Dry Bones - Tor Wennesland
Dry Bones - Tor Wennesland Y. Kirschen

It is amazing to think that one of the highest ranking United Nations officials dealing with the Palestine question – Tor Wennesland - could address the Security Council on the current situation without telling that august body of a significant new proposal that could finally end this 100-years old unresolved Jewish-Arab conflict.

That proposal – emanating from Saudi Arabia – calls for the merger of Jordan, Gaza and part of the 'West Bank' into one single territorial entity to be called The Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine.

Its author Ali Shihabi is a confidante and staunch defender of Saudi Arabia’s next King – Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Shihabi is a member of the Advisory Board of NEOM – Bin Salman’s proposed $500 billion megacity of the future to be built from the ground up in Northern Saudi Arabia strategically-located on an area of land equal to the size of Israel.

Shihabi’s solution was published in Al Arabiya Newsreportedly 60% majority owned by the Saudi Government.

According to MEMRI - the political editor of the Jordanian news outlet jo24.net has written:

"This article must not be seen as a mere opinion piece published by media, since that happens [only] in democratic countries. In contrast, on the [Saudi] Al-Arabiya channel, not one letter is published without a minute examination, and therefore the article necessarily expresses Al-Arabiya's [position]”

Wennesland:

  • Is the most credentialed and best informed official in the UN on developments affecting the peace process in former Palestine.
  • Possesses the longest title at the UN: United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, as well as the Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Quartet
  • Is the focal point on the ground for UN support in all political and diplomatic efforts related to the peace process
  • Heads The Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) that employs 65 people - established in June 1994 following the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Yet Wennesland addressed the Security Council on 27 June and made not one reference to the Saudi Plan which Shihabi had released just 19 days earlier.

It seems inconceivable that Wennesland was then unaware of this Saudi plan. Why didn’t he inform the Security Council of its existence and direct his Deputy Special Coordinator Lynn Hastings to do so one month later?

Wennesland simply continued to trot out the old shibboleths - part of the UN’s patter since 1994:

  • “It is crucial that all parties take immediate steps to lower tensions and reverse negative trends that undermine prospects for a peaceful two-State resolution of the conflict, with a contiguous, independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian State.”
  • “Settlements constitute a flagrant violation of United Nations resolutions and international law. They undermine the prospect of achieving a two-State solution by systematically eroding the possibility of establishing a contiguous, independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian State.”

Why not add:

  • “I bring to your attention a new two-state solution emanating from Saudi Arabia on 8 June that should be considered by the Security Council to replace the two-state solution unsuccessfully pursued by the Security Council for the last 29 years.”

The Saudi plan would be finalised in direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan that would delineate the international border between The Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine and Israel and resolve Israel’s security concerns.

Suffering by both Jews and Arabs meticulously recorded at length by Wennesland in his monthly reports and escalating right now would end – as would the conflict and any further need for UNSCO.

Wennesland is in la-la land and needs to return to the real world.


Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades.