Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Portugal: New UN boss António Guterres is sympathetic to Palestinians

It is worth noting a few facts about Portugal:

- Portugal was the only Western European country to vote in 1975 in favour of the infamous United Nations Resolution 3379 (revoked in 1991) which equated Zionism – the self-determination of the Jewish people - with racism. It is ironic that such malevolence came after the Holocaust and in the aftermath of the revolution which enabled the Portuguese people to shed four decades of a harsh dictatorial regime. Having regained freedom and dignity, the progressive regime in place riding on the anti-Zionist tide turned against Jews and their democratic State.

- On Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004, Socialist President and hero Mário Soares wrote an embarrassing article extolling the virtues of Arafat.  He found Arafat moderate, bright, subtle and pleasant. Soares declared that Arafat had died as “a hero and a martyr”, and accused Israel of practising large-scale terrorism: “His opponents and enemies accuse him of being a terrorist. Israeli leader and former Prime Minister Menahem Begin also stands accused of having been a terrorist during the English [sic] occupation. Let’s not forget that the State of Israel practises terrorism on a large scale.” But the most astonishing revelation was that, as a Latin, he and his team had found in Palestinian Arafat, whom they met in Beirut in 1982, a kindred spirit: “The conversation lasted over three hours. Arafat, almost always gave double meaning replies to our questions so that the Soviet general, who was silent, would not understand. Curiously, this type of conversation unnerved my Nordic comrades. Whereas we, Latins, understood perfectly well the message that Arafat wanted to convey. And it was simple: he wanted to negotiate peace with Israel and was ready to make important concessions.” What seems to have totally escaped Dr. Soares was that Arafat was famous for his double meaning, or rather multi-meaning, talk, which so many like him were only too willing to take at face value.

- Portugal is ruled by a coalition headed by the Socialist party has recently cancelled police force training in Israel over human rights concerns.

From the Jerusalem Post:
Portugal’s former prime minister António Guterres seemed to have won on Wednesday, the Security Council’s backing to become the next UN secretary-general.

Until the end of December 2015, Guterres, who formerly headed the Socialist Party in his country, was the UN high commissioner for refugees.

It is difficult to determine from past statements and actions Guterres’s attitude toward Israel. It is clear that as a UN official who dealt intensively with the issue of refugees, Guterres is sympathetic to Palestinians.

In September 2014, in Cairo, in a speech before the Arab League, Guterres said that “the refugee situations under the UNHCR’s mandate pale in comparison to the desperate situation of the Palestinians.” He went on to say that Palestinian refugees in Syria suffered more than other Syrians because they were “forced to flee for the second time.”

Was he equating Israel’s War of Independence with the Assad regime’s murderous crackdown on opponents? He also said that in times of war between Hamas and Israel, Gazans suffered more than Syria’s refugees because they “could not even flee to seek safety.” Was Guterres exempting Palestinians from their responsibility for allowing Hamas to turn Gaza into an Islamist, terrorist state? It is too early to say. We would like to join Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon in welcoming Guterres’s nomination and hoping the UN under his leadership will “act in the spirit of its founding principles as a fair body able to differentiate between good and evil.”

The selection of a secretary-general presents an opportunity for a reevaluation of the UN’s treatment of Israel.

The incoming secretary-general should take steps to integrate Israel into the UN’s institutions; end the prejudiced approach of the Human Rights Council toward Israel’s purported human rights abuses; and take further steps to normalize relations between the UN and Israel. If Guterres is successful, the UN of the 21st century will more closely resemble the UN that brought the State of Israel into existence nearly 70 years ago.
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