A confluence of news stories emerged this past week that, if related, shed unusual light on the deteriorating crisis in the Middle East, most especially on Palestine and Iran. On 27 June, Haaretz made this observation about discussions at the G8 meeting in Ontario: `World leaders `believe absolutely` that Israel may decide to take military action against Iran to prevent the latter from acquiring nuclear weapons,` citing a statement made by Italy`s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
Indeed, Berlusconi continued that, `Israel will probably act pre-emptively.` So engaged were the representatives of the G8 that they issued a statement `calling on Iran to `respect the rule of law` and to `hold a transparent dialogue` over its nuclear ambitions.` Their statement went on to say that Iran should show a `commitment to international law`.
On 7 July, Newsmax, in an article entitled `Lieberman: US Prepared to Strike Iran to Stop Nuclear Weapons` states: `The United States may be forced to launch an attack on Iran`s nuclear weapons facilities if diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic fail, Senator Joseph Lieberman said Wednesday after a meeting with Israeli officials in Jerusalem.`
On 11 July, Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh told Press TV that `over 100 countries in the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] have condemned Israel for not cooperating with the IAEA. The Zionist regime has refused to sign the [Nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty and it is believed that the regime has about 200 nuclear warheads capable of being mounted on long-range missiles and a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.`
How are these stories related?
First, the G8 `world leaders` -- ie the richest eight nations on the planet -- believe that Israel could pre- emptively attack Iran causing undisclosed consequences to the interests of the world`s communities and economies. Press TV adds that 100 countries, not all obviously among the richest, condemn Israel`s refusal to cooperate with its neighbours in working with the IAEA to ensure a safe Middle East where no nation possesses nuclear weapons. And, finally, Senator Lieberman offers that the United States might join Israel as the military force that acts pre-emptively. The uniting factor in the three news items is the state of Israel and its principal supporter the United States.
Second, each cites the United Nations as a significant operative in how Israel`s potential action or that of the United States affects world events and, by implication the rightful authority in the community of nations for the consequences of the actions of these two states. Note that `world leaders` call on Iran to `respect the rule of law`, `to hold a transparent dialogue`, and to show a `commitment to international law`. International law resides in the authority of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice as reflected in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Geneva Conventions. Needless to say, the IAEA is an operative agent of the UN responsible for oversight of agreements related to nuclear weapons, including the non-proliferation agreement controlling such weaponry in the Middle East.
Third, despite the apparent recognition of the UN implied in these articles, the reality of what they intend versus what they state or imply suggests that Israel is not bound by a respect for law, by the need for transparency regarding agreements or weapons, or by a commitment to international law. Only Iran is held up for condemnation as a threat to world peace and as a nation that defies UN policies and resolutions. Indeed, as Lieberman observes regarding the Iranian threat, `there is a broad consensus in Congress that military force can be used if necessary to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.` This would suggest that it is not the UN that decides whether Iran is in conformance with the agreed upon policies of the member states of the United Nations, but the Congress of the US acting on behalf of its client state, Israel.
Two major concerns arise out of these observations: neither Israel or the US is held to the same standards as all other member nations of the UN, and Israel and the US determine for the member states of the UN what will be the action they can take against either the US or Israel. These are distinct yet related observations. Because the US has veto power in the UN Security Council (UNSC) it can and it does negate any actions taken by member states against Israel or the US. This is a structural problem inherent in the powers vested in the five nations that have permanent seats on the Security Council. Procedurally, there is little the majority of nations can do to prevent US protection of the Israeli state.
Since the UN General Assembly (UNGA) has acted in over 160 resolutions to condemn Israeli actions, attempting to bring it in line with the UN Charter and declarations, and since the UNSC has acted approximately 30 times to force some compliance, it`s obvious that the world community has found the state of Israel to be wanting in its adherence to UN policies and agreements. Therefore one might conclude that the UN has attempted to hold Israel to the same standards as other member states, but has been thwarted by US veto power to enforce its policies and compliance.
For virtually all of the past six decades, Israel and the US have acted as one against the wishes of the UN`s membership as those actions relate to Palestine and more recently to Iraq, Turkey and Iran. Today, Israel wants Iran`s `nuclear ambitions` curbed, ambitions it has determined exist despite IAEA investigations to the contrary or the reality that Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Israel has not. But what Israel wants, the US will provide according to Lieberman, including pre-emptive strikes against a legitimate member of the UN that has done nothing aggressive against either the US or Israel.
Israel on the other hand, during these same 60 years, has attacked Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine and continues to occupy portions of Lebanon, Syria and virtually all of Palestine. Curiously enough, during all this time, the United States has shamefacedly portrayed itself as the broker for peace in the Middle East. Nothing could be further from the truth. The US Congress and the Israeli Knesset are Siamese twins bound together by an umbilical cord of dependency through interlocking arteries of corporate and military budget lines that keep the complex alive while force- feeding our representatives with blood money.
All of which brings us to this simple conclusion: Israel and the United States, the two states against peace in the Middle East, must be aborted from the decision process that determines peace in the Middle East. Consider the reality and not the illusion. Look through the eyes of the real victims not through the fractured lenses of the controlled media that fails to cover any perception but that offered by the US Congress or the Israeli dominated international news. The mantra beats on -- Israel has a right to defend itself and, therefore, must provide protective borders around the state of Israel. Hence it has a right to invade Lebanon to its north to ensure that no rocket, missile or person (terrorist) can enter Israel; it must blockade the sea to the west to ensure that nothing enters Israel (weapons or terrorists) from international waters; it must confiscate an eastern border from north to south to ensure that no weapons or terrorists enter Israel from Jordan despite having agreements with Jordan as a peaceful neighbour; and it must have a protective border with Egypt in the south despite having a like peaceful relationship with that nation.
Logic would suggest that Israel`s need for protection and, therefore, its need for these aggressive measures that result in stealing land from others, breaking international law, and creating hostility throughout the region would apply to each of its neighbours. After all, it is Israel that has weapons of mass destruction, though it does not reveal that reality transparently, has invaded its neighbours frequently over the years, and continues to occupy and oppress the peoples of Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. Consider what would happen should Iran or Syria or Jordan or Egypt move to strengthen their respective borders by applying the same tactics as Israel. Lebanon would invade northern Israel, Egypt would not cooperate with Israel in the south, Jordan would take Israel to the international court to object to its illegal acquisition of the richest agricultural land in Palestine given by Jordan to the Palestinians, and Syria would move to force Israel to comply with UN resolutions demanding that it return the Golan Heights.
Consider further the umbilical cord that ties the US to Israel and the 60 years of non-peace that has existed as each successive president and new Congress acts to bring a viable peace to the Middle East. It has not happened. Why not? Read Jeff Halper`s enlightening chapter in The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction, recently published by Macmillan. There the whole sordid history of intentional delays and deceits is laid bare for the world to see. The US does what Israel wants, as Lieberman so eloquently testifies. Unending war is good for the economy, at least for the elite that controls it. The suffering of those destroyed by their wars is of no concern to them.
One need only consider the expansion of the American military throughout the nations in the Middle East and its placement of airbases and military installations that give it dominance throughout the region. Iran is literally surrounded by weapons of mass destruction, US weapons of mass destruction that coupled as they are with the desires of Israel to expand its borders to `Greater Israel,` far beyond the boundaries provided by UN resolution 181 in November 1947, boundaries provided by an ancient deity that served as real estate agent to Abraham, and the threat to Iran and all other Middle East nations glows like white phosphorous and is just as dangerous and life threatening. It is the US and Israel that are the ones acting out of concert with their neighbours and wreaking havoc on the world.
So what`s to be done? Precedent suggests a possibility. In November 1947, the UNGA passed Resolution 181 partitioning Mandate Palestine into two parts, one for an Israeli state and one for the Palestinians. Despite the procedural reality of the UN, this resolution was acted upon without having been acted upon in the policy sector of the UN, the Security Council. This would suggest that the UNGA has the implied power to act without concurrent UNSC action and have its resolution approved by member states subsequently. Since Israel was the benefactor of this process, it could hardly object today if the UNGA were to pass a resolution that would establish a recommending body of members, exclusive of the US and Israel, to bring forth a resolution that would effectively force a just solution to the illegally dismantled partition plan passed in 1947.
Should such a body give priority to the resolutions passed by its members since 1948, it would recognise that Israel would have to collapse its territorial acquisitions by approximately 31 per cent from its current illegal possession of 86 per cent of the original Mandate Palestine land offered to them by Resolution 181. This would then provide a viable contiguous Palestinian state. Alternatively, Israel and the Palestinians could decide to live together in one state with equal citizenship for all. Should the majority of UNGA member states approve the resolution offered by their committee, a solution to the crisis might be in the offing. On the other hand, should the Israeli government reject this offer, it would find itself isolated from the world community and subject to whatever sanctions might be imposed by the UN.
Understandably, not all the resolutions since 1948 have been favourable to the Palestinians. They, too, would be subject to the decisions made by the new committee deciding the fate of the Israeli/Palestinian crisis. In simple terms, the UN would have effectively removed the peace process from the two states that are, as they state themselves, one and `unbreakable` in their desires and intents and, consequently uniquely unqualified to be arbiters of the fate of the Palestinians or of other states in the Middle East. To accomplish this end, the people of the world must view the reality of the Middle East through the eyes of those suffering the destructive power inflicted on them by the United States and Israel.
Every principle on which the United States rests, from the Declaration of Independence to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, cries out against the actions of the United States and Israel as they inflict a merciless set of attacks, invasions and wars on the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, and now, Turkey and Iran. That statement recognises the power of the Israeli lobbies on behalf of its client state, Israel, as it is more than complicit in the enforced dominance of the US in the world. No one can witness the enormous control asserted by Israel over the US Congress where almost 400 representatives and 100 senators vote in unison to support Israel`s destruction of Lebanon, its invasion of Gaza and its murder of Turkish citizens. The people of America are no longer in control of their government; it has become a client state of a foreign power.
It is time for America to demand that its government respect equality of life, not destroy it wantonly through mercenaries and drones, reject wars of deception perpetrated by purported friends of the nation by seeking reconciliation with those we`ve destroyed, and, finally, withdraw support from the rogue nation of Israel that has severed America from the community of nations making it vulnerable to those who would use America for their own ends, and become once again a nation of the people and for the people, not a nation of elites who use the people by inducing fears and phobias to control.
Virtually all members of the UN understand this reality as the above news items testify. As it becomes more and more clear that Israel and its compliant US Congress care nothing for the rights of other nations as their promotion of aggressive action against Iran proclaims -- a virtual mirror process that brought about the war against Iraq -- the world community must face the reality that the US cannot control Israel nor its own policies. Therefore, the UN must assert its responsibility for all its member states and resolve a conflict that has plagued the world for the past 60 years. It`s time illusion gives way to reality.
* The writer is professor of English at the University of La Verne in Southern California