Palestinians Urge UN President to Add Bite To Institution's Bark
IN a visit to Israel and the occupied territories last week, United Nations General Assembly President Guido de Marco came face to face with the passions generated by three years of the Palestinian uprising. In the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, Mr. de Marco's convoy had to turn back at the entrance to the Jabalya refugee camp as hundreds of youths attacked the military outpost inside.
In the occupied West Bank, he found himself surrounded by angry Jewish settlers, who hurled abuse and spat at him.
In between, he held talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, which were later characterized more than once by the term ``frank exchange of views'' - diplomatic language for disagreements.
The Israeli government has frequently lashed out at the UN in recent months, accusing it of passing one-sided resolutions condemning Israeli practices in the occupied territories.
Palestinians, for their part, argue that it's time for the UN to add bite to its bark.
``We presented to him our anger and disgust at the UN, vis-`a-vis the hypocrisy and double standards concerning applications of international legitimacy,'' says Saeb Erakat, a political scientist at Al-Najah University in Nablus, after a meeting with de Marco on Friday. ``We demanded that the Palestinians should be part of that international legitimacy.''
Prof. Erakat said the Palestinians leaders demanded that education, health, and labor in the Israeli-occupied territories should be placed under the direct supervision of international bodies.
``Anything short of that is going to be null and void as far as the Israelis are concerned,'' said Erakat. ``They have proved in the past 23 years that they are not capable of respecting the Geneva Conventions or any other UN resolutions.''
De Marco refrained from outlining specifics when asked about future UN action, saying only that it was in Israel's best interests to observe international standards.