United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon came to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah just recently.
In the best traditions of Ko Ko - the Lord High Executioner in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado - Ki-moon set Jerusalem alight as his entourage seemed to trumpet the words:
Behold the Secretary-General
A personage of noble rank and title
A dignified and potent officer,
Whose functions are particularly vital!
To the Lord High Executioner!”
The Secretary-General had flown in from Moscow - where the Quartet comprising the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations had called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations, declaring:
These negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its neighbours.
It is hard to believe the Secretary-General - and indeed the Quartet - could spout such nonsense bearing in mind that the strict time frames laid down to achieve precisely this outcome in the 1993 Oslo Agreement, the 2003 Road Map and at Annapolis in 2007 had all come and gone with the same goal - the inappropriately named “two-state solution” - never having got off the ground.
The Secretary-General continues to demean whatever authority and credibility the United Nations might think it has - and the Quartet also does likewise - by seeking to pursue a solution that has no possible chance of coming to fruition.
A dignified officer the Secretary-General Mr Ban may be - but a decidedly impotent one for sure.
Our modern version of the Lord High Executioner had an additional message to convey as he made the short trip from Jerusalem to Ramallah to meet Mahmoud Abbas - the modern counterpart of Pooh Bah in The Mikado.
Abbas, like Pooh Bah, claims to be self-important or high-ranking yet possesses limited authority while taking impressive titles.
Abbas clings to the title of the President of the Palestinian Authority although his use by date expired 15 months ago. His Parliament and Prime Minister are self appointed while the elected Parliament and elected Prime Minister languishes powerless in Gaza.
Abbas has been politically neutered by Hamas and cannot guarantee the Palestinian Authority will honour any agreement with Israel.
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