journal ["The U.N.'s Human-Rights Sham", By RONAN FARROW, Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2008; Page A16, available online at [] ] .

Claims that the Commission on the Status of Women is anti-Israel

During its 51st session (2007), the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women produced only one country-specific resolution. In it, the commission:

Reaffirms that the Israeli occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development planning of their society ["Commission on the Status of Women, Report on the fifty first session", E/2007/27, E/CN.6/2007/9, [] ]

About this resolution, "Ms. Meirav Eilon Shahar, Counsellor, outlined Israel's position on the politicized resolution. "As in previous years, this Commission has before it, once again, a resolution on the sole situation of Palestinian women. In monopolizing attention for Palestinian women and promoting uneven standards, the resolution turns a humanitarian issue into a political one. Hence, it damages the prospects for peace based on mutual respect and understanding ["Statement by Ms. Meirav Eilon-Shahar, Counsellor. Explanation of Position", Draft resolution: Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, E/CN.6/2007/L.2 (51st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, New York, 9 March 2007), [] ] .

In 2008, the Commission adopted a single resolution with a similar content ( [ E/CN.6/2008/L.3] ).

In a 2005 document, [ Women in an Insecure World] , Israel is not mentioned as a perpetrator of violence against women. A 2006 [ report] by UNIFEM about violence against women makes no mention of Israel.

Claims that the Special Rapporteur on the Right to food is anti-Israel

Since 2000, Jean Ziegler occupies the post of Special rapporteur on the right to food. The record of Jean Ziegler was analyzed in a 2004 study by UN Watch. The study concludes that :

More than anything, Mr. Ziegler’s mandate has been consumed by his astonishingly disproportionate attacks against Israel, which issue forth in an endless series of reports, lectures, press releases, media interviews, UN conferences and boycott campaigns. Mr. Ziegler’s obsession with Israel comes at the expense of the millions suffering from food emergencies, and lacks any rational basis. Mr. Ziegler’s premise is that Israel’s administration of the West Bank and Gaza is starving Palestinians. Yet according to every authoritative source, there simply is no starvation there, and the Palestinian territories have never once been placed on the FAO’s list of food emergencies. ["Blind to Burundi: Jean Ziegler's Neglect of the World's Food Emergencies", available online from [ UNWatch] ]

In the FAO [ food security statistics] , the percentage of undernourished in the Palestinian territories (2001-2003) was 16%; there were 59 countries with a higher rate. According to the UN’s [ 2003 Human Development Report] the Occupied Palestinian Territories have the lowest rate of underweight children (3% among children under 5, 1995-2001) among Arab countries.

Claims that the UNESCO is anti-Israel

About the 1974 UNESCO decision to exclude Israel from its membership, Julian Huxley, the first Director of UNESCO, wrote in The Times:

Sir, during the current session of Unesco two resolutions have been passed which are intended to deprive Israel of the benefits of belonging to that body. The first resolution excluded Israel from all the regional activities of Unesco. (...) The second resolution, sponsored by the same (Arab) states, called upon the Director General of Unesco to suspend all educational, scientific and cultural aid to Israel on the grounds of the alleged damage being done to the historical sites in Jerusalem by the current archaeological excavations. The 'technical' nature of these resolutions should not obscure their political intentions, nor the implacable hostility to the state and the people of Israel which animates them. [cited in "Israel and Unesco", Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Winter, 1975)]

UNESCO defended this decision with two statements in 1974 ["UNESCO and Israel - the sudden "politization" of UNESCO", Statement to UNESCO Clubs and Associations, 20.12.74,] and 1975 ["UNESCO and Israel", [] ] . Israel membership was renewed two years later.

UNESCO has adopted hundred of decisions on the access of Palestinians to education. Palestine is the only country with a yearly decision to this effect. The literacy rate among Palestinians, 91.9% of adults, is one of the highest among Muslim countries.

UNESCO also adopts yearly resolutions for the preservation of the old Jerusalem, a UNESCO world heritage site included in the List of World Heritage Sites in danger. In 2007, an emergency session was held to discuss Israeli archaeological excavations at the Mughrabi ascent in the Old City of Jerusalem. The session report stated :

It further constitutes a naked challenge by the Israeli occupation authorities to all the juridical decisions adopted by the international community regarding the legal status of the city of Jerusalem ["LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE SITUATION OFTHE WORLD HERITAGE SITE OF THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM", Special Plenary Meeting (16 April to 17 April 2007),]
Following a fact-finding mission, Israel was exonerated of blame by the executive board. UNESCO never criticized repeated episodes of mechanized excavations within the Temple Mount ground by the Muslim Waqf, and is financing a [ museum] within the al-Aqsa Mosque.

In UNESCO documents, the Temple Mount is always called by its Arabic name, al-Haram al-Sharif, an unusual practice in the English-speaking world.

Claims that the UN is anti-Palestinian

Claims that the UN ignores Arab discrimination against Palestinians and inter-Palestinian fighting

Half of the Palestinian refugees are located in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Basic human rights of these refugees are violated by these states, notably Lebanon which is accused of violating the right to health, education, work, ownership, travel and even the right to a name [Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, FMO research guide, by Sherifa Shafie, updated July 2007, ] , ["Lebanon: Discrimination against Palestinians must end without delay", AI Index: MDE 18/005/2006, 8 June 2006 [] ] , "Lebanon Palestinian refugees : systematic discrimination and complete lack of interest on the part of the international community", n°356/2 March 2003 [] ] , ["May 24: The Status of Palestinian Refugees In Lebanon", by Wadie Said, Information Brief No. 33, 24 May 2000, [] ] , ["Exiled and suffering: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon", 17 October 2007 [] ] .

A three month-long assault by the Lebanese army on the Nahr al-Bared in 2007 camp caused 498 deaths, the destruction of 85% of the infrastructures and 30,000 refugees. The UNRWA report contains no accusation ["EMERGENCY APPEAL FOR NORTHERN LEBANON, 01 September 2007 - 31 August 2008", [] ] .

The violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007 has, so far, not been condemned at the UN. In November 2007, "PA observer Riad Mansour sought to include a clause "expressing concern about the takeover by illegal militias of Palestinian Authority institutions in June 2007" and calling for the reversal of this situation (...) Reliable diplomatic sources said Mansour was subjected to a barrage of insults, led by the representatives of Egypt, Syria and Libya. The Arab delegates claimed Mansour's initiative would be interpreted as an official UN condemnation of Hamas, and would gain Israel international legitimacy for cutting electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza. Mansour agreed to softer language expressing "concern about an illegal takeover." ["Arabs foil PA condemnation of Hamas' takeover of Gaza at UN", By Shlomo Shamir, Last update - 12:47 18/11/2007, [] ]

Claims that the UN promotes Arab discrimination against Palestinians

Several observers accuse the UN of promoting this discrimination by creating a special status for Palestinian refugees. The IFHR study states :

Because the UNRWA's position consists of the prospect of a conflict resolution leading to the creation of an independent Palestinian State and to the return of the refugees on that territory, as a definitive solution, it tends to justify the Lebanese policies granting the Palestinian refugees only a minimal legal status. In other words, the Palestinian refugees' rights are limited to the right of residence as a condition of the application of UNRWA's humanitarian assistance.

In an online article, the "Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees" states:

Palestinian Refugees are the only refugees in the world to exist solely under the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and therefore outside the realm of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in their host countries. The consequence of this fact is one many do not comprehend. The Palestinian Refugees become sidelined and marginalized, without hope for any form of protection. (...) Unlike other refugees, they are not protected by the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Both the 1951 Convention and the Statute of UNHCR exclude Palestinian refugees from international Protection. ["Persecution faced by Palestinian refugees in Lebanon", [] ]

A 2007 article in the Washington Times states :

UNRWA serves as a crucial tool of legitimacy for the Palestinian refugee issue — as long as the office is active, how could anyone question the Palestinian refugee problem? Thus an oxymoronic situation: Despite the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and the creation in 1993 of a Palestinian Authority with jurisdiction over the Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza/West Bank, UNRWA remains the key social, medical, educational and professional service provider for Palestinians living in "refugee" camps. This runs contrary to every principle of normal territorial integrity and autonomy. ["Dubious refugee relief. Is U.N. aiding or abetting Palestinians?", By Nicole Brackman and Asaf Romirowsky, June 21, 2007, [] ]

Accusations of Racism

Claims that the UN is antisemitic

Antisemitism, the expression of hatred against all Jews, is distinct from anti-zionism and condemned by the UN. However, classical antisemitic statements are occasionally recorded at the UN :

In 1991, Syrian representatives at the Commission on Human Rights accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children in their rituals. On 11 March 1997, the PLO representative in Geneva, Nabil Ramlani, used the same forum to accuse Israel of injecting 300 Palestinian children with the AIDS virus. "The Talmud says that if a Jew does not drink every year the blood of a non-Jewish man, he will be damned for eternity." -Saudi Arabian delegate Marouf al-Dawalibi before the 1984 U.N. Human Rights Commission conference on religious tolerance. ["U.N. Bias Against Israel", Source: AIPAC, May 20, 2002., [] ]

About the 2001 Durban's World Conference against Racism, Mirek Prokes of UNITED for Intercultural Action noted :

All through the NGO Forum, there have been Antisemitic incidents. The Arab Lawyers Union had a stall in the NGO exhibition tents displaying gross Antisemitic cartoons. Copies of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion were being sold. When the ISC was asked to do something against the Antisemitic cartoons they decided that the cartoons were not racist but 'political'. [cite web| last = Prokes| first = Mirek| title = Durban 2001 NGO Forum| publisher =| date = 2001-11-22| url =| accessdate = 2008-05-25]

A similar scene was described by Bayefsky [Citation | last = Bayefsky | first = Anne | title = The UN and the Jews | journal = Commentary magazine | date = February 2004| year = 2004 | url = |.] and offers [ photos] . The Qatar delegate said, according to official UN records:

"the Israeli enmity towards the Palestinians, and its destruction of their properties and economy do not stem from its desire to subjugate them to the arrogance of power only, but also from its strong sense of superiority which relegates the Palestinians to an inferior position to them. Ironically enough, the Israeli security is sacred when balanced against the Palestinian security and all the Israeli heinous violations are justified as a means to bring back every Jew to a land that they raped from its legitimate owners and denied them their right to claim it back." ["Speech of Mr. Abdul-Rahman H. Al-Attiyah (Qatar) To the Anti-Racism International Conference, South Africa/ Durban 31/8 - 7/9/2001 [] ]

In a 2002 interview with the BBC, Mary Robinson said some good came out of the conference

but I also admit that it was an extremely difficult conference. That there was horrible anti-Semitism present - particularly in some of the NGO discussions. A number people came to me and said they've never been so hurt or so harassed or been so blatantly faced with an anti-Semitism. [cite web| last = Badawi| first = Zeinab| title = Talking Points: Mary Robinson, UN Human Rights chief| publisher = BBC News| date = 2002-11-21| url =| accessdate = 2008-05-25]

Some authors, including the European Union [cite web| last = anonymous| title = Working definition of antisemitism | publisher = European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)| date = unknown| url = | accessdate = 2008-03-27 includes: i) Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor. ii) Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.] , equate anti-zionism with New antisemitism. In a 2008 report on antisemitism from the US Department of State to the US Congress,

Motives for criticizing Israel in the UN may stem from legitimate concerns over policy or from illegitimate prejudices. (...) However, regardless of the intent, disproportionate criticism of Israel as barbaric and unprincipled, and corresponding discriminatory measures adopted in the UN against Israel, have the effect of causing audiences to associate negative attributes with Jews in general, thus fueling anti-Semitism. [cite web| last = Rickman| first = Gregg J.| title = Contemporary global anti-semitism| publisher = USDOS| date = 2008| url =| accessdate = 2008-03-27]

Claims that the UN ignores antisemitism

Since its creation, the UN has abundantly condemned racial discrimination, including some 58 resolutions and decisions condemning Nazism. The first UNGA resolution condemning antisemitism by name is A/RES/53/133 (9 Dec 1998), where it "Urges all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur with a view to enabling him to fulfil his mandate, including the examination of incidents of contemporary forms of racism and racial discrimination, inter alia, against blacks, Arabs and Muslims, xenophobia, Negrophobia, anti-Semitism and related intolerance;" [53/133. Measures to combat contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, [] ] .

A 1999 Middle East Quarterly article recounts :

On the very last day of the UNCHR's 1997 session, the representative of Indonesia, Agus Tarmidzi, speaking on behalf of the OIC countries, took the floor to protest a passage in a report by Benin's Maurice Glélé-Ahanhanzo, the U.N. special rapporteur on racism. Focusing on information under the subheading "Islamist and Arab Anti-Semitism," the Indonesian ambassador referred to a quotation from a book on antisemitism that reads : "The use of Christian and secular European antisemitic motifs in Muslim publications is on the rise, yet at the same time, Muslim extremists are turning increasingly to their own religious sources, first and foremost the Qur'an, as a primary anti-Jewish source." Tarmidzi called this a "defamation of our religion Islam and blasphemy against its Holy Book Qur'an." That same evening, the UNCHR's fifty-three member states—including the United States and several Western countries—adopted a decision by consensus, that "Express [ed] its indignation and protest at the content of such an offensive reference to Islam and the Holy Qur'an; affirmed that this offensive reference should have been excluded from the report; requested the chairman to ask the special rapporteur to take corrective action in response to the present decision." That request was promptly carried out and the "offensive reference" was duly excised. ["Islamism Grows Stronger at the United Nations",by David Littman, Middle East Quarterly, September 1999,]

It took the UN 57 years to hold its first conference on Antisemitism in 2004. In a Boston Globe article about this conference, Jeff Jacoby writes

The lengths to which the UN will to go to avoid any condemnation of Jew-hatred would be comical if they weren't so contemptible. When it adopted an international convention against racial discrimination, it refused to include a reference to anti-Semitism. "The Soviet Union, its satellites, and its Arab allies," noted Bayefsky, "insisted that anti-Semitism was a question not of race but of religion." Yet when the UN later adopted a resolution on religious intolerance, the lead sponsor insisted that anti-Semitism should be omitted because that was a matter not of religion but of race. ["Anti-Semitism and the UN"By Jeff Jacoby, June 24, 2004,]

In a 2007 report, UN Watch reviews the record of the UN in the fight against antisemitism since the 2004 conference. "While progress in some areas was encouraging, our report also revealed inaction, and, worse, the aiding and abetting of anti-Semitism through an infrastructure of manifestly one-sided and irrational UN measures designed to demonize the Jewish state." ["The United Nations and Antisemitism. 2004-2007 report card", by UN Watch. Available online from [ UN Watch] ]

Many have characterized Iran president Ahmadinejad's yearly anti-Israel tirade at the UNGA as anti-semitic, including Germany's FM Steinmeier [cite web| last = source:Reuters| title = Germany: Ahmadinejad anti-Semitic| publisher =| date = 2008-09-27| url =| accessdate = 2008-10-10] , US Senator Barack Obama [cite web| last = Obama| first = Barack| title = Obama Statement on Ahmadinejad’s UN Remarks| publisher = The Page| date = 2008-10-10| url =| accessdate = 2008-10-10] , former UNSG Annan [cite web| url =| title = Annan ‘dismayed’ by Iran remarks | accessdate = 2006-10-29| date = October 28, 2005| publisher = BBC News] , scholar Anne Bayefsky [cite web| last = Bayefsky| first = Anne| title = Again. Antisemitism, welcomed and cheered| publisher = National Review Online| date = 2008-09-24| url =| accessdate = 2008-10-07] , the Times UK [cite web| last = Philp| first = Catherine| title = Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blames George Bush and Zionists for financial woe| publisher =| date = 2008-09-24| url =| accessdate = 2008-10-10] .

Claims that Israel is a racist state

Resolution 3379 (1975) bluntly “Determines that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It was revoked by resolution 4686 in 1991; 25 Muslim states voted against this revocation. During the first ever conference on anti-semitism at the UN, in 2004, Kofi Annan said: "Let us acknowledge that the United Nations' record on anti-Semitism has at times fallen short of our ideals. The General Assembly resolution of 1975, equating Zionism with racism, was an especially unfortunate decision. I am glad that it has since been rescinded." [ [] ]

The "Zionism is racism" concept reappeared in 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban. Zouheir Hamdan (Lebanon) claimed that "One (Israeli) minister described the Palestinians as serpents, and said they reproduced like ants. Another one proposed that Palestinians in Israel be marked with yellow cards" ["WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM RISKS FAILURE WITHOUT SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE, NORWAY WARNS", UNDPI press release, RD/D/25, 3 September 2001, [] ] . A draft resolution denounced the emergence of "movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas, in particular the Zionist movement, which is based on racial superiority." ["Israel and US walk out of UN conference on racism, By Chris Marsden, 6 September 2001, [] ] . The draft was removed following the departure of the US and Canadian delegates.

On January 24th 2008, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour welcomed ["Arab Charter on Human Rights enters into force", Publication Date 25/1/2008 [] ] the entry into force of the Arab Charter on Human Rights which states :

Article 2(3) All forms of racism, Zionism and foreign occupation and domination constitute an impediment to human dignity and a major barrier to the exercise of the fundamental rights of peoples; all such practices must be condemned and efforts must be deployed for their elimination. [League of Arab States, Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, May 22, 2004, reprinted in 12 Int'l Hum. Rts. Rep. 893 (2005), entered into force March 15, 2008, available online via [ University of Minnesota] ]
Following criticisms about this statement ["The UN enables hatemongers", by John Robson, The Ottawa Citizen, Published: Friday, February 01, 2008 [] ] ["UN Rights Chief Must Clarify Endorsement of Arab Charter with Anti-Semitic Provisions" [] ] ["Defender of human rights takes a brief step sideways", by Susan Martinuk, Calgary Herald, Published: Friday, February 01, 2008, [] ] , Arbour distanced herself from some aspects of the charter [STATEMENT BY UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ON THE ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE ARAB CHARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS, Geneva, 30 January 2008, [] ] . The charter is listed in the web site of her office, among texts adopted by international groups aimed at promoting and consolidating democracy [ [] ]

Accusations of intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Claims that UN personnel intervened against Israel

*Members of the UNIFIL peace mission in Southern Lebanon were accused of complicity in the October 2000 Lebanon abduction of three Israeli Engineering Corps soldiers by Hezbollah. The UN denies involvement.
*In 2008, the Israeli Defense Ministry accused UNIFIL of intentionally concealing information to the UNSC about Hezbollah military operations south of the Litani river, in violation of its mandate [cite web| last = Ravid| first = Barak| title = Israel: UNIFIL hiding info about Hezbollah from Security Council| publisher =| date = 2008-04-28| url =| accessdate = 2008-04-28]
*Nahd Attala, a senior official of UNRWA in Gaza, reveals that in June-July 2002, he used his UNRWA car for the transportation of armed members of Fatah who were on their way to carry out a missile attack against Jewish settlements. In addition, Nahd admits he used a UNRWA car to transport a 12 kg explosive charge for his brother-in-law, a Fatah member. [ [] ]
* On May 11 2004, Israel claimed that a U.N. ambulance was used by Palestinian terrorists for their getaway following a military engagement in Southern Gaza ["The Asman Observer, Second Front", Monday, June 14, 2004, By David Asman, [,2933,122648,00.html Fox News] ] , [Reuters video available online via [ youtube] ]
* In 2004, Peter Hansen, head of the UNRWA said "I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don't see that as a crime" ["Canada looking at UN agency over Palestinian connection", CBC News, October 4, 2004, [] ] . The Palestinian group Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and actively promotes violent resistance.

Claims that Israel targets UN personnel

*On July 26th 2006 Israeli aircraft in South Lebanon dropped bombs onto a well-marked, long-standing UNIFIL position, killing four. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called the bombing “deliberate”.


External links

UN sites

* [ Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN]
* [ Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the UN]
* [ UNISPAL] , the UN Information System on the Question of Palestine
* [ UN Division for Palestinian Rights]
* [ UNRWA]
* [ UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People]
* [!OpenDocument International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People] .

Books on the subject

*cite book |author=Grobman, Alex |title=Nations United: How the United Nations Undermines Israel and the West |publisher=Balfour Books|year=2006 |isbn=0892216743
*cite book | author=Khouri, Fred | title=The Arab-Israeli Dilemma (3rd edition) | publisher=Syracuse University Press | year=1985 | id=ISBN 0815623402
*cite book |author=Lall, Arthur S. |title=The UN and the Middle East Crisis, 1967 |publisher=Columbia University Press |location= New York |year=1970 |isbn=0-231-08635-0
*cite book |author=Sanjuan, Pedro |title=The UN Gang : A Memoir of Incompetence, Corruption, Espionage, Anti-Semitism and Islamic Extremism at the UN Secretariat |publisher=Doubleday |location=Garden City, N.Y |year=2005 |pages= |isbn=0-385-51319-4 |oclc= |doi=

Blogs on the subject

* [ UN Watch] , edited by Hillel Neuer
* [ Eye on the UN] , edited by Anne Bayefsky

Online articles on the subject

* [ The Question of Palestine & the United Nations] , a booklet produced by the UN Department of Public Information.
* [ Israel-UN relations; an uneasy relationship] , Backgrounder article updated July 2007, from the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN.
* [ Index of articles from the Jewish Virtual Library]
* [ The UN and Palestine Issue] , an overview with photos from
* [ Series of article on the subject] from
* [ What is the evidence that the United Nations is biased against Israel?] , an article from
* [ Ten ways Israel is treated differently] , by David Harris,
* [ Anti-Israel Bias at the UN] , a 2004 article from the ADL
* [ The UN's Outcast] , a 2002 article by Allison Kaplan Sommer.
* [ The United Nation's War Against Israel] , by David Harsanyi (May 27, 2002)

Other documents

* [;&version=31; Ezekiel 5:14-15] , a pertinent Bible verse.

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