Issue 86: GA Emergency Special Session on the Middle East

The General Assembly met on Monday in a resumed “Emergency Special Session” on the Middle East. Confronted with the Secretary-General’s report that confirmed Israeli allegations about Palestinian terrorists in the Jenin refugee camp, Arab and Islamic ambassadors were forced to digress from their usual script of welcoming a UN document with unbalanced and disproportionate criticism of Israel.

Analysis: The conclusions of the Secretary-General’s report on Jenin are well-known by now: there was no massacre; Palestinian terrorists operated out of civilian areas, committing “breaches of international law;” and the Palestinian Authority is responsible to prevent terror attacks emanating from Jenin. The report also criticized the Israeli military for delaying humanitarian aid and endangering civilians.

Faced with the report’s findings, countries hostile to Israel reacted with denial, dishonesty and unintended humor.

The Palestinian representative stated that “the notion that the report confirmed that no massacre had been committed was simply not correct.” The report, however, clearly gives credence to the Israeli figure of 52 dead, contrasting it with the Palestinian allegation that 500 were killed, “a figure that has not been substantiated in the light of the evidence that has emerged,” according to the Secretary-General.

Kuwait insisted that Israel acted against “unarmed innocent people in Jenin.”  The report contradicts the Kuwaiti allegation: “That the Israeli Defense Forces encountered heavy Palestinian resistance is not in question.  Nor is the fact that Palestinian militants in the camp, as elsewhere, adopted methods which constitute breaches of international law.”

Pakistan simply dismissed the report, saying “there were larger questions to be dealt with.”

The more extreme the regime, the more ironic were the comments.

Sudan implied that Kofi Annan fabricated the report, describing it as “based on facts contrary to what had been witnessed by the international community.” Libya concurred, saying that the report “did not express the facts that occurred in reality.”

Inadvertently, Libya also fairly characterized the treatment of Israel in many other UN fora, asking: “What was the sarcastic comedy that was being witnessed? The United Nations should return to truth.”

Syria’s ambassador lauded Human Rights Watch for its critique of the Jenin report, endorsing the organization which this week described Syria as “a landscape devastated by decades of repression.”

Iraq, though, won the prize for chutzpah, asking “why Israel had opposed the fact-finding mission if it had nothing to hide.”

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