By Jenany VETHANAYAGAM
After having a successful start in the United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee, the United Times team moved on to the United Nations General Assembly Fourth Committee to clarify the status of ongoing debates on “The Question of Jerusalem”. Two Draft Resolution were submitted and had quite a clear structure on what the countries suggested in terms of finding solutions either in favour of a common peace solution for Israel and Palestine or recommending acknowledging Palestine as a sovereign state.
Six of 20 countries including Myanmar, New Zealand, Finland, Israel, Pakistan and Fiji got the opportunity to give us a short briefing about the happenings and debates from the previous sessions. To give this press conference a neutral point of view the countries selected Fiji as speaker, which was quite surprising because Fiji has been not that in the foreground during the debates before.
Now it was time to get into details by questioning the delegates about certain aspects regarding clauses out of the two submitted Draft Resolutions, which weren’t just clear to us but also questionable at the same time. We asked New Zealand, one of the main submitters of the Draft Resolution 1.1, what they exactly they meant with “implementing clearer security measures”. It wasn’t clear for us if New Zealand and the other countries were arguing in favour for Israel? Surprisingly New Zealand argued that this implementation of clearer security measures should be helpful for Israel and Palestine people. But of course, it indicates the interest to satisfy the Israeli government is most important. In an accessory sentence New Zealand said that they also to try to acknowledge the Palestinian people.
However, clarifying the facts, the main focus of this press conference became Israel. We wanted to know their exact position in this debate and especially their response to the Draft Resolutions with some questionable clauses. “We compromised with a lot, but we are not willing to give up the Old city of Jerusalem if there is not a concession from the other side.”
Israel does show some accountability, but their answers during the press conference was a different story. It responded by putting blame on the Member States and appreciated the United States of America for coming forward with a right solution in the right direction. Even Israel signed a Draft Resolution, which underlines the peace implementation in Israel and Palestine, but couldn’t answer the question if they would recognize Palestine as sovereign state and as a member in United Nations. Israel didn’t want to explain the reason, which was foreseeable. Conclusively, Israel hasn’t shown the responsibility, which we hoped for and we will see what the future for Jerusalem will be!
By Jenany VETHANAYAGAM
The day started with an unanimous decision by the committee to set the agenda. The agenda was set on the topic of “The Question of Jerusalem” as the priority by the outright majority. Just after setting the topic for the upcoming days, the United States of America got really euphoric by posting their first post on Twitter: Huge first win in the SPECPOL committee this morning… Jerusalem will be discussed first…[..] #makespecpolgrestagain#CapitalofIsrael”.
The first moderated caucus where the position of some countries were immediately recognizable led to really interesting and fruitful debates. But it also created a separation between the committee as the Russian Federation stated there are “the neutral supporter[s] for peace for Israel and Palestine” and the “Anti-Israel” side. Questionable arguments were posed by delegates, which increased the heat in this discussion. This moderated was mostly conducted by Iran who underlined their support for Palestine and made some countries, like the United States of America, Myanmar and New Zealand, disgruntled. The big supporters against the “Muslim countries”. The question remained: was there a direction to this heated separation?
After some intense debates, there were already some delegations working on possible working papers. It was very noticeable how fast the opinions had been set by the countries and how Member States, like Iran, Turkey and some other delegations, were trying to convince other nations about the importance of the separation of Jerusalem. On the other side of the room, Member States — like the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Fiji and Myanmar — teamed up to find the another way for the future of Israel and Palestine.
Two working papers have been submitted and both are focusing on one aspect: freedom. But how this going to end? Details of both working papers are not published yet and we are looking forward to another intense and heated debate tomorrow. Will there be a Resolution passed soon? We will see!
By Jenany VETHANAYAGAM
In August 2017, about 700,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine State in far western Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh in the most urgent exodus of humanity in a generation. The Rohingya were escaping a coordinated military campaign of rape, slaughter and the burning of their villages that some United Nations officials have termed as genocide.
Now the government of Myanmar and the United Nations agreed to work towards the repatriation of Rohingya. This will be the first step towards the return of the Rohingya Muslims to the country. United Nations agencies have stated that they would “cooperate with the government for the repatriation of the displaced persons who have been duly verified so that they can return voluntarily in safety and dignity.”
Furthermore, the President’s office in Myanmar confirmed that it would create an independent commission of inquiry into human rights violations which will investigate the wake of attacks by Rohingya militants last August. Till now, there had not been any meaningful search by the military for actions that the United States has deemed ethnic cleansing. Instead, those commissions focused overwhelmingly on the attacks, which have been executed by the Rohingya militants, whom they called “terrorists.”
Despite the continuing denials of wrongdoing by the Myanmar authorities, all of those surveys which has been released by the Xchange Foundation, Rohingya people said they would go back only if they were given Myanmar citizenship, as well as freedom of movement and religion. Myanmar’s government agreed, but there is little indication that it would be willing to truly accede these basic demands.
But the return of the Rohingya seems to be far away because Myanmar government dismissed the possibility of large numbers of Rohingya returning to Myanmar anytime soon.
Mr. Okoth-Obbo, the United Nations refugee agency’s assistant high commissioner for operations, said that “Right at the moment we don’t believe conditions have been created for safe return.”
By Jenany VETHANAYAGAM
May 2018- President Trump’s top aides and supporters were celebrating the opening of the new United States of America’s embassy in Jerusalem amid deadly clashes along the Israeli- Palestinian border. A day before the opening, Israel hosted a gala with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history.” — PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli army killed at least 52 Palestinians during the mass protests along the Gaza border, which occurred at the same time as time as the opening of the United States of America’s embassy by Ivanka Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu. This marks the deadliest day of violence there since the devastating 2014 cross-border war.
In a video message played at the embassy inauguration, Donald Trump said “facilitating a lasting peace agreement” between Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas halted ties with the Trump administration declaring it unfit to remain in its role as the sole mediator in peace talks. Now what will be the reaction of all the United Nations? Will Jerusalem to be filled with conflicts or is peace possible?