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War on Gaza: To end Israel's slaughter, the world must sideline the US

Israel’s US partner in genocide is the biggest barrier to ending the massacre. A UN 'Uniting for Peace' resolution would radically change the terms of the international debate
A Palestinian child mourning loved ones killed in Israeli strikes at Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah on 18 June 2024 (Ramadan Abed/Reuters)

On 13 June, Hamas responded to persistent needling by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken over America's proposal for a pause in the Israeli massacre in Gaza.

The group said that it had “dealt positively… with the latest proposal and all proposals to reach a cease-fire agreement”. Hamas added, by contrast, that, "while Blinken continues to talk about Israel’s approval of the latest proposal, we have not heard any Israeli official voicing approval".

The full details of the US proposal have yet to be made public, but the pause in Israeli attacks and release of hostages in the first phase would reportedly lead to further negotiations for a more lasting ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in the second phase. But there is no guarantee that the second round of negotiations will succeed. 

As former Israeli Labor Party prime minister, Ehud Barak, told Israel Radio on 3 June: “How do you think [Gaza military commander] Sinwar will react when he is told: 'but be quick, because we still have to kill you, after you return all the hostages'?”

Meanwhile, as Hamas pointed out, Israel has not publicly accepted the terms of the latest US ceasefire proposal, so it has only the word of US officials that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has privately agreed to it.

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In public, Netanyahu still insists that he is committed to the complete destruction of Hamas and its governing authority in Gaza, and has actually stepped up Israel’s vicious attacks in central and southern Gaza.

The basic disagreement that President Joe Biden and Blinken’s smoke and mirrors cannot hide is that Hamas, like every Palestinian, wants a real end to the genocide, while the Israeli and US governments do not. 

Self-inflicted isolation

Biden or Netanyahu could end the slaughter very quickly if they wanted to - Netanyahu by agreeing to a permanent ceasefire, or Biden by ending or suspending US weapons deliveries to Israel.

Israel could not carry out this war without US military and diplomatic support. But Biden refuses to use his leverage, even though he has admitted in an interview that it was “reasonable” to conclude that Netanyahu was prolonging the war for his own political benefit. 

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The US is still sending weapons to Israel to continue the massacre in violation of a ceasefire order by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Bipartisan US leaders have invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of the US Congress on 24 July, even as the International Criminal Court (ICC) reviews a request by its chief prosecutor for an arrest warrant for Netanyahu for war crimes, crimes against humanity and murder.

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The US seems determined to share Israel’s self-inflicted isolation from voices calling for peace from all over the world, including large majorities of countries in the UN General Assembly and Security Council.

But perhaps this is appropriate, as the United States bears a great deal of responsibility for that isolation. By its decades of unconditional support for Israel, and by using its UN Security Council veto dozens of times to shield Israel from international accountability, the US has enabled successive Israeli governments to pursue flagrantly criminal policies and to thumb their noses at the growing outrage of people and countries across the world.

This pattern of US support for Israel goes all the way back to its founding, when Zionist leaders in Palestine unleashed a well-planned operation to seize much more territory than the UN allocated to their new state in its partition plan, which the Palestinians and neighbouring countries already firmly opposed.

The massacres, the bulldozed villages and the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 to a million people in the 1948 Nakba have been meticulously documented, despite an extraordinary propaganda campaign to persuade two generations of Israelis, Americans and Europeans that they never happened.

Genocidal territorial ambitions

The US was the first country to grant Israel de facto recognition on 14 May 1948, and played a leading role in the 1949 UN votes to recognise the new state of Israel within its illegally seized borders.

President Dwight Eisenhower had the wisdom to oppose Britain, France and Israel in their war to capture the Suez Canal in 1956, but Israel’s seizure of the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 1967 persuaded US leaders that it could be a valuable military ally in the Middle East.

Unconditional US support for Israel’s illegal occupation and annexation of more and more territory over the past 57 years has corrupted Israeli politics and encouraged increasingly extreme and racist Israeli governments to keep expanding their genocidal territorial ambitions.

Netanyahu’s Likud party and government now fully embrace the Greater Israel plan to annex all of occupied Palestine and parts of other countries, wherever and whenever new opportunities for expansion present themselves.

The contradiction between the US’s conflicting roles as Israel’s most powerful military ally and the principal mediator between Israel and Palestine is obvious to the whole world

Israel’s de facto expansion has been facilitated by the US’s monopoly over mediation between Israel and Palestine, which it has aggressively staked out and defended against the UN and other countries.

The irreconcilable contradiction between the US’s conflicting roles as Israel’s most powerful military ally and the principal mediator between Israel and Palestine is obvious to the whole world. 

But as we see even in the midst of the genocide in Gaza, the rest of the world and the UN have failed to break this US monopoly and establish legitimate, impartial mediation by the UN or neutral countries that respect the lives of Palestinians and their human and civil rights.

Qatar mediated a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in November, but it has since been upstaged by US moves to prolong the massacre through deceptive proposals, cynical posturing and Security Council vetoes.

The US consistently vetoes all but its own proposals on Israel and Palestine in the UN Security Council, even when its own proposals are deliberately meaningless, ineffective or counterproductive. 

'Uniting for Peace'

The UN General Assembly is united in support of Palestine, voting almost unanimously year after year to demand an end to the Israeli occupation. A hundred and forty-four countries have recognised Palestine as a country, and only the US veto denies it full UN membership.

The Israeli genocide in Gaza has even shamed the ICJ and the ICC into suspending their ingrained pro-western bias and pursuing cases against Israel.

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One way that the nations of the world could come together to apply greater pressure on Israel to end its assault on Gaza would be a “Uniting for Peace” resolution in the UN General Assembly. This is a measure the General Assembly can take when the Security Council is prevented from acting to restore peace and security by the veto of a permanent member.

Israel has demonstrated that it is prepared to ignore ceasefire resolutions by the General Assembly and the Security Council, and an order by the ICJ, but a Uniting for Peace resolution could impose penalties on Israel for its actions, such as an arms embargo or an economic boycott.

If the US still insists on continuing its complicity in Israel’s international crimes, the General Assembly could take action against the US too.

A General Assembly resolution would change the terms of the international debate and shift the focus back from Biden and Blinken’s diversionary tactics to the urgency of enforcing the lasting ceasefire that the whole world is calling for.

It is time for the United Nations and neutral countries to push Israel’s US partner in genocide to the side, and for legitimate international authorities and mediators to take responsibility for enforcing international law, ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine and bringing peace to the Middle East.

The views expressed in this article belong to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Nicolas J S Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher for CODEPINK and the author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
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