The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) has a very attractive title, which may lead us to think of it as an entity that seeks peace and justice. However, the reality is quite different.
CEIRPP was established by the U.N. General Assembly in 1975, together with the infamous resolution that—only 30 years after the Holocaust—declared that Zionism was equal to racism. And from its inception, the Committee was charged with promoting the idea that the creation of the State of Israel was a historical injustice (despite the fact that the United Nations itself recommended its creation in 1947).
One of the “inalienable rights of the Palestinian people” the title of this committee refers to, is the so-called “right or return” of the Palestinian refugees to what constitutes today the State of Israel. And by Palestinian refugees, they not only mean the surviving refugees from Israel’s War of Independence, but also their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, numbering today more than five million people. CEIRPP is therefore committed to end the existence of Israel through a program of mass migration.
It was on Nov. 13, 1974, that Yasser Arafat addressed the U.N. General Assembly. In his speech, in which he denounced “the Zionist entity” and stated that Zionism was an imperialist, colonialist and racist ideology, he made it clear that he was committed to ending Israel’s existence. Nine days later, the U.N. General Assembly followed through by adopting a resolution that declared it to be “the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted.”
The anti-Israel forces at the U.N. then went to work and, in 1975, passed the resolution that established CEIRPP. This resolution reaffirmed that it viewed the inalienable rights as including the “right of return.” Thus, from the outset, CEIRPP’s mandate was to promote a maximalist position that goes against the “two states for two peoples” solution that the U.N.—at least formally—pledges to support.
In 1977, at the request of the Committee and to assist with its mission, the Division of Palestinian Rights (DPR)—initially the “Special Unit for Palestinian Rights”—was established within the U.N. Secretariat (it should be noted that the Palestinians are the only people in the world who have their own division within the U.N. Secretariat).
Together, with the creation of DPR, Nov. 29 was designated as the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” What this date commemorates is the adoption by the U.N. General Assembly, back in 1947, of the resolution that recommended the partition of Palestine into two states. On this date each year, the Committee—with the assistance of DPR—organizes events in different cities around the world, where it is claimed that while Israel was created in 1948, the Palestinian state is still waiting, and Israel is blamed for it. The curious thing is that none of these commemorations mention the fact that it was precisely the Arab leaders who did not accept the 1947 partition plan and who even today refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist.
That the implementation of the “right of return” continues to this day to be one of CEIRPP’s main goals can be clearly unveiled by reading the information note that describes CEIRRP’s mandate (at the site of UNISPAL, the U.N. information system for the question of Palestine). It expressly refers to the “right of return” of the Palestinian refugees and provides that “the various refugee resettlement and compensation schemes advanced over the years… were always meant as interim measures, not as substitutes for the right of return.”
It is important to mention that only in the case of the Palestinian refugees the “refugee status” passes from generation to generation. All the other refugees of the world stop being refugees when they are resettled in a new place. But in the case of the Palestinians, the organization that assists them (UNRWA) never had resettlement as its goal. As a consequence, the Palestinian refugees are always kept in a precarious situation as they cannot be fully resettled anywhere, and their permanence and constant growth is used as a weapon against Israel.
In the numerous events that CEIRPP organizes around the world, Israel is demonized and the Palestinians are detached from any responsibility for the conflict. Such a biased entity should not be a part of the U.N. system.
By supporting CEIRPP and the “right of return,” the U.N. has become the vehicle by which the Palestinian leadership believes they will be able to end Israel’s existence. And this is why they refuse to negotiate a peace agreement, which would necessarily imply the recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the abandonment of the “right of return.”
The recent forum organized by CEIRPP at the U.N. headquarters in New York commemorating “50 Years of Occupation,” is an excellent example of the powerful and harmful anti-Israel propaganda that emanates from this Committee, in the name of the U.N.
Saeb Erekat, the lead negotiator of the Palestinian Authority, opened the forum by making a shameful comparison between Israel and ISIS, stating that an “anti-life” culture prevails in Israel, and claiming that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. He repeatedly compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and—despite claiming that the Palestinians seek a two-state solution—he refused to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.
The Committee and Division not only disseminate this hateful anti-Israel propaganda in the name of the U.N. They also coordinate the work of multiple anti-Israel NGOs around the world. As was rightfully denounced by Israel’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. Danny Danon, NGOs with links to Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) were represented at this forum. The PFLP recently claimed responsibility for the murder of Israeli Police Officer Hadas Malka in Jerusalem.
Also present at the forum were numerous NGOs that actively promote BDS, a movement that not only seeks the end of Israeli settlements, but also the destruction of Israel and that is clearly anti-Semitic in nature. Many of these organizations, when speaking about “occupation,” clearly stated that it did not begin with the Six-Day War, but with the creation of Israel itself.
Another example of the radical agenda of this forum was the presence of a representative of the Palestinian soccer club of Chile. Members of this club recently engaged in a violent anti-Semitic incident against the players of a Chilean Jewish soccer team.
In addition to BDS, the various anti-Israel strategies that the Palestinians are pursuing internationally were discussed, including the scandalous offensive that is being carried out at UNESCO, with the goal of erasing the links between the Jewish people and their most sacred places, an unacceptable falsification of history that the world is unfortunately consenting to.
In sum, CEIRPP makes it possible for a powerful anti-Israel propaganda apparatus to function at the heart of the U.N. system, and its radical agenda is counterproductive to the achievement of peace. It is time for democratic countries to stop funding an entity that causes a great many Palestinians to believe that the United Nations with ultimately deliver a Palestinian state from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] Sea.
This post was originally published in English and Spanish on the B’nai B’rith website.