The UN’s Divisive Tactics Will Not Alienate Palestinians from Their Right of Return

UN Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolai Mladenov. (Photo: Mohammed Asad, via MEMO)

By Ramona Wadi

Nobody takes the UN seriously anymore. It has bred an array of detractors from across the entire political spectrum while continuing to function as an organization that facilitates the continuation of violence.

For oppressors, the UN serves as a base from where aggression can be justified and later secured through the usual correlation between humanitarian aid and human rights abuses. The victims have been pressured to accept that there is no other option from where to claim their human rights, apart from the same institutions that legitimized violence against them.

Nickolay Mladenov’s statements on Sunday continue to illustrate this fact. Gaza’s March of Return protests – a course of action chosen to claim their rights to historic Palestine – have been used an excuse by Israel to claim purported self-defense. The UN has not attempted to downplay the number of Palestinians murdered and permanently injured by Israeli snipers.

However, it is downplaying Palestinian rights, including the right of return, by treating the protests as an isolated display of discontent. So much that Mladenov declaring that the UN will continue working with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt to find a solution for Palestine has long become an acceptable framework to invoke for press releases when necessary.

Working with the colonizer and its collaborators is not in the interests of Palestinians. Neither are the misplaced appeals by Mladenov to Palestinians “to step back and keep the protests peaceful.” Or to call upon Palestinian factions “to stop the firing of rockets and mortars, to stop the incendiary kites and give peace a chance.”

Not when the UN Special coordinator uses far less restrictive recommendations to Israel “to be very restrained in its responses to the situation in Gaza” and to “appeal to snipers not to shoot children.” A pertinent reminder here that Israel’s response to the protests was premeditated – the Israeli government ordered snipers positioned along the border long before Palestinians retaliated to the sniper killings through the use of rudimentary weapons.

The overt hypocrisy in Mladenov’s statement is the following: “Our allies in this are the Palestinian people in Gaza themselves. Our partners are in the Palestinian government and everybody who wants to see an end to this current escalation.”

Just as there is a discrepancy in equating the Palestinian people with the PA, there is also a difference between the aims of both entities. Undoubtedly, the PA will collaborate with the UN to prolong Gaza’s humanitarian crisis with the aim of crushing the anti-colonial struggle.

To expect Palestinians to present themselves as allies of the UN when its representatives have prioritized Israel’s colonial demands is ludicrous. In this case, Mladenov has legitimized Israeli violence while distancing Palestinians from their legitimate right of return.

In turn, his comments also distance the UN from its General Assembly Resolution 194, so that the only thing that remains is the complicity of the organization from the Partition Plan to its persistence about the two-state compromise.

Palestinians know that for the UN, the right of return has become an issue as marginalized as the Palestinians themselves. Mladenov and the entire institution would do well to remember that, unlike other scenarios where divisive tactics have weakened the will of the people, there is no way that Palestinians will divest themselves of their legitimate rights, to satisfy the UN’s hyperbole of purported “allies”.

– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to

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1 Comment

  1. there is no “right of return” for palestinians to israel. there will be a right of return for palestinians to an eventual “palestine”, provided a country called palestine can be established. however, that future country will not established in israel.

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