The United Nations and the Question of Palestine: A Study in International Legal Subalternity
As one of the longest running disputes on the United Nations agenda, the conventional wisdom holds that the UN’s position on the question of Palestine offers the only normative basis of a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians grounded in international law. Contrary to this position, this dissertation argues that there has been a continuing though vacillating gulf between the requirements of international law and the position of the UN, which has inevitably frustrated rather than facilitated the search for a just and lasting peace. To this end, the research examines a number of areas in which the UN has assumed a leading role in the question of Palestine since 1947. It critically explores the tensions that exist between the positions adopted by the Organization on the one hand, and various requirements of prevailing international law on the other. If the UN has failed to respect the normative framework of international law in its management of the question of Palestine, what forms has this taken? How long has it persisted? What are the implications, not only on the Palestinian people – whose contemporary leadership has long had faith in the UN as the forum within which their international legal entitlements must be pressed – but also on the Organization itself? By addressing these questions, the research critically interrogates the received wisdom regarding the UN’s fealty to the international rule of law, in favour of what more accurately might be described as an international rule by law. It demonstrates that through the actions of the Organization, Palestine and its people have been committed to a state of what the author calls International Legal Subalternity, according to which the promise of justice through international law has been repeatedly proffered under a cloak of political legitimacy furnished by the international community, but its realization interminably withheld.