|Middle East Update: Today, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense|
Operation Pillar of Defense
Today, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense, killing Hamas Commander and Chief-of-Staff Ahmed Jabari. Jabari directed Hamas' Second Intifada terrorism campaign in the early 2000s and oversaw the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in 2006.In addition to targeting Hamas' leadership, reports indicate that Operation Pillar of Defense will also try to eliminate Hamas' weapons stockpiles. The operation was initiated in response to Hamas' intensifying rocket and mortar attacks on Israel, with nearly 900 fired since January. Until now, the missile attacks have been concentrated in southern Israel, but recently have started to reach northern areas near Tel Aviv.
Palestinian UN Status
The military conflict is compounded by diplomatic tension stemming from the Palestinians' draft UN resolution—unveiled last week, through letters to the 193 UN General Assembly members—seeking state observer status. Yesterday, following a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, the League Chief announced support for the Palestinians' increased status, which will be voted on by the UN General Assembly on November 29.
In response, the Israeli Foreign Ministry started circulating a document this week cautioning the international community that the Palestinians' Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) campaign could lead to the cancelation of the Oslo Accords. Israel's Finance Minister has also threatened to withhold the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority if it proceeds with the observer state bid.
The Palestinians continue to receive pressure from Israel and the United States to stop their bid for observer status and return to the negotiating table. Leaders have suggested that the Palestinians wait until after Israel's elections or until President Obama makes his transition into a second term. However, the Palestinians have pledged to move forward and many UN member countries continue to support the bid and perpetuate the critical targeting and delegitimization of Israel at the UN.
While the United States won a hard-fought second term to the Human Rights Council this week, violators like Iran and Syria easily maintain leadership roles at the UN and major human rights offender Sudan was just elected to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)—which regulates human rights groups and oversees several human rights related committees.
Earlier this month, Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Human Rights, released a report criticizing Israel and supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.
Hadassah's Programming Department will continue to follow developments in the Middle East and send additional updates as they become available. Date: 11/14/2012