‘We are failing again’: UN, US resignations highlight splits over Israel’s Gaza assault

‘We are failing again’: UN, US resignations highlight splits over Israel’s Gaza assault

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: While many Western leaders and officials were quick to express their support for Israel in its war against Hamas, there have been signs of dissent in senior US and UN circles over the West’s unwavering backing of Israel’s massive retaliatory bombardments on Gaza. Some have even quit their posts.

When Craig Mokhiber, director of the New York office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, quit his job in protest over Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, his resignation letter citing the West’s “complicity” in a “genocide unfolding before our eyes” immediately went viral on social media sites.

Mokhiber’s resignation followed that of US State Department official Josh Paul, who was the director of congressional and public affairs for the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs for more than 11 years.

In his October 28 letter to Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mokhiber explained that he was stepping down in protest over the “genocide unfolding before our eyes” in Gaza.

“The current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging […], coupled with explicit statements of intent by leaders in the Israeli government and military, leaves no room for doubt or debate,” wrote Mokhiber, a US human rights lawyer who joined the UN in 1992 and has served in several conflict zones, including the Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan and Sudan.

Citing the UN’s failure to prevent “genocides against the Tutsis, Bosnian Muslims, the Yazidi and the Rohingya”, Mokhiber added a stark warning to the UN’s top human rights official. “High Commissioner, we are failing again,” he said in a letter that did not mention the October 7 Hamas attack that marked the start of the latest cycle of violence.

At least 1,400 people, the majority of them civilians, were killed in the Hamas attacks, while Israeli bombardments have claimed almost 10,000 lives in Gaza, most of them civilians, according to health authorities in the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave.

Mokhiber also mentioned the “complicity” of Western governments in Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

“Not only are these governments refusing to meet their treaty obligations ‘to ensure respect’ for the Geneva Conventions, but they are in fact actively arming the assault, providing economic and intelligence support, and giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities,” he said.

Distancing himself from the UN

Mokhiber is a human rights lawyer who lived in Gaza in the 1990s. He has been frequently criticised by pro-Israeli groups, particularly for his support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and for denouncing Israel’s policies in the Palestinian Territories.

When contacted by the Guardian, the UN distanced itself from the content of Mokhiber’s resignation letter. “The views in his letter made public today are his personal views […]. The position of the office on the grave situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel is reflected in our reports and public statements”, said a UN statement sent to the Guardian.

Mokhiber’s resignation reveals the deep divisions within the international community, which became more apparent after Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip in response to the terrorist acts perpetrated by Hamas on Israeli soil.

Since the bombardments began, protesters have been taking to the streets across the Arab world, as well as in London, New York, Washington, Paris and Berlin, in support of the people of Gaza. Demonstrators have been protesting against the “double standards” of the West, which was quick to condemn Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine but is hesitant, in their view, to do so when Israel bombards Palestinian civilian infrastructure.

A matter of conscience

Mokhiber has not been the only senior official to throw in the towel since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. A top US State Department official in the bureau that oversees arms transfers resigned last month, citing concerns over the consequences of arms deliveries for Palestinian civilians and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

“I am leaving today because I believe that in our current course with regards to the continued – indeed, expanded and expedited – provision of lethal weapons to Israel, I have reached the end of that bargain,” wrote Paul in a public letter of resignation.

Since his resignation, Paul has been speaking with various news outlets to explain why he made this decision after working for 11 years in the State Department’s military bureau.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve been confronted with complex moral issues […]. In Ukraine’s case, for example, a debate was held about sending cluster bombs […]. In Israel’s case, we just had to respond to requests,” said Paul during an interview with Radio-Canada, Canada’s French-language national public broadcaster.

In the past, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has pushed other Western officials to resign from their posts, citing their conscience. In early August 2014, Sayeeda Warsi, the UK’s first female Muslim secretary of state, announced her resignation, saying she could no longer “support the government’s policy” under Prime Minister David Cameron.

A month earlier, Israel had launched Operation Protective Edge on Gaza, its third major offensive against Hamas since it took power in the Palestinian enclave in 2007. In the space of a month-and-a-half, more than 2,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, were killed, according to local health services. In Israel, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed during this operation

Courtesy: (France 24)