AMID the mad scramble by politicians to destroy and create alliances in preparation for the next general elections we learn about a grave fiasco that nearly endangered the diplomatic and international relations between Israel and the country.
The diplomatic gaffe could not have come at a more inopportune time in light of recent developments concerning a request for an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on President Duterte’s drug war campaign.
The mistake was fundamental really since without any prior consultation with the president, being the chief architect of foreign relations as Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, the Philippines voted to support the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) investigation into supposed Israeli war crimes and actions in the Gaza strip.
As far as the voting was concerned the UNHRC by a vote of 24 states in favor, nine against, with 14 abstentions of its 47-member forum, adopted a resolution for the conduct of an international investigation into alleged violations during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza, and into “systematic” abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories and inside Israel.
President Duterte was apparently surprised that he was not informed prior to the Philippines voting to support the UNHRC investigation of alleged human rights abuses by Israel against the Palestinian people. Spokesperson Roque also added that the President disagreed with the vote but the decision has already been made and therefore the vote cannot be withdrawn any longer.
But what is really glaring here is the fact that someone representing the Philippine government made a decision to vote for an action that imperiled the diplomatic relations of the country with another State without the President apparently knowing about it beforehand.
In fact, it might have taken the president a little longer to know or be informed about the vote had it not been for the ruckus created when Philippine Ambassador to Tel Aviv Macairog Alberto was summoned by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to clarify the Philippines’ UNHRC vote. Naturally, before Ambassador Macairog Alberto had to face his Israeli counterpart he would have already told the President about it and how best to justify the vote made by the Philippines.
For us who are almost blind to the events that led to the Israeli-Hamas outbreak of violence and which is the foundation upon which the UNHRC decided to launch an investigation on alleged Israeli abuses, a little knowledge and understanding is needed.
According to Wikipedia, “the crisis was triggered on May 6, when Palestinians began protests in East Jerusalem over an anticipated decision of the Supreme Court of Israel on the eviction of six Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah. Under international law, the area, effectively annexed by Israel, is a part of the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel applies its laws there. Xxx The crisis prompted protests around the world and reactions from world leaders. Xxx More than 600 people were injured, mostly Palestinians, drawing international condemnation. Xxx On the afternoon of 10 May, Hamas gave Israel an ultimatum to withdraw security forces from the Temple Mount complex and Sheikh Jarrah by 6:00 p.m. or otherwise there would be consequences. When the ultimatum expired without a response, both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched rockets into Israel.”
In other words up until the time Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired rockets into Israel no Israeli or Palestinian had yet been killed, although there were a lot of injured people from both sides. By the act of indiscriminately firing rockets into Israel, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in effect began an escalation of the violence that necessitated a counterstrike by the latter.
You can draw your own conclusions but if Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad did not fire rockets into Israel, would the latter have unilaterally executed its own military action without regard for human life. It is well to remember that the rockets fired into Israel by Hamas do not discriminate as to their targets. It can target anyone and anybody inside Israel.
So having begun the rocket firing that triggered an escalation of the conflict Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad should likewise be investigated by the UNHRC for human rights abuses.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in attempting to resolve the brouhaha, voiced optimism that in the future the various heads of States would be consulted first before UNHRC resolutions are voted upon by state parties.
Roque said Duterte has raised concerns over the mechanism and procedure on making a vote in UNHRC’s resolutions.
Duterte, Roque said, has expressed optimism that state leaders would be consulted first before UNHRC let state parties vote in any of its resolutions.
“The President has made sure that there will hence be a mechanism and procedure, as far as voting on crucial issues where the views of the chief architect of foreign relations should at least be consulted,” he said.
Roque added “relevant” Philippine senior officials have already been given guidance to “ensure that Philippine interests are protected and upheld in multilateral fora.”
The Philippines, nevertheless, would keep its “excellent” ties with Israel despite its recent vote backing the UNHCR probe, Roque reiterated.
“The Philippines value[s] and will continue to maintain excellent relations with Israel and indeed with all partners of the international community in the pursuit of common goals and objectives grounded on shared values and interests,” he said.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry earlier summoned Philippine Ambassador to Tel Aviv Macairog Alberto to clarify the Philippines’ UNHRC vote.
Gilad Cohen, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy director general for the Asia-Pacific, earlier deemed the Philippines’ vote as “unacceptable to Israel, and constitutes a reward for terrorism.”
Israeli forces and the Hamas militant group have agreed to a ceasefire to end an 11-day conflict that claimed the lives of at least 231 Palestinians and 12 Israelis.
The ceasefire entered into force after Egypt and Qatar brokered an agreement between the two parties to stop the war.