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28 Sep, 2021

Israel makes clear plan to wipe Palestine off the map; Travel & Tourism sure to face the consequences

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gave what I consider to be the most dangerous speech of all those delivered at the 76th UN General Assembly, which ended on 27 September. He made it clear, without saying a word about the topic, that Israel will stay the course of wiping Palestine off the map — and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

The implications of this for global peace, conflict and security, and by extension Travel & Tourism, are profound. Like all geopolitical issues, it will be ignored by the Travel & Tourism leadership as a “sensitive issue” that is “beyond our control.” As a result, the so-called “Industry of Peace” will continue to pay the social, cultural, financial, economic and political costs of the ongoing conflict well into this decade.

The General Assembly is the annual leadership summit of the United Nations. This year, it was addressed by 100 Heads of State, 52 Heads of Government, three Vice-Presidents, and 34 Ministers. The theme of the UNGA and its associated events held alongside was “Building Resilience Through Hope to recover from Covid-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalise the United Nations’.”

Now the world’s longest running conflict, the Israel-Palestinian issue was mentioned by dozens of leaders at the UNGA 2021, including all from the Arab world, and many other countries such as Viet Nam, South Africa and Indonesia.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the UNGA on 24th September. In the official summary, the UN News Centre referred to him clearly as “The President of the State of Palestine.” In the backdrop was a graphic explicitly showing the vanishing “State of Palestine” as Israel expands illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank and imposes an economic and transportation blockade across the Gaza strip, also known as the world’s biggest open air prison.

The UN’s official summary of Mr Abbas’ speech said he called on the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to convene an international peace conference and said that to ensure that this initiative is not open-ended, Israel must withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem within one year.

He also asked the UN chief “to work on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions on protection” in order “to take the necessary steps towards developing an international mechanism for protection.” The mechanism should be activated “on the borders of the occupied State of Palestine in 1967, including East Jerusalem.”

“To ensure our initiative is not open-ended, we must state that Israel, the occupying Power, has one year to withdraw from the Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem,” he explained (according to the U.N. release). “And we are ready to work throughout this year on the delineation of borders and solving all final status issues under the auspices of the international Quartet and in accordance with United Nations resolutions.”

“The international community’s support for this initiative, consistent with international law and United Nations resolutions, may save the region from an unknown fate,” he added.

The full text of his speech can be read here.

Speaking on 27 September, the Israeli Prime Minister simply ignored Mr Abbas’ entire speech, focussing instead purely on the Covid pandemic and Iran. This omission was picked up by the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz along with a clearly-headlined warning thus….

Mr Bennett’s speech can be read in full here.

Policies are usually made clear by what is said. This policy, however, was made clear by what was not said. As Palestine has now disappeared from Israeli government statements, so too, should the world be prepared for the disappearance of Palestine as a state.

However, wiping an entire country, duly recognised by international law and global institutions worldwide, off the map is an agenda fraught with geopolitical peril, and Israel is now on the record for making it clear that is exactly what it is pursuing.

I am putting this into the public domain to echo the Ha’aretz warning. Readers can analyse the speeches for themselves as well as the impact on Travel & Tourism. Please also search my website for the word “Palestine” to access my unmatched coverage of this tragic conflict.