by David Singer
Ariel Sharon's plans to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza and
parts of the West Bank need to be urgently reconsidered by him
following the publication of a Report issued by eight United
Nations (UN) human rights experts.
The Report threatens the continued unity of the Quartet the
United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations
in the implementation of the Roadmap calling for a two state
solution designed to end the conflict between Jews and Arabs in
the 6% of the former Mandate for Palestine called Gaza and the
West Bank, in which neither Jews nor Arabs presently enjoy
The Report claims there is an incompatibility between UN support
for the Roadmap and last year's advisory opinion of the
International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN's own judicial
body, on the legality of the security barrier erected partly on
land in the West Bank.
"In large measure it seems that the ICJ's Opinion has been
ignored in favour of negotiations conducted in terms of the Road
Map process," the eight UN experts said.
The Roadmap negotiations, they continued, "seem to accept the
continued presence of some settlements, which were found by the
ICJ to be unlawful, and by necessary implication the continued
existence of some parts of the wall in Palestinian territory".
"In short, there seems to be an incompatibility between the Road
Map negotiations and the Court's Opinion that should be of
concern to the United Nations, which is also a party to the
Quartet. The United Nations clearly cannot make itself a party
to negotiations that are not based on the Opinion of its own
judicial body," the experts said.
These eight experts are not without considerable influential
They are: Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in
the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, John Dugard;
Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the
right to an adequate standard of living, Miloon Kothari; Special
Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and
consequences, Yakin Erturk; Special Rapporteur on the right to
education, Vernor Munoz Villalobos; Special Rapporteur on the
right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable
standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt; Special
Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou
Diene; Chairperson, Rapporteur, Working Group on arbitrary
detention, Leila Zerrougui; and Special Rapporteur on
trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, Sigma Huda.
Together they comprise a formidable rallying point for the 56
Moslem States to call on the United Nations to disown any
further part in the implementation of the Roadmap and to put
pressure on the European Union and Russia to abandon their
support for that process.
It does not take a quantum leap in anyone's thinking to see the
USA becoming isolated as the only proponent of the two State
solution in which sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza is
divided between Israel and a newly created second Arab State in
what was once the Mandate for Palestine.
Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plans have relied
heavily on the following three core assurances given to him by
President Bush in his letter of 14 April 2004:
1. The United States would do its utmost to prevent any
attempt by anyone to impose any other plan other than the
UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, needs to immediately repudiate
the Special Rapporteurs Report and indicate in the clearest
possible language that the UN remains committed to the
implementation of the Roadmap in all its aspects as part of the
existing Quartet and irrespective of anything contained in the
judgement of the ICJ.
2. In light of new realities on the ground, including
already existing major Israeli population centers, it is
unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status
negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice
lines of 1949.
3. The Palestinians will have no right of return to Israel.
The fulfilment of these assurances has now been thrown into
great doubt as a result of the challenge posed by the Special
Ariel Sharon has sought to justify his disengagement proposals
as resulting from changed circumstances causing him to do a
complete somersault from his former opposition to unilateral
withdrawal, despite such opposition giving him a huge electoral
majority at the last general elections held in Israel.
Whatever diplomatic advantages Sharon saw in changing his mind
has now been totally undermined by the challenge posed by the
Special Rapporteurs Report, which threatens to leave Israel and
the Unites States exposed once again like sitting ducks in a
Sharon has said nothing would affect Israel's planned withdrawal
commencing on 17 August. He needs to cut out the political
rhetoric and immediately postpone any withdrawal until the UN
Secretary General gives him the above assurances.
If anything is to be learned by the Israeli Government from this
episode, it is that undertaking to do anything unilaterally in
the Middle East is pure folly of the most disastrous kind.
David Singer is an Australian Lawyer and Convenor of: Jordan is
Palestine International an organisation calling for sovereignty
of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and
Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine.
Our special thanks to the author for submitting this article. A. G. S.