Gaza and Libya – the UN Speaks with Forked Tongue

March 24, 2011 by David Singer
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The double standards employed by the United Nations when it comes to dealing with Israel were thrown into sharp focus with the Security Council’s passing of Resolution 1973 on 19 March.

The resolution legalised the creation of a “no-fly zone” over Libya and was supplemented by a host of other provisions including an arms embargo authorizing the inspection on the high seas of vessels and aircraft bound to or from Libya.

The Resolution was designed to stop both the murder and inadvertent killing of Libya’s civilian population caught up in the conflict between their own Government and a defiant – and sometimes armed – civilian rebellion attempting to end the 42 year rule of  Muammar Gadaffi .

The wording of  resolution 1973 was particularly enlightening – especially these provisions:

“4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the    Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council;

“6. Decides to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians;”

The Resolution’s attempt to deny Libya is being occupied pursuant to any action taken under Resolution 1973  indicates that the UN view on Gaza – as being occupied by Israel – must now be revised.

Israel has consistently maintained that Gaza is no longer occupied – and Resolution 1973 now confirms this view to be correct.

The justification for the UN claim in relation to Israel’s alleged occupation of Gaza can be found in the following explanation afforded by Amnesty International :

“Israel is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip. In 2005, as part of what it termed “disengagement” from Gaza, Israel removed its settlements and settlers. Yet despite the redeployment of its troops in 2005, the Israeli army has retained effective control over the Gaza Strip. Israel maintains sole control of Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters and does not allow any movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza via air or sea. Israel also continues to exercise a degree of control over Gaza’s border with Egypt and Israeli officials have repeatedly made it clear that this border can only be reopened within the framework of a joint agreement with the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.”

So according to the United Nations and its agencies – control of Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters by Israel amounts to “occupation” – whilst control of Libya’s airspace and territorial waters by America, France, Great Britain and the Arab League does not  amount to a “foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”

The Unjted Nations makes itself a laughing stock when it attempts to define Gaza as being occupied and Libya as not.

They are both occupied – or both are not.

Will the Secretary General please indicate which he thinks is correct?

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

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