It's a mad, bad world. And that's just the UN

By Robin Shepherd, October 28, 2010

Put formulations such as "United Nations", "Human Rights" and "Palestinian territories" into the same sentence and, chances are, you're in for a peculiar experience. Add to that sentence the name "Richard Falk" - UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories - and you've entered the theatre of the absurd.

Mr Falk, who doubts official accounts of 9/11, was on fine form last week in delivering a report to the UN General Assembly.

His central point was that settlement policy in east Jerusalem and the West Bank had now become so extensive that "de jure 'occupation' " had mutated into "de facto annexation". Moreover: "If the conditions on the West Bank and east Jerusalem are substantially irreversible," he said, "it becomes misleading and diversionary to continue adherence to the 'two-state consensus'."

With references to "settler colonialism" and "apartheid features" thrown into the discussion for good measure, it is clear what Mr Falk is driving at: a one-state solution in which Israel is dismantled as a Jewish state.

That does not come as a surprise. Mr Falk is a fanatical anti-Zionist whose efforts to demonise Israel know no bounds. In 2007, he wrote an article entitled "Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust", in which he said: "Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with [the] criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not."

"Biased" does not seem an adequate retort. But this, after all, is the United Nations and Mr Falk is quite comfortable declaring his views there. As he put it in last week's address: "I have been accused of being one-sided, but the reality is one-sided and that is the essential insight."

I beg to differ. Whatever one thinks of the settlements, the occupation, Jerusalem or any other issue related to the conflict, "the essential insight" is that that conflict is fated to endure so long as people and institutions charged with resolving it remain consumed by unbending dogma. For it is only when truth, balance and reason prevail that Israel and the Palestinians can make the necessary compromises to forge a lasting peace, something that will not be achieved by cheerleading the most extreme Palestinian prejudices at the UN in New York.

Robin Shepherd is director of international affairs at the Henry Jackson Society. His book, 'A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem with Israel', is now out in paperback

Last updated: 2:26pm, November 8 2010