UN Chief Pelted With Shoes and Stones by Palestinians in Gaza

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ban-ki-moonDozens of Palestinian protesters hurled shoes, sticks and stones at the convoy of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as it entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

Around 40 protesters briefly prevented Ban’s armored vehicle from entering Gaza as it crossed from southern Israel.

Most of the protesters were relatives of Palestinians who are held in Israeli prisons. They held signs accusing the U.N. of bias towards Israel and decrying what they say is the U.N.’s refusal to meet with Palestinian prisoner groups.

No one was injured, and the convoy was able to drive away after security forces removed the protesters.

The U.N. chief is in the Palestinian territory to try to restart stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Peace talks broke down in September 2010 over a dispute about Israeli settlement construction on occupied land.

His visit comes on the heels of a similar failed visit by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton who said she feared the “window for talks” was “closing.” Both demanded Israel make “goodwill gestures” to the PA and Hamas while making no similar demands on officials in Ramallah and Gaza City.

Israeli officials say they are willing to restart talks without preconditions from either side immediately. However, the growing sentiment among many Israelis is that there is no good faith partner for peace on the PA side and that any agreement signed will be worthless.

PA officials continue to demand Israel agree to the pre-1967 lines, release all Arab terrorists held in Israeli prisons, and freeze construction in the ‘disputed territories’ for a second time before talks begin. Many Israelis see such terms as little more than total surrender before talks – and even more concessions – are undertaken in the name of peace.

On Thursday, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon responded to international pressure to restart talks and make “goodwill gestures” by saying that Israel would not make peace at the cost of its own existence.

Observers note that a previous 10-month building freeze by Israel aimed at meeting PA demands and restarting talks was not only rebuffed but met with more preconditions and strident PA unilateralism.

In September 2011 officials in Ramallah went so far as to launch a unilateral bid to become a full member state in the 15-member United Nations Security Council in contravention of the 1993 Oslo Accords. The bid, which has been unable to garner the 9 necessary affirmative recommendations in the Security Council and which faced a US veto, was taken as a clear sign of bad faith by Israeli officials.

The PA, under the auspices of the PLO, also sought to become a member of numerous UN organizations, but Ban demanded that PA officials stop their efforts after they were admitted to UNESCO and the US threatened to freeze funding to any UN organization that admitted them. The US underwrites 23% of the United Nations budget and 27% of its peacekeeping operations.

In December 2011, PLO officials announced they had adopted “a strategy based on continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and full United Nations membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance.”

While “popular resistance” is often described as “non-violent,” it has often been accompanied with riots and waves of terrorism popularly called ‘Intifadas.’ Regional observers also note Article 9 of the PLO charter continues to assert, “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.”

It also maintains “Palestine” is defined by the British Mandate and is “indivisible” – thus leaving no room for Israel to exist at all.

PLO officials have refused numerous times to amend their charter since the 1993 Oslo Accords were signed.

{Voice of America/Matzav.com Newscenter}



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